2017 CVNWR Calendar Now for Sale

October 7th, 2016

2016-calendarEvery year in late summer the Friends of the 500th produce a calendar highlighting photos from throughout the Canaan Valley Region. The project is a fundraiser for the group, which provides valuable financial and volunteer support to the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

This year’s calendar is now on sale at shops throughout the region, including the Bright Morning Inn. The calendar retails for only $11.95, which is a bargain. It’s printed on hefty card stock and professionally produced through the gracious effort of West Virginia photographer Frank Ceravalo, whose own Mountain Mist calendars are sold throughout the state, including Tamarack.

The calendar features stunning photos from the many photographers who visit this special region. It makes an inspiring gift for anyone who loves visiting the Canaan Valley/Blackwater Falls area or those who dream of the outdoors… while sitting inside sitting at a desk!


New Canaan Valley Trail Map Gets You Out Where You Belong

September 27th, 2016

It took months, maybe years, of hard work but the Heart of the Highlands Trail group recently completed a new trail map of Canaan Valley and its surroundings, and it’s a doozy!

The map detaiadmin-ajaxls all the important hiking, biking and skiing trails in the area, and gives valuable information about allowed uses, trail length and level of difficulty. The map brings together the many land agencies that control public access in the region. It includes the Dolly Sods and Otter Creek Wilderness Areas, the Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area (formerly CVI), the Canaan Mountain Backcountry, both Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley State Parks, and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The map is detailed, waterproof and comprehensive. And at only $12.95 it’s a bargain, replacing an annoying handful of individual maps put out by the different agencies.

The map is now available at Blackwater Bikes, the Tucker Co. CVB, Bright Morning Inn, the Canaan Valley and Blackwater State Parks and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Visitor’s Center.


28th Annual Leaf Peeper’s Festival 2016 this Weekend

September 21st, 2016

fall-window-boxWith days in the 70’s, nights in the 50’s, this weekend is shaping up to be spectacular for our town’s annual Leaf Peeper’s Festival.

Now in its 28th year, the festival includes a Fireman’s Parade Friday evening, Inflatable Rides all weekend, Food & Craft Fair Saturday and Sunday, a 5k/2k Run/Walk on Saturday, Oktoberfest and Live Music on Saturday, Car Show and Golf Tournament on Sunday and more.

At the Bright Morning Inn our cafe celebrates the weekend by serving Pumpkin Pancakes, arguably the best pancake of all. Fluffy and spicy and strewn with walnuts, they are covered in a warm maple butter sauce that’s…almost heaven. A fitting way to celebrate the beginning of fall in our beautiful West Virginia mountains!

For more information about the festival visit canaanvalley.org or click here to download a festival schedule.

Finding Your Way in Dolly Sods

September 13th, 2016
Rock cairns are common sites in West Virginia's Dolly Sods Wilderness

Rock cairns are common sites in West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness

Most of the trails within West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness are well worn and easily followed. For years the area has been popular with hikers and backpackers, and for good reason: it’s scenic, peaceful and amazingly wild considering it’s only a few hours from Washington, DC and other major cities.

But there are times when even well-marked trails there can be perplexing, and even experienced hikers can get turned around. Believe me, when hiking in Dolly Sods, being a little cautious isn’t a bad thing.

Seasoned hikers know how to mark their route so they can find their way back. A friend of mine used to leave little stick arrows along his route in case he needed to backtrack. And he was a woodsman who had lived in wild places all over the world.

Not everyone who visits the Sods these days is a seasoned hiker. The new road, Route 48 (Corridor H), is bringing more people to our area every year. Many of them are coming to explore the cultural attractions in nearby Davis and Thomas. Some are experiencing wilderness for the first time. These people need help any way they can get it.

Fortunately, throughout the Sods, thoughtful hikers have created stone cairns to guide you at decision points along the trail. It’s an old tradition. The little sandstone stacks are pleasantly sculptural, and when you are lost, they are beautiful sights indeed.

Not everyone likes the cairns. Some think that if you need to follow a cairn you have no business hiking in a wilderness area. Others hate seeing any sort of man-made thing in such a wild place and consider them graffiti of sorts. (Note to some cairn builders: these really aren’t sculptures, they’re built to give direction, not decorate — and in the wrong place they can cause confusion!)

I get what the critics say, but I still love the cairns. At their best, they are beacons left by someone who thought enough of others to mark the way ahead, simple kindnesses left for strangers. Who could argue with that?

Dolly Sods: It Really is For the Birds

September 3rd, 2016
It's a long lonely road to the bird banding station...but it's worth it

It’s a long lonely road to the bird banding station…but it’s worth it


Fine mist nets strung along the Allegheny Front capture migrating birds

Every year in late summer during peak bird migration season the Allegheny Front Migration Observatory comes to life in the scenic Dolly Sods Wilderness. Staffed completely by volunteers, the AFMO is the longest continually operating bird banding station in the United States.

The Allegheny Front in West Virginia sits right in the middle of a major north/south “flyway” and is perfect for capturing birds harmlessly in mist nets, banding them, and sending them on there way. The birds counts are used by various wildlife agencies to track species and numbers of songbirds and raptors from Canada to South America.

