CHARLESTON — A new guide to West Virginia’s vacation venues is also a special edition that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the late John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” a song that people around the world associate with the Mountain State.
This week, Gov. Jim Justice unveiled the new West Virginia Vacation Guide, a travel inspiration magazine dedicated to promoting Almost Heaven, West Virginia.
“I’ve been saying it since the first day I took office: John Denver surely got it right when he coined ‘Almost Heaven, West Virginia.’ The song is a perfect love letter to our great state, and one that so many know by heart,” Justice said. “I’m so proud of this new guide. It showcases our four beautiful seasons, unmatched outdoor activities, and several of our incredible small mountain towns.”
Work on the 2021 Vacation Guide had already begun prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, the guide’s focus shifted slightly as new travel trends emerged showing the post-COVID traveler’s strong desire for road trips, outdoor recreation, and crowd-free small towns.
These trends align with not only the experiences West Virginia has to offer visitors, but also the anniversary of Denver’s song, state officials said. The new guide focuses heavily on road trips across the Mountain State.
“As soon as we saw the research on road trips, we knew we had the perfect pitch,” said Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “Summer road trips in West Virginia lead to destinations where folks can reconnect with what’s been missing over the past year. It’s the same sense of longing people feel each time they hear ‘Country Roads.’”
Dreama Denver of Mercer County, wife of the late Bob Denver, who played the title character of the classic television show “Gilligan’s Island,” remembered when “Country Roads” became a state song on March 7, 2014. She said that she led an effort in which listeners to the radio station “Little Buddy Radio,” 93.1 FM, wrote their senators and delegates about the song. Listeners also recalled the unexpected places where they have heard “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
“When I was doing this effort, it was pretty amazing,” Denver recalled. “People called to tell me where the song was sung to them. It has been sung to West Virginians on the Great Wall of China, at the United Arab Emirates and apparently every pub in Ireland. I’ve even heard rumors of it being sung in Mongolia.”
Denver is not related to the late John Denver.
In the last couple of years, the state’s current tourism administration obtained the right to use “Country Roads” in state promotions, according to Jamie Null, executive director of the Mercer County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The 2021 Vacation Guide was produced in partnership with Meredith Travel Marketing, a leading publisher which produces Southern Living, Real Simple, and Parents. This spring, more than 100,000 West Virginia Vacation Guides will be included with subscriber copies of Southern Living, Real Simple, and Parents magazines to encourage summer road trips to the Mountain State.
The Vacation Guide also features interactive content with the use of QR codes throughout. When scanned, codes bring the guides to life in a digital format and unlock exclusive content such as new covers of “Country Roads” by West Virginia artists and travel inspiration from more than 50 tourism partners.
“Our goal was to create a new marketing piece that helps visitors plan their trip whenever they may be ready. Spring, summer, winter, or fall – you’ll find travel tips and ideas for all seasons,” Ruby said. “By adding interactive components, we will continue to update and share new content with prospective travelers all year long.”
To request a copy of the special edition West Virginia Vacation Guide, visit WVtourism.com.
— Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com