VISIT SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA

The best views you can have all to yourself

May 16, 2017

Most tourists don’t know about these splendid (but overlooked) New River Gorge panoramas.

Plus, you can drive from one dazzling overlook to the next, all in one weekend. Easy!

Sandstone Falls

Sandstone Falls

Imagine: 1,500 feet of frothing cascades and glistening black rocks. It’s a scene worthy of any painting, yet this spot sits off the beaten path.

Turn those missed tourist opportunities to your advantage. Drive on I-64 until you see Exit 139 for Sandstone. Turn there and look for the visitor center. You can get more instructions from a ranger, or proceed on Route 20 towards Hinton.

That’s when you’ll be close to Sandstone Falls — the Gorge’s widest cascade. Pull off at the overlook for enchanting vistas 600 feet above the river, or get even closer on the boardwalk. From there, you can watch cascades plunge 10-15 feet into the frothy river. It’s a scene no camera should do without!

Another highlight is Brooks Overlook. From here, you get front-row views of the many islands that sprinkle the Sandstone area. And here’s the best part: it’s home to nesting bald eagles! With luck, you’ll capture the wild, wonderful landscape photo of your life.

Grandview

Grandview

Now here’s a place that truly lives up to its name. The best seats around are at Main Overlook, which positions you 1,400 feet above the New River. Miles of water bow around a projecting mountain and rumpled cliffs fill the horizon. It’s especially gorgeous at dusk, when sunsets tint everything pink, orange, and purple.

For an extra bonus, come in May; that’s when Catawba rhododendrons frame the overlook with magenta blooms.

But if you’re not here in spring, Grandview’s trails are worth a visit any time of year. Castle Rock boasts spectacular sandstone walls, layered just like scales. It’s a short but strenuous hike, and steep drop-offs are hazardous for young kids. But any adult in reasonable condition will be awed by the experience.

Grandview Rim Trail gives you bang for your buck, too. It takes you past multiple panoramas— a real treat. Walk the entire 3.5 miles (round trip), or finish at Turkey Spur Overlook.

View of the New River Gorge Bridge from the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge aka: Fayette Station Bridge

Fayette Station Road

If you’ve ever examined West Virginia’s state quarter, you’ve seen the New River Gorge Bridge — the longest steel-arch span in the Americas. While that’s pretty nifty, it does a whole lot more by saving everybody a 40-minute commute! (That’s the distance folks had to drive before the bridge was built.)

For decades, though, Fayette Station Road was the only way folks could cross the New River. Now it’s easily missed by tourists as they drive the easy way to Fayetteville. To get there, head north on US-19 and turn right on Lansing-Edmond Road. After .25 miles, you’ll see a sign for Fayette Station Road. Follow that and take the sharp left fork — voila!

What follows is a twisty descent that winds past ghost town foundations and loops underneath the New River Gorge Bridge twice. Pull over when you can; the 876-foot-high span as it towers above the forests makes an awesome sight!

For history facts and narration, download the audio tour before you go.

Where do you like to go sightseeing in Southern West Virginia?

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