Editorials, Opinion

Coopers Rock overlook closure may have an end date — hopefully sooner than later

West Virginia is blessed with the beauty of nature’s bounty. From the rolling hills, to the plunging gorges, to the rushing rivers and placid lakes, the Mountain State is home to gorgeous vistas and breathtaking views. But nowhere is that beauty quite so accessible as it is at the Coopers Rock scenic overlook. 

Unfortunately, the bridge leading to the overlook was unexpectedly closed almost two weeks ago for “structural repairs.” At the time of the bridge’s closure, West Virginia State Parks said it would be closed “until further notice.”  

“Further notice” may have finally come. Gov. Jim Justice visited the park yesterday to announce the opening of new stargazing cabins. At the event, it was said the scenic overlook bridge should be finished by late spring/early summer. 

We’re glad there is an opening date in sight, though we certainly hope the bridge is done sooner rather than later. 

Many of the state’s most spectacular views can only be found after taking a hike, which is fine and dandy for the able-bodied. As many people said after the bridge to the overlook was closed, Ravens Rock, which offers a similar view, is only a three-mile round-trip hike away. But for anyone with limited mobility or a physical disability, that might as well be on another planet. 

That’s what makes the Coopers Rock scenic overlook so special. It doesn’t just offer a nearly 360-degree view of the Cheat River Gorge; it’s an easy walk for anyone of virtually any age and any ability and as wheelchair-accessible as a natural outcropping can be. That feature alone draws visitors from near and far to Coopers Rock State Forest. 

If the overlook remains closed too long, word will spread that Coopers Rock isn’t worth the trip — or the detour for people passing through the area. And that’s the opposite of what anyone wants: We want Coopers Rock and its overlook to continue to be a destination people are willing to travel out of their way to see. We want them to stand on that outcrop and be stunned by West Virginia’s beauty. We want that awe to stay with them long after they’ve finished “passing through,” so hopefully they’ll come back again. 

But first, that bridge needs fixed, and we hope it will be given the priority it deserves.