This year’s fall foliage is the best in a decade, according to the West Virginia Department of Tourism.
People are currently flocking to West Virginia from across the country to see the gorgeous fall colors throughout the Mountain State.
New River Gorge National Park & Preserve is one of the most popular destinations for fall foliage lovers, so we’ve compiled a list of the top ten places in and around New River Gorge that offer the best views.
#1: Grandview Main View
The Grandview Main Overlook offers one of the best views of the New River Gorge. The Main Overlook is easily accessible as it is a short walk from the lookout parking lot.
To reach Grandview from Beckley, follow I-64 East for five miles to exit 129 B. From Lewisburg, follow I-64 West for forty miles to exit 129. Turn right at both exits and follow the Route 9 North six miles to Grandview.
#2: Diamond Point View
Diamond Point Overlook is another location in the New River Gorge that offers stunning views of the fall colors. Diamond Point is on the Endless Wall Trail. The Endless Wall Trail is an easy to moderate 2.4 mile hike (one way) or 2 miles if you stop at Diamond Point and walk back.
There are many other beautiful views along the way, but Diamond Point offers the most rewarding view of the New River and the canyon that looks like an endless wall. There are two trailheads and the car parks for both are small and usually fill up frequently, do not park on the street as you risk being towed.
To reach the Endless Wall trailheads, turn off Route 19 onto the Lansing-Edmond Road, which is north of the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. Fern Creek Trailhead is 1.3 miles (just before Fern Creek) down this road while the Nuttall Trailhead is 1.8 miles off US Route 19. This is a narrow street; please drive carefully.
No. 3: Fayette Station Rd
The scenic drive from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, under the New River Gorge Bridge, across the river and up the mountain to the other side offers many areas to view the fall foliage. This hike is perfect for those who like to see the sights but aren’t a fan of hiking as you don’t have to get out of your vehicle to take in all the views.
This drive allows to see the New River Gorge Bridge with the fall colors that surround it from all angles. The Fayette Station Bridge, Wolf Creek Falls, and the New River below also offer unbeatable views.
To get there, exit the Canyon Rim Visitor Center parking lot and return to the Route 19 four-lane freeway. Turn right (north) onto US 19 and take the next right onto Lansing-Edmond Road (County Routes 5 and 82). . After 1/4 mile turn right onto the road with a sign saying Fayette Station Road. The road forks almost immediately; take the left fork. Fayette Station Road continues into the gorge on a series of two-way and one-way roads, passing under the New River Gorge Bridge twice and past exhibits along the road. Cross the reconstructed Fayette Station Bridge below, reopened in 1998 as the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge. Park in the Fayette Station parking lot and check out the wild waters here. The GPS coordinates to the parking lot are 38.06625⁰ N, 81.08130⁰ W. After exiting Fayette Station, the road winds back to Fayetteville. The entire drive from the Visitor Center to Fayetteville takes approximately 40 minutes (non-stop).
Fayette Station Road is a narrow one-way street and NOT suitable for large vehicles.
#4: Babcock State Park
Located less than 30 minutes from the New River Gorge Bridge, Babcock State Park is one of the most photographed spots in West Virginia.
Babcock State Park is home to the famous Glade Creek Grist Mill, which has stood on the banks of Glade Creek since 1976. The mill was built using parts from other mills in the state. The fall leaves and gristmill can make for some very special photos.
The entire park offers some beautiful views, so be sure to check out what the rest of the park has to offer.
Babcock State Park is located at 496 Babcock Rd, Danese, West Virginia, USA.
#5: Concho View
The Concho Overlook can be reached from the Ace Adventure Resort in Minden. This view overlooks the New River winding around the mountain and passing the railroad ghost town of Thurmond.
The city of Thurmond and the Thurmond Bridge can be seen from this vantage point, and if you’re lucky you may catch a freight train or Amtrak going around the mountain, resulting in breathtaking views.
Concho Road at Ace Adventure Resort leads directly to the lookout and is located at Concho Rim Overlook, Oak Hill, WV 25901.
#6: Hawks Nest State Park
Located about twenty minutes from the New River Gorge Bridge, Hawks Nest State Park is home to some amazing New River Gorge viewpoints.
The Lover’s Leap lookout will blow your mind with the abundance of fall foliage that surrounds it. There are no bad angles at this vantage point as each photo will be perfect with the incredible views of the gorge, Hawks Nest Dam and the historic C&O train ram crossing the New River.
Those wanting to see the fall foliage from the top of the gorge all the way down to the river are in luck, as the nearly two-mile Hawks Nest Rail Trail follows Mill Creek down to the New River. This trail consists of many waterfalls, old trestles and of course lots of fall colors.
Hawks Nest State Park is located at 49 Hawks Nest Road, Ansted, WV 25812.
#7: Sandstone Falls
Sandstone Falls is the largest waterfall on the New River as the falls are 1,500 feet wide. Sandstone Falls can be easily accessed via the boardwalk, which offers many different views of the falls and the New River Gorge. The rushing waters of the very wide falls combined with the foliage of the mountains will surely create a picturesque scene.
Sandstone Falls is just outside the town of Hinton in Summers County, the southern gateway to the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. After crossing the bridge at Hinton, follow River Road along the New River. The trip ends at the Sandstone Falls day area, where you begin your stroll along the boardwalk and bridges that span the two islands below the falls.
Prince is one of the least-visited areas in New River Gorge National Park & Preserve but offers some pretty stunning views, especially in the fall. The Prince Bridge crosses the New River at the Fayette/Raleigh County line, allowing easy access to view the fall foliage along the river.
Prince used to be a thriving town when the C&O railroad was the most common means of travel and coal was king. The 1946 C&O Personnel Depot in Prince is still used as an Amtrak train station and can serve as the perfect backdrop for fall photos.
Some other places near Prince include McCreery Boat Launch, Grandview Sandbar, Army Camp Campground, and Glade Creek Campground, all located on the New River.
Prince is located at Prince, WV 25907 off Route 41.
Thurmond used to be a booming railroad town on the New River, but when demand for coal fell and steam engines were no longer used on the C&O railroad, the town began to decline. As the advent of automobiles allowed for easier and faster travel, passenger transport on railroads declined significantly. People began moving out of Thurmond to more accessible locations, and the town now has a population of just about five.
Most of the city is now owned and maintained by the National Park Service. They have restored the Thurmond Depot and turned it into a seasonal visitor center and museum.
The depot, commercial buildings, bridge and abandoned houses make for an eerie but beautiful sight in the fall.
When you visit, keep an eye out for the railway tracks as they are still active.
To reach Thurmond, take US Route 19 to the Glen Jean exit, north of Beckley. Follow signs to Thurmond, seven miles on WV Route 25 (Route 25 is a narrow, winding road and is not recommended for RVs and trailers).
#10: Summersville Lake
Though Summersville Lake isn’t directly in the New River Gorge, the 20-minute drive from the NRG Bridge is worth considering.
Formed by a rock fill dam on the Gauley River in Nicholas County, the lake is the largest lake in West Virginia. The best views are from Long Point Overlook and Summersville Dam.
Directions to Summersville Lake from I-79 North: Take Exit 57, US Rt. 19 S to Summersville. Five miles south of Summersville turn right onto Rt. 129 (traffic light). From I-64 East or West and I-77 South: Take Exit 48, US Rt. 19N. Travel US Rt. 19N to Rt. 129 (traffic light and U-Save on right), turn left onto Rt. 129.
The New River Gorge region should peak by the end of October, according to the West Virginia Department of Tourism’s 2022 fall foliage map.