Roughing it isn't exactly the way we spend our annual autumn weekend in a cabin in the mountains of West Virginia. Rocks, woods, crystal-clear streams, deer, skunks, raccoons, and even two spectacular nearby waterfalls make the area outside our cabin live up to its wild reputation. An electric stove and huge refrigerator, modern heating and plumbing systems, and comfortable furnishings insure the interior of our cabin in a West Virginia state park its "deluxe" billing, and to me that's wonderful. We've come to Blackwater Falls State Park every autumn for the past five years, and we've never been disappointed with our weekend in the woods. On our way along the 210-mile drive from Washington, we travel well-paved roads that are free of the crowds one expects on a fall Friday trip where the foliage and mountain scenery are so spectacularly colorful and the cider stands so full of good food at reasonable rates. We're always amazed at how quickly after our arrival from Washington we feel at home in our cabin's woodsy setting. When we walk into the cabin the beds are made, ice cubes are ready in the refrigerator's freezer, and a generous supply of firewood is on the stone hearth. There's a whole woodhouse of firewood waiting for us outside, with an ax for those who feel the urge to split logs. Within a half-hour we can sit before a blaze roaring in the fireplace and look out the picture window of the pine-panelled cabin to the woods all around. Even with the threat of snow in the air -- which delights us in early October when not more than a few inches fall -- the insulated cabins can be cozy, since each has its own forced-air furnace and thermostat which cabin occupants control. The electric stove in the fully-equipped kitchen has an automatic cooking cycle, great for putting dinner in the oven, going hiking or sightseeing, and coming back to a ready-cooked meal. Even the dishes contribute to the rustic yet comfortable mood. The dinner plates picture a park cabin, smoke rising from its stone chimney, trees on each side, and mountains in the background, while the smaller plates show a deer beside a grove of birch trees. Deer-sighting is one of the pleasures in this 1,688-acre park where hunting, of course, is never allowed. Most evenings we see three or four deer -- one time there were 12 -- on the lawn in front of the Blackwater Falls Lodge. The deer continue to graze as we watch, running away only if someone startles them. One quiet morning my 10- year-old son went out in the woods behind our cabin to build a fort from the fallen wood all around and met a beautiful large deer that stopped and watched his fort- building. Times like that -- the unexpected -- make it interesting here. One night the lodge's parking lot was littered with a pathetic sight. An ice storm in the cold October sky had forced thousands of birds down to earth, where they lay stunned, half-frozen and unable to move. Many were dead. Some were recovering, and the park naturalist and visitors tried to warm, feed and help save them. The bird scene, like an unusual movie, is something my children remember vividly. We've spotted foxes, beaver, groundhogs, deer, rabbits, mice and wild turkey in the park. Last year we added a new critter to our list when a large skunk ambled slowly towards us. He was far more interested in being friendly than we were, and, fortunately, far less excited to see us than we were to see him. His coat was a beautiful soft, silky, shiny black with an immaculate white stripe running down the middle of his back. He returned that evening and again the n windy days their spray dampens the faces of visitors walking down the wooden stairways to observation platforms at the base of the falls. Below the falls, the river winds down Blackwater Canyon in a spectacular series of rapids and cascades, falling 1,350 feet in 10 miles. Located on the south rim of the canyon, Blackwater Lodge has 55 guest rooms, a restaurant, gift shop, game room and an enormous fireplace that's had a huge blaze going every time I've been there. From the outlook behind the lodge, visitors can watch Pendleton Falls cascading down into the deep boulder-strewn gorge. Only 100 yards from the lodge, one of the park's hiking trails crosses a footbridge over the beautiful Falls of Elakala. The lodge is also the headquarters from which the park naturalists conduct year- round interpretive programs which include movies and slide shows, evening campfires, hikes and automobile trips to interesting places nearby. One Saturday the naturalist led us to the Fairfax Stone Monument which marks the boundary between Maryland and West Virginia as determined by the Supreme Court after a dispute between the two states. The original Fairfax Stone was placed here in 1746 to mark the westernmost corner of Lord Fairfax's six million acre grant, one of the largest estates in the world. We saw a small stream here, not much more than a trickle, and were surprised to learn it was the headwaters of the Potomac River. From this spot the naturalist took us on a fossil hunt where we learned about fossilized rocks, and found some. Last October we toured the Dolly Sods Wilderness, a unique part of the Monongahela National Forest famous for its primitive beauty, with strange rock formations and cranberries, sphagnum moss, reindeer moss, sundews and other unusual plants. The 50-mile roundtrip from Blackwater Falls to Dolly Sods Wilderness is filled with rugged mountain grandeur dotted with cabins, rocky streams and animals tilting as they graze on the steep hillsides. The winding roads provide breathtaking views, but some of these country roads could make a squeamish driver breathless. It's hard to imagine Washington's only a five-hour drive from such a wilderness setting. Dolly Sods is named for a German pioneer family named Dohle, whose livestock grazed on the open grassy areas called "sods." A small sign at the rustic entrance to the area states that this place was once used for military exercises. If you find a bomb or mortar, it warns, don't touch it: make a map and report the find to the park rangers. Bombs and mortars aren't my favorite discoveries, and I'd decided not to stray far from the main dirt road, even before I read that sign. We drove on up the dirt road, ascending steep slopes to the lookout point on the crest of the Alleghenies. Getting out of the car, a tremendous change in the climate startled us. The north wind doth blow all the time up there it seems, judging from the one- sided windblown trees and the blustery gusts we experienced on a beautiful fall day. Any cows that managed to climb up there to graze must have produced ice cream. The view from this point, reminiscent of the Alps, calls for superlatives and is well worth the drive to get there. Rows and rows of mountains stretched before us, with a striking crest of rocky ranges in the middle of the panorama, which extends for easily 50 miles on a clear day. Campsites were available a short drive from this spot, although the combination of the cold wind and the bomb warning would require campers to be more fearless and adventurous than I am. I thought the story of cows making She pulled back one ear, then the other, left no doubt of her opinion and finally pulled over to the side of the road and walked on past us. We drove back to Blackwater Falls without any more adventures. Sometimes during our annual visit we drive to Canaan Valley State Park, which is 10 miles from Blackwater Falls. The trip takes us up and down rollercoaster hills. At the top of the last hill the Canaan Valley ski slopes are part of the magnificent vista which reminds me of the story of the discoverer of Canaan Valley, who, stumbling upon it accidentally in 1753 was moved by its beauty to cry out, "Behold! The land of Canaan!" Much of the original splendor remains today in this park's 6,000 acres and surrounding area. The coexistence of old and new were obvious one weekend when, staying in a Blackwater Falls cabin, we drove over to see the modern lodge being constructed at Canaan Valley. (It's now completed, with 250 guest rooms and a restaurant.) On a road near the lodge, a family of beavers crossed in front of us, carrying materials for the dam we watched them building across the park stream. On Sunday evening we all -- cabin dwellers, lodge guests and campers (Blackwater Falls has a 65-unit tent and trailer campground) -- gather for bingo run by the park naturalist. There's a great deal of competition in this game where items such as coal jewelry (tie clips or pins with a black coal center) and tin cups with color pictures of park scenes are the much sought-after prizes. For the unlucky losers, these items are available for a nominal fee in the lodge gift shop. Monday morning we're up early (cabins must be vacated by 9 a.m.) to end our weekend in the wilderness that, with the comforts of civilization round us, went by all too soon again. HOW TO GET THERE To drive to Blackwater Falls State Park from Washington or Maryland, take I-70 to Hancock, Maryland, then U.S. 40 to Cumberland, then U.S. 220 to U.S. 50 west to Germania, West Virginia. There take state Route 90 to Thomas, then 32 to Davis. Park entrance is a quarter-mike southwest off Route 32. From Virginia, take the Capital Beltway to I-270 north to Frederick, and continue as above. Reservations in all 14 West Virginia state parks and four state forests can be made by calling the toll-free number 800/624-8632 from 8:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Blackwater's campgrounds close October 31; reservations are not accepted, but usually there is space on weekends ($4.50 for a six-person site). The cabins are all booked every weekend until March -- but there is space available in the lodge the second and third weekends in November. Some of the parks, such as Cacapon, only a 90-minute drive from the District in Berkeley Springs, offer a variety of accommodations ranging from lodge rooms to deluxe, standard and economy cabins. Centrally heated ("deluxe") cabins are open year-round, except at Bluestone State Park in Hinton where the cabins close December 14, and at Tygart Lake, where the cabins close October 25. Standard and economy cabins at all West Virginia state parks close October 25. Note deluxe cabins are booked as much as 10 months in advance, particularly for weekends and holidays. The state park system's major winter sports area is Canaan Valley, with complete ski facilities and ice skating rink. For more information write the Office of Economic and Community Development, Travel Development Division, State Capitol-SP, Charleston, West Virginia 25305, or phone 800/624-9110.