Scenic Drives at New River Gorge

View down a single lane bridge surrounded by green trees and fog
Fayette Station Bridge

Danny Lee

 

Visiting New River Gorge National Park and Preserve by vehicle is an up-and-down experience. While some roads travel along the rim and some along the river, others wind up-and-down between the two. Vistas along the rim offer views of the sandstone walls of the gorge and the river below. At the bottom of the gorge along the river there is relatively little flat land, but it provides an opportunity to view the New River and its plants and animals.

Life is diverse and abundant within the park. Vultures soar over the gorge, salamanders hide in the damp forest, great blue herons stand at the river's edge, and deer browse the slopes. Spring with its wildflowers and fall with its tapestry of colored leaves are special times for a gorge visit.

Hidden