The Canaan Valley
If you were to think of Tucker County, West Virginia as a giant bowl walled in by the Allegheny Mountains, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. More precisely though, that bowl is the Canaan Valley. Canaan Mountain and Cabin Mountain of the upper Allegheny range lend the valley its distinct elliptic shape. Here the Blackwater River has carved away the sandstone, limestone and shale to reveal an ecology you won’t find anywhere else in the eastern United States.
This high-elevation 25,000-acre valley stays cooler year-round than most the state. Temperatures can drop below freezing even in the dog days of summer, but typical summertime afternoons reach the mid-70s making Canaan Valley a welcome escape from the humidity of nearby D.C.
What’s In a Name
If you’re a new visitor to Canaan Valley, you’ll need to know one quirky little fact. Canaan is pronounced keh-NAYNE with the stress on the second syllable. You’ll give away your newcomer status if you pronounce it like the biblical promise land Canaan (KAY-nan).
As the legend goes, an early German settler to the area said the valley was as gorgeous as the site described in the Bible. His mispronunciation of the word stuck. Of course, others argue that the name evolved from Little Canada which is a bygone nickname of the town of Davis. Either way, the Canaan Valley is one of several places names throughout the state with creative pronunciations.
Once You’re Here
The Canaan Valley is punctuated by the towns of Thomas, Davis to the northeast, and Parsons to the southwest where all the delights of small-town West Virginia await. In between, visitors are welcome to discover some of the most unadulterated and unparalleled natural landscape anywhere. The Canaan Valley boasts National Forest, Federal Wilderness, a Fish and Wildlife Refuge, and State Park. This equals more adventure—skiing, hiking, fishing, mountain biking—than any one person can tackle in a weekend. Although, we hope you’ll try to prove us wrong. Let’s just say, you’ll sleep fine while you’re here.