Nakiska Chalet Bed & Breakfast
Traveling south on Route 19 from Elkins, your pace slows to take in the lovely scenes along the Tygart Valley River. The road meanders past neat houses, large meadows with grazing sheep, and beef cattle. You may want to pull off the road to photograph the spring lambs or the weathered barns sporting the MAIL POUCH TOBACCO signs. As you gradually begin the climb to Nakiska Chalet you witness the mountains becoming steeper and the roads more curving. You are entering an area immersed in Civil War history. On Mingo Flats Road you will pass two statues. The first depicts a Mingo Indian, a tribute to the first inhabitants of the area, and the second honors General Robert
From there it is only a short distance to Dry Branch Road and the beautiful meadows and woodlands surrounding the chalet. You may catch a glimpse of deer, turkeys, raccoons, opossums, fox, black bear, and perhaps a snowshoe hare. You may even be serenaded by a chorus of coyotes. If you want nothing more than to sit on the deck with a glass of West Virginia wine or spring water it will be worthwhile. You can read a book or gaze at the scenery and feel your tensions drain away. The air smells fresher, the colors seem sharper. You feel energized.
This is the high country of West Virginia, in view of mighty Cheat Mountain that boasts several of the highest peaks in the state. Nakiska Chalet is 3,200-feet above sea level with perfect summers, wonderful fall colors, and plenty of snow for winter sports. The air is dry, so even on hot summer days the humidity stays low, and the evening air cools quickly.
After a pleasant drive, I arrived at my destination and was met by hosts and native West Virginians, Joyce and Doug Cooper. They spent three years in Alberta, Canada and the name for the bed and breakfast came from there. Nakiska is a Plains Indian word that translates as "a friendly meeting place", and is the name of a ski resort near Calgary. In naming their home Nakiska, they brought a bit of the Canadian Rockies east with them.
Because the chalet is located near numerous attractions there are a great number of activities from which to choose. There is downhill skiing at Snowshoe Mountain Resort, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing in the Monongahela National Forest and the Cranberry Wilderness. You can swim and canoe in the Tygart and Elk Rivers and enjoy area logging history on a ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad. If you like fly-fishing for rainbow or native brook trout, this is the place. Opportunities abound for the photography enthusiast and artist. There's a short hike through virgin timber; an interesting geologic site where a creek drops over a 30-foot cliff and flows directly into a cavern; Whittaker Falls, a natural swimming hole on Elk River; and a breathtaking meadow at 4,000 feet. Everywhere you look there is something to paint or photograph. If you enjoy star gazing, bring your telescope or binoculars, because you can almost touch the stars from the upper meadow. I can just imagine what meteor showers in August would be like from that vantage point with no other lights to distract you. The Coopers will take you to a high-altitude meadow for an evening hay ride, dessert, and star gazing. This is birder's paradise in the spring and summer, when you see bluebirds, goldfinches, indigo buntings, bob-o-links, swallows, towhees, and ravens.
I would be unable to choose the most beautiful season to plan a visit to Nakiska. The fall would be magnificent as the hardwood forest changes color. Winter, spring, and summer also have special qualities to recommend them. My visit with Joyce and Doug was on a rainy, cold Sunday in February. Even then, the view was breathtaking. After driving a short way through the forest we came out onto the upper meadow and even in the rain with clouds and mist hiding Mingo Knob, the panorama was unforgettable. This scenery is truly what makes West Virginia so special, and is what brings visitors from many other countries, other parts of the United States, and West Virginia.
Joyce and Doug have left their personal touches everywhere in the chalet and on the grounds. The influence of their time in Canada can be seen throughout; from the rock man totem by the front door, to the twig furniture, and in the snowshoes above the stone fireplace. There are three guest rooms, each one decorated with Joyce's special touch. One has the theme of Dream Catcher with twig headboards, Joyce's photo of a pair of grizzly bears, and a Dream Catcher near the bed. Another room features rhododendron, with a white picket fence and gate for a headboard. The loft has room for three and features a
balcony overlooking the gathering room with wonderful views of the pastures. This room is reminiscent of coming home to grandmother's with quilts and a lace valance above the window. The Coopers live on the ground floor of the chalet and are available as needed. In addition to gourmet breakfasts, there is tea and coffee to enjoy throughout the day. They socialize and will help guide their guests to local points of interest, but also realize that guests may want to have some time by themselves to enjoy the ambiance of this special place.
Nakiska Chalet is the perfect stop-over for the outdoor enthusiast in the high country of West Virginia and is a great location for an adventure. Many travelers consider this region to be the best of Wonderful West Virginia.
Call 1-800-CALL WVA for more information.
Ann Krueger is an artist and writer living in Beverly, West Virginia. She is a member of West Virginia Writers, Inc., and the Barbour County Writers Group and has been published locally, regionally, and in several literary magazines.
Copyright 2000 by Wonderful West Virginia magazine and the WV Division of Natural Resources. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Photos are the property of the individual photographer(s) and may not be reprinted or reposted to the web without their permission.
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