National Radio Quiet Zone, a place that doesn't seem real. Here is what it's like staying where the airwaves are clean.
West Virginia

What it’s like staying in the Quiet Zone of West Virginia

You have probably heard of the Radio Quiet Zone from NPR, news outlets, and television shows. Many think it’s a hoax or as Shane Dawson likes to say “Conspiracy Theory”.

With cell service being an issue in many of our lives…

Entering into a “Quite Zone” can feel like just an ordinary day of cell phone frustration. That is until you learn there is no wifi in the motel room and the assistant at the front desk of your hotel informs you that it would cost them over $50,000 to do so.

That’s what happened to us on our Road Trip through West Virginia when we didn’t realize we were in a quiet zone until we were literally told we were in a quiet zone.


What is the “Quiet Zone”?

The quiet zone is an area dedicated towards providing protection of the National radio telescope for both government and scientific purposes. The zone measures over 13,000 square miles and restricts access to radio wave usage.

There are two major telescopes that are part of this area and the reason for the restrictions. To learn more click here.


Marlinton, WV is just off of RT 219. It has about 3 traffic lights (we didn’t exactly count) and everything but the Dairy Queen closes at 8pm.
We were only staying the night as we planned to head on to The Greenbrier and then back north the following day. We had just come from Gettysburg and Harpers Ferry which was about a total of 6 hours of driving. We were exhausted and hungry by the time we arrived at the motel. We arrived around 7pm at the Marlinton Motor Inn, had a small “birthday celebration” and decided to head into town for dinner a little before 8pm.

Don’t get us wrong, West Virginia completely surprised both of us with their hospitality and attractions. Although the quiet zone, might be one of the creepiest places in the 21st century we have experienced.

After realizing that Dairy Queen was going to be our only form of food that night, we ate our burgers and ordered ice cream cones to go. The night was sticky and hot, so naturally, we sat outside to eat the delicious melting dessert.

Maybe it’s just West Virginia or maybe it was the fact that there was no radio waves in the air, but as we sat outside eating our ice cream we also became swarmed by huge gnats. (Google informs me that they are also called Wood Gnats or Sylviacola punctatus, for scientific purposes). These pesky bugs gave us a run for our money as we tried to enjoy the silent, pitch black sky. After a few minutes of being attacked and Peter almost eating one of those lovely bugs (extra protein), we gave up and hopped back into the car to head back to the motel.

National Radio Quiet Zone, a place that doesn't seem real. Here is what it's like staying where the airwaves are clean.

Once we arrived back at the hotel, the night was so quiet that you could probably hear a deer ten miles down the road as if it were right next to you. Until you experience the lack of hum from electronics you really have no idea how much it actually plays a part in your everyday life.

Looking around the parking lot, with no cell service, the atmosphere took on a new feeling for me. Maybe I’ve watched too many horror movies but I ran into the motel room where I promptly locked the door behind me and stayed inside for the rest of the night.

Sitting in the silent hotel room, we realized how dependent we are to our electronics and the internet. From downloading a book on our kindles to checking on the best GPS route for our travels the next day we are dependent on the little computers we carry around everyday.

As the exhaustion of the hot day at Harpers Ferry and long drive sank in we drifted off to sleep early. The next morning we woke up bright and early thanks to the sun. With checkout being around 11 we got ready for the day and as we opened the motel door we were greeted with sight of walking directly into the film Silent Hill.

The sun was high, but you couldn’t see less than 10 feet in front of you. The fog was so thick that I questioned if we were somehow catapulted into a new dimension. I packed the car while Peter went to check out. And soon we headed on our way towards the Greenbrier.

There was still no cell service for at least an hour outside of town, making for those wishing me a happy birthday concerned about the lack of replies in the last 24hours. But there was no warning, no sign or anything expect for a lack of cell service before heading into the quiet zone.

Ultimately we liked the reprieve and the mystery of everything. However, I definitely need to stop watching so many horror movies so I can sleep better next time the unexpected happens.

Have you ever stayed in the quiet zone?


Road Trip Map


The Portly Passengers are two individuals who live the plus size life and love to travel. They give tips and advice on traveling as a plus size person, city itineraries, food and attractions reviews and much more.

The Portly Passengers provides plus size inclusive travel tips and advice for anyone who is looking to explore the world. From seat sizes on airplanes to exploring museums, restaurants, and nature Melissa & Peter have the experience and stories to help guide you through it.

Melissa & Peter are a couple of goofballs who are in love with traveling & each other.

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