Gov. Jim Justice showcased more than $8 million in upgrades at Pipestem Resort State Park during ribbon-cutting ceremonies Wednesday.
“The renovations at Pipestem are incredible,” Justice said. “I congratulate everyone who played a part in making all of these improvements possible.
“Just look at this place right here. I don’t care where you go in this country, it doesn’t get any better than right here where we’re at right now.
“We’ve always known how good we are. But the outside world didn’t buy it. Someway, somehow, we had to change our image in West Virginia. Through projects like this, it’s working.”
Park improvements included nearly $4.4 million in renovations to the park’s two lodges, cabin upgrades, and more than $3.6 million in infrastructure improvements to the park’s tram, wastewater treatment plant, and campground waterline.
The governor also spotlighted other major upgrades at the park over the last four years, including a zipline, splash park and adventure lake, and an adventure zone.
“Pipestem Resort has always been one of West Virginia’s most popular state parks and these upgrades we’re celebrating today and all of the incredible additions we’ve seen happen since Governor Justice took office have made Pipestem a place people all over the world want to visit,” West Virginia Department of Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby said. “On behalf of our state’s tourism industry, I just want to thank Governor Justice for everything he’s done for our beautiful state and the state parks system.”
Pipestem is the latest state park to reopen facilities after major renovations.
In recent months, Justice has hosted similar ribbon-cutting ceremonies at North Bend, Hawks Nest, Blackwater Falls, and Canaan Valley state parks to celebrate more than $24 million in improvements.
The upgrades represent a small portion of $151 million in improvement projects that have been completed or started at every state park and forest in West Virginia since Justice took office.
“As a former superintendent here at Pipestem and as someone who has spent their entire career working outdoors in West Virginia, I can’t begin to tell you how incredible it is to look at all of the things we’ve been able to accomplish under Governor Justice’s leadership,” West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Brett McMillion said. “If it weren’t for his support, we wouldn’t be here today and we wouldn’t be in such a favorable position when it comes to increased tourism and economic growth.”
On average, about seven million people visit West Virginia’s state parks and forests each year, but park visitation surpassed nine million in 2021 – the highest number on record in state history, according to a prepared press release.
In addition to increased visitation, annual revenue at state parks has grown by 52 percent over the last four years and summer reservations this year are 31 percent higher than the summer before the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The completion of these upgrades and all of the improvements at all our parks and forests couldn’t have come at a better time,” Ruby said. “As more and more people are making travel plans, the world is taking notice of West Virginia. Not only are we seeing an increase in tourism, but nearly every major tourism magazine has said West Virginia is one of the best places to visit in 2022.”
“In my opinion, we’ve always been the best of the best,” Justice emphasized.
“We’re in the right spot with all the right stuff, all the right people, all the right seasons, and everything else under the sun. All we had to do was tell our story to the outside world. That’s exactly what we’ve done and the results have been off the charts,” the governor noted.
Earlier this year, West Virginia was named a top-10 travel region in the world to visit by Lonely Planet – the only state to earn the distinction.
West Virginia has also been named a top destination for 2022 by Condé Nast Traveler, Frommers, USA Today and the Huffington Post, as well as “one of the World’s Greatest Places” by Time Magazine. The state was the only destination to make all of these coveted lists.
Most recently, West Virginia was named as one of CBS’s top destinations for family vacations in 2022.
Located on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge on the border of Summers and Mercer counties, Pipestem Resort State Park opened to the public on Memorial Day 1970. The park features stunning views, zipline tours, guided trout fishing trips, mountain bike excursions, a championship golf course, 82 campsites, 26 cabins, and two lodges, one of which can only be accessed by riding the park’s aerial tram to the bottom of the Bluestone River Gorge.