When you stand at an overlook in the New River Gorge, you notice the steep canyon walls and sandstone cliffs that characterize the area. The V-shaped canyon of the New River is an outstanding natural feature of West Virginia. It was caused by erosion that has occurred over a very long period of time, forming the cliffs and canyon walls. You can see the ongoing effects of erosion in the large rocks and slides that have tumbled from the cliffs and down into the river.
The gorge cuts through the Appalachian Plateau, and exposes 3200 feet of very old rocks. Most of the rocks that you can see exposed in the gorge are sandstone and shale. In the lower gorge, the New River cuts through the hard Nuttall sandstone, a unique sandstone type that is 98% quartz. The area of the lower gorge around Batoff Mountain is one of the best exposures of sandstone in the area; these rocks are among the oldest found in the gorge.