West Virginia long has been known as "Almost Heaven," the state's nickname. Scenic views where mountains meet the sky and the lush green trees that line meandering streams and waterways are the calling cards of its robust tourism industry.
Visitors are drawn to the Mountain State and, in recent years, specifically this north central West Virginia region. Yet, Elk Springs Resort, an attraction in Randolph County that attracts tourists from throughout the United States and beyond, remains a hidden treasure when it comes to locals, Dave Breitmeier, its general manager said.
Breitmeier describes the four-season resort as an oasis on the upper Elk River where fly-fishing reigns supreme and top-notch guides are in high demand. Located in Monterville about 45 minutes from Elkins and 15 miles from Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County, the resort provides unique lodge accommodations and a variety of cabin options for guests.
Elk Springs Resort has a full-service fly shop on site, with knowledgeable staff. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Matthew Burdette)
"It's a short drive (locally), and then you are a world apart, in a whole other world," Breitmeier said of the resort, noting it is the ideal spot for a romantic weekend getaway or a fun-filled family staycation.
During a recent winter holiday season, a family from Miami booked the entire lodge with one goal in mind: to see snow for the first time. Mission accomplished. Breitmeier said it common for large groups to reserve the lodge for wedding parties, reunions and other special occasions.
Whether a family of 20 or an individual simply looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the resort has something for everyone, he said.
"It is a quieter experience and a nice alternative to Snowshoe," Breitmeier said. " It is a good base camp for visitors to experience the mountains and all this area has to offer."
The resort's website boasts that a variety of activities are available within the region. This includes skiing, snowboarding, golf and mountain biking as well as hunting, bird-watching, rock-climbing, spelunking and hiking.
On property, there is even more to see and do. In addition to Elk Spring Resort's signature Orion-stocked fly shop and fly-fishing excursions, there also is the full-service Ellie May Restaurant. Featuring riverside dining at its finest in a casual, homey atmosphere, the restaurant is led by head chef Jerry Strawderman and Food and Beverage Manager Tracy McClain, who was a new arrival this spring.
Breitmeier said both are quite accomplished in their field. Strawderman is a graduate of the International Culinary Institute and is well known from his tenures as head chef at JT's Fine Dining Italian Restaurant and Snowshoe Mountain Resort's Brandy's Restaurant in the region.
McClain is a graduate of San Diego State University in marketing and Colorado Mountain College of Food & Beverage Management. He has managed at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Vail Resort and Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Dishes such as Fresh Spring Creek Rainbow Trout showcase the catch of the day. There always is a supply of trout on hand with many opportunities for fishermen of all skill levels - from first-timers to experts - to angle.
For children, fishing during the summer is a rite of passage and a time spent bonding with family. However, a poor first experience, meaning an empty hook on the end of a line, can deter youngsters from the joys of fishing, Breitmeier said. That's where the nearly surefire options at Elk Springs Resort come in.
"We want to make fishing a positive experience for children and their families. They can keep the fish at the pay pond or opt for catch-and-release," he said.
Patrick Skeen, the resort's assistant general manager and lead guide, said one of the hallmarks of Elk Springs is that it can customize a fishing excursion for any guest. Whether it is a day trip, overnight or multi-night stay, personalized and friendly customer service always is on the menu at Elk Springs, he said.
Skeen noted he is very excited about an all-inclusive package that is new this season. For $1,200 a person, or a $250 savings off a-la-cart pricing, guests may select from a variety of options during their four-night stay. It features three days of fishing, and each day offers a different outing. Included in the price are lodging fees and three meals a day at the restaurant.
"We now have guides on the back fork of the Elk, back country streams, native brook trout and wild brown trout (areas) and float trips to small-mouth bass and muskie."
Summertime also features an influx of new guides at the resort.
"These guys are young and are new faces. They can provide a totally different experience even if you already have fished with us," Skeen said, inviting those who may have tried the resort's amenities previously to come for a return trip.
"Everyone is welcome," Breitmeier said.
More information about Elk Springs Resort is available via its website, elkspringswv.com.