Tomblin

By EARL RAY TOMBLIN

CHARLESTON -- December is the perfect time to begin exploring nature in hibernation.

From personal walks along state park trails to tours of homes grandly decorated for the holidays, the winter wonderland of fun in the hills of West Virginia is just beginning.

You can travel back to yesteryear with the Bramwell Christmas Tour of Homes. These homes were built by coal barons at the turn of the 20th Century. Their grand details shine under the twinkle of holiday lights. Charles Town holds its Christmas Home Tour Dec. 10 as well. The historic eastern Panhandle tour showcases the areas beautiful homes for all to see.

If you prefer the chilly winter air and plush drifts of snow, West Virginia's esteemed ski resorts are gearing up for what aims to be a great season.

From downhill skiing to snowboarding and tubing, Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center, Timberline Four Seasons Resort, Snowshoe Mountain Resort and Oglebay Resort and Conference Center offer plenty of fun for the entire family. Snowshoe Mountain is also offering snowmobile and snowcat tours.

Oglebay Resort and Conference Center provides a more relaxed evening with the Winter Festival of Lights, featuring millions of holiday lights over 300 acres in the park. Whitegrass Ski Touring Center and Elk River Touring Center provide ample room to cross-country ski or snowshoe this winter.

For those who prefer to stay warm alongside a cozy fireplace and watch winter right outside the window, West Virginia state parks and forests offer lodging.

Fill your lungs with crispy air and enjoy a winter walk in the woods followed by an evening in our parks' cozy cabins and lodge rooms. Our parks enable you to get away without the long distance travel.

This time of year is a great time for good deals on lodging, not to mention fantastic venues for holiday events like ringing in the New Year with live entertainment and specialty meals.

As winter settles in, embrace the beauty of West Virginia by getting out and playing in the cool air and snowy terrain. Make your plans early because while Mother Nature hibernates, tourists do not.

People from near and far know all too well the fun our resorts, parks, and historic towns offer and our venues will book quickly. Enjoy winter and all it has to offer in West Virginia.

Tomblin is West Virginia's governor.

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