Banding activity takes place every day from dawn until noon, though the most activity occurs in the early hours. This year the station closes in early October. To get to the station, take FS 19 to 75, about 8 miles up the lonely gravel road that runs through Dolly Sods. It is located across the road from the Red Creek Campground and the entrance to Blackbird Knob Trail.

If you’ve never been to the Dolly Sods before you may wonder if you’ll ever get to the end of the road. You will. It ends at Bear Rocks, a vast open heath with fantastic rock formations along the Allegheny Front. It’s an amazing site, one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. And a stop at the bird migration station will make the trip even more memorable.

Late Summer Wildflowers at Blackwater Falls

August 29th, 2016


There is a wonderful plant that blooms this time of year throughout Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls. It’s my favorite: the magnificent Closed bottle gentian or Gentiana andrewsii. It offers a rich true blue that contrasts beautifully with the blond grasses of late summer.

This photo was taken on the trail that leads from Blackwater Falls State Park to Davis, on the south side of the Blackwater River. About a mile long, the trail allows easy access from town to the park, either on bike or foot.

The trail boasts a few nice bogs complete with cranberries and cotton grass, a beautiful little bridge over a small run that feeds into the river, and lots of cool shade in summer. It’s a great little trail for dog walking on a hot day.

But for me the best part is the gentian. It shows up in late summer, our driest season, when days are warm and evenings turning cool. It signals summer is ending and, once again, we are marching toward winter.

Closed bottle gentian in Blackwater Falls State Park

Closed bottle gentian in Blackwater Falls State Park

Brew Skies Festival This Weekend

August 16th, 2016

If you’ve never experienced Canaan Valley’s gloriously cool summers, and you love brews and music, you’re in for a special treat this weekend. It’s the fourth Brew Skies Festival, and this year it’s being held at Timberline Resort .

Presented by Mountain State Brewing Co., the first annual Brew Skies Festival was held in 2012 as a celebration of live music, West Virginia craft beer and the great outdoors. This year’s family friendly, two-day event will showcase performances from 23 musical acts, local food & artisan vendors, a newly added homebrew competition and craft breweries from around the state of West Virginia.

The Bright Morning Inn is only 9 miles from Canaan Valley, or about 15 minutes away. So come on up. For the cool, the music and the wonderful selection of beers from the Mountain State.


Practicing the Art of Breakfast

June 4th, 2016

The Bright Morning Inn is unique among local bed and breakfasts in that we have a restaurant that serves meals to the public. Serves breakfast. Only. And only from 7:30 to 11 am five days a week (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). Obviously serving breakfast is important, but it’s not our core business, which is lodging.

That being said, we serve awesome breakfasts, artful breakfasts, with lots of variety. Because people are different and have different tastes. We get a lot of basic bacon and egg eaters here. And gravy and biscuit lovers. But we also get athletes, and healthy eaters and city foodies with refined tastes. Thankfully, we get mostly easy going people, who are needing fuel for hiking, biking and skiing, which is why they come here.

It’s hard to please all these different tastes, though we try, and we try, also, to support our local farmers. Most of these operations are small, and mostly they are labors of love–no one gets rich from a small vegetable farm or pig operation. Now that summer is coming we are starting to see the results of their labor. This weekend, for instance, we are serving a spicy chorizo burrito from Ben Neustadt’s New City pig farm. Imagine such a thing — pigs in Canaan Valley! And we have Scott Weaner’s luscious asparagus cooked with eggs and white cheddar cheese, too. Delicious!

We wish we could offer more local foods, but sometimes it’s too expensive. Plus, our seasons are short and most of the year we have to buy from the big food guys or we wouldn’t have any food at all. Still, when we can, we will try to serve some of this local food to you. It’s an honor and privilege to cook this way, and we know it’s appreciated by the compliments we get.


Natural Air-conditioning Gets an Upgrade

June 2nd, 2016
New AC system installed this week for those not quite so cool nights

New AC system installed this week for those not quite so cool nights


It isn’t what we wanted. And if we’re lucky it won’t be used that much. But the Bright Morning Inn has finally accepted reality and installed air conditioning in our bedrooms. Ugh.

Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls have long been known for their cool summers. In truth, there’s only a handful of nights when you really need it. But when you do, we’re all going to sleep easier knowing it’s available. And in this day and age, with ever present social media, it’s important to head off potential complaints whenever you can.

The units are easily controlled mini-split systems that will allow for both cooling and extra heating in winter. It’s a quiet system, too, and may help those extra light sleepers who don’t like to sleep with the windows open.

It’s the end of an era. A bit bittersweet. But the next hot spell we’ll all be grateful we’ve made the switch.



Early Spring in Canaan…Almost Heaven

May 3rd, 2016

frank ceravalo blossom bud

Spring in the Allegheny Plateau comes later than most other places. Most of April is drab here, but toward the end of the month, and in early May, the earth awakens. These are some photos from West Virginia photographer Frank Ceravalo taken on his visit at the Bright Morning Inn last week. It shows the delicacy of this underappreciated season. Though it’s not as showy as fall foliage season, spring is a special time here, made more special because of our harsh winters. Don’t miss it!