How Wide Is West Virginia? Total Distance From East to West

Important Points

West Virginia is a state that stretches 280 miles wide from east to west.

The Appalachian Trail, Berkeley Springs, Harpers Ferry, the American Discovery Trail, and New River Gorge National Park are just a few of the historical sites in the Mountain State.

West Virginia’s rugged terrain is home to a wide variety of plants and animals.

From east to west, West Virginia is a relatively tiny state, spanning only 280 miles. The longest path across the state will take you diagonally to Harpers Ferry, where the West Virginia-Virginia state boundary meets the confluence of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.

One thing unites West Virginia’s most eastern and western regions. Water is an essential resource for both the people and the wildlife of the state, spanning from the Tug Fork River in the southwest to the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in the northeast.

Becoming the 35th State

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia was formally admitted as the 35th state. However, it was formerly a part of Virginia. The Civil War had raised tensions because southern Virginia desired to remain in the Union while western Virginia did not. Virginia agreed to become a new state in order to approve this.

Senator Waitman T. Willey petitioned Congress to recognize West Virginia as a member of the Union following the creation of the state constitution. The legislation that made this possible was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Geography of the Mountain State

It’s critical to comprehend the motivations behind West Virginians’ desire to secede from Virginia, even beyond the political context of the state’s creation.

West Virginia’s geography, depicted on a map, is sweeping, featuring deep valleys and mountain peaks. Rivers flow through the state, forming natural boundaries that divide it from Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia.

With an average height of 1,500 feet, higher than any other state east of the Mississippi River, this state is known as the Mountain State. Virginia is the only US state that is entirely included inside the Appalachian Mountain range. Now is a fantastic time to learn more about this ancient mountain range if you don’t already!

Appalachian Mountains

The history of the Appalachian Mountains is extensive. The distinctive scenery of the mountains is a result of erosion caused by flowing rivers over millions of years.

Due to the land’s terrain, around one-third of the state’s municipalities are located in cities or next to rivers. The remaining 3/4 live in “hollers,” which are little valley settlements dotted across the mountains that are home to locals who lead alternative or slow lives.

The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a must-mention while discussing this mountain range. Hikers may traverse this historic 2,184-mile north-south trek from Maine to Georgia. It travels through Harpers Ferry, a significant West Virginian town situated between two broad, enormous rivers at the state’s narrowest point.

The Discovery Trail of Eastern America

The American Discovery Trail (ADT) passes through West Virginia, just like the AT does. But this track goes all the way from east to west throughout the United States, even through the northern part of West Virginia. The 288.6-mile trail winds through West Virginia and is split into four sections.

New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

West Virginia’s landscape also includes the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, which is an intriguing feature. With good reason, this is the nation’s newest national park.

Although the state isn’t known for having excellent agricultural land, its beautiful scenery, rich natural resources, and biodiversity more than make up for it. Indeed, this park is home to some of the rarest plants in the state! It was set up to safeguard the waterway and let visitors know why West Virginia is referred to as “Almost Heaven.”

The Real Size of West Virginia

West Virginia will rank as the 12th least populous state in the union in 2023 with 1.7 million people living there. Quick facts about West Virginians are as follows:

92% of the population is White.
The average household makes little more than $50,000 annually.
Eighty percent of people don’t have a college degree.
Is West Virginia Just a Copy of Kentucky?

Kentucky is not the same size as West Virginia, being 425 miles overall from east to west. Is 1.6 times larger! Nonetheless, the two states are similar in terms of geography, infrastructure, culture, and population.

Kentucky, most known for its historic coal mining and tobacco and hemp farms, was admitted as a state about 70 years before West Virginia in 1792. In spite of these parallels, there is a significant population difference. The Bluegrass State is home to 4.5 million people, which is 2.8 million more than West Virginia!

Natural Resources

What makes West Virginia unique when we all know it’s neither the largest or widest state in the union? Because of its rugged terrain and freely flowing rivers, the state is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. It also provides an abundance of West Virginia-only natural resources.


In the past, West Virginia’s most valuable and plentiful natural resource was coal. Of the state’s 55 counties, 53 have coal deposits.

Major rail lines were completed in 1883, and coal production surged to about 3 million tons in that year. Because it was a means of securing a respectable living in the state they cherished, coal mining was the industry of choice for many West Virginia families.


Another well-liked West Virginia natural resource is timber. Towering oak, spruce, and hemlock trees, ideal for logging, may be seen over the highlands.

According to the West Virginia Division of Forestry, the state’s economy benefits from the wood industry, which creates over 30,000 employment and brings in $3.2 billion yearly.

Wildlife in West Virginia

A wide range of plants and animals can be found in West Virginia due to the state’s rich resource base and topography. This comprises over 300 species of birds, 57 species of amphibians and reptiles, 70 species of wild animals, 178 species of fish, and a wide variety of plant and fungal species, such as:

White-tailed deer
Endangered elk
Fresh-water mussels
Dogwood shrubs
Red spruce trees

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

West Virginia is not the largest state in the union, measuring about 280 miles from east to west. However, its breathtaking scenery, rich history, and committed citizens who appreciate West Virginia for what it is—make up for whatever kilometers that the state may lack.