Most travelers familiar with the West Virginia Turnpike (I-64) have visited Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia, located at exit 45, above the Beckley service area.
In 1996, Tamarack was opened by the West Virginia Parkways Authority as an economic development project. The large facility sells West Virginia craft products, as well as specialty food items, fine art, and West Virginia books and recordings. There are five resident artisan studios and most weekends from Spring through Fall there are also craft demonstrations.
The food court at the Tamarack is dedicated to regional cuisine, and is an excellent opportunity to have exceptionally well-cooked, high-quality food while you’re on the road. The prices reflect the quality– this isn’t an economy meal — but it is a really nice break from the fast food offered in the food court at the service area. Daily specials such as Tamarack’s Tuna Melt or Chicken Pot Pie, West Virginia-made jams and jellies, salad dressings and mustards, and locally grown trout and catfish are incorporated into daily menus; there’s also a country breakfast available.
The combination of the Tamarack and the service plaza give drivers the option of being able to park overnight in a secure area with ample food choices, and interesting shopping opportunities. Fuel, food and cigarettes all reflect turnpike prices, and tend to be somewhat higher, especially during peak travel seasons.
In June of this year, the service area opened shower facilities. The four stalls are really nice and well appointed, with plenty of space. If you take your own towel in, it’ll cost you $7.50, if you need a towel it’s $10. They do give a half-off voucher if you get 100 gallons of fuel, but judging from the fuel prices we saw, I’d venture to say most people don’t take on 100 gallons of fuel at the service plaza.
The parking area for trucks is well-lit and clean. There are plenty of trash cans available for the 50+ spaces, and WVDOT does a great job keeping the lot maintained. The one thing missing is a laundry facility. Stopping at the Tamarack for the night is a nice change from the sameness of the truck stops, and even if you’re not shopping, the artisans’ displays are interesting to look at while you get some exercise in a climate controlled area.
Bonus tip from West Virginia State Patrol Officer Chris Payne. He was having lunch with several other officers at the Tamarack when Overdrive writer Wendy Parker asked him if he’d do a five-second video of what he considers an important safety tip for drivers. Pretrip, pretrip, pretrip…