7 Nicknames for West Virginia You Should Know

5 min read

Destguides may receive commissions from purchases made through affiliate links in this article.

A large stone building with a domed roof next to trees and a river
Many of the nicknames given to West Virginia refer to how picturesque the state is

Though West Virginia is often overshadowed by its neighbor, Virginia, it's a fascinating state with a rich culture and history worth exploring. One of the best ways to get to know this part of the Eastern US a bit better is by learning about its many monikers.

Though it's most often known as the Mountain State, that's not the only title West Virginia has picked up throughout its history. So, whether you're planning a trip or are just trying to brush up on your knowledge of this state, keep reading. Here are seven nicknames for West Virginia you should know.

7 West Virginia Nicknames

An elevated bridge over a river surrounded by dense green forests
One of the nicknames for West Virginia alluding to its landscape is Almost Heaven

Almost Heaven

Perhaps one of the most beloved West Virginia facts is that the state has been referred to as Almost Heaven. This particular title was inspired by the American musician John Denver, who used the slogan to refer to West Virginia in his 1971 song "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

The area's landscape of scenic forests, rivers, and mountains has only added to Almost Heaven's popularity as a name. As have the number of outdoor activities that can be done in the area all year. This particular West Virginia title has been embraced by both the local government and citizens alike. It's used on souvenir items, in articles, and even seen on the state's official website.

Coal State

West Virginia's reputation as the Coal State is related to the large deposits of the substance found in the state's land. Since coal can be found in 53 of 55 counties, it's one of the natural resources that's most plentiful in the area.

To this day, some of the most important landmarks in West Virginia are related to the coal mining sector, like the Elkins Coal and Coke Company Historic District. However, this moniker isn't widely used as a nickname and more as a descriptor for the state's biggest energy source.

Over the years, it's become even less used as the industry has changed and alternatives to coal have slowly been embraced. So, it's mostly used in articles and other texts discussing this topic.

A body of water near forest-covered mountains under a cloudy sky
Because of the unique West Virginia terrain, the state is called Home of Mountaineers

Home of Mountaineers

The West Virginia nickname Home of Mountaineers has a two-fold origin. Due to the state's mountain terrain, many of the people who called the area home were considered mountaineers.

This name soon became associated with all of West Virginia's residents. So, when it was time to choose a mascot for the state university in the 1920s, a mountaineer was an obvious choice. Around this time, West Virginia became known as the Home of the Mountaineers, referring to the school's sports teams and students.

Today, the slogan is used most often in publications relating to the University of West Virginia. It's also found on banners and other memorabilia showing support for the school.

Switzerland of America

West Virginia's landscape is defined by the presence of multiple peaks belonging to the Appalachian Mountains. It's this terrain that helped the state earn the Switzerland of America nickname, as it is reminiscent of the Swiss Alps.

West Virginia also has multiple communities that help make this moniker even more relevant. Helvetia is a tiny area with around 50 residents known for its traditional Swiss homes and culture. On the other hand, Swiss is a slightly larger village that evokes this nickname's reputation with its name.

Since multiple states share this title, it's not used in much official literature. It's most often found in articles referencing the state and its landscape.

Mountain State is one of the nicknames for West Virginia
Mountain State is West Virginia's most popular name among locals and visitors

Mountain State

Mountain State is the official nickname for West Virginia, and it's not hard to see why. After all, the state is known for its mountainous landscape.

Most of the mountains in the state are part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. For example, the Allegheny Mountains are a stretch of slopes within the Appalachians. This particular range is home to Spruce Knob, the highest point in the state.

As the region's most famous moniker, it's been used in a variety of ways. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was printed on West Virginia license plates. Today, it's also regularly used in tourist information and marketing campaigns.

The Panhandle State

The West Virginia state nickname Pandhandle State comes from the territory's geography. Parts of the northern and eastern areas of the state jut out into neighboring states.

The Northern Panhandle extends into Ohio and Pennsylvania. It was created as the result of a territorial dispute in the 1780s. The Eastern Panhandle, instead, forms a border between Maryland and Virginia. Its formation came as a result of the state's separation from Virginia during the Civil War.

Though multiple other states in the US have panhandle territories, West Virginia is the only part of the country with two, leading to this moniker's creation. However, since it's a shared nickname with other places like Florida and Oklahoma, it's mostly used on souvenir items and in some publications relating to the state's geography.

A snow-covered mountain with trees under a blue sky with white clouds
You can enjoy many snow sports in the Winter Wonderland of West Virginia

Winter Wonderland

One of the most underrated nicknames for the state is Winter Wonderland. The state is one of the most elevated on the East Coast, thanks to its mountains, which allow for steady and widespread snow cover during the colder months.

This nickname doesn't just refer to how West Virginia looks during the winter. It also refers to the number of outdoor activities you can partake in when it's snowing. You can go on a snowy hike in the New River Gorge, ski various trails, rent a snowmobile, and much more.

This moniker is often used by tourism boards to promote travel to the area. It's also found in articles from notable publications. Occasionally, it's used on souvenirs during the winter months, especially around ski resorts and lodges.

In Summary

West Virginia has no shortage of nicknames that help capture what a fun, fascinating, and vibrant place it is. From being Almost Heaven to its reputation as the Home of Mountaineers, knowing the state's titles can help piece together its history.

Hopefully, this list has allowed you to get to know the Mountain State a little better. You might have even found a few monikers you'd like to try out for yourself!

Give us feedback about this article

Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 FORMER WRITER Gabrielle loves all things travel and culture. She is originally from the USA, but she has lived in Italy for over a decade. She's always ready to pack her bags, grab her passport, and head out on an adventure!

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

By entering your email address you agree to our terms and conditions, Privacy policy, and consent to receive emails.