About the Refuge

Joe-pye weed beside the Blackwater River - Gerri Wilson.

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s 500th was established on August 11, 1994, with the purchase of 86 acres. The refuge currently is 16,550 acres. The refuge works to preserve the unique wetlands and uplands of this high elevation, moist valley.

The valley’s high elevation and position in the Allegheny Mountains combine to create a cool, moist climate more typical in Maine and Canada. Visitors enjoy our snowy winters, cool summers and the expansive views looking over grasslands and wetlands. This climate supports species, like balsam fir, cottongrass, woodcock and fisher usually found far north of here. Many plants and animals are near their southern limits amidst the valley’s rugged beauty. Rare species abound in the high elevation wetlands. The refuge is home to 580 species of plants and 288 different animals; quite a diversity of life.

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Brochure (pdf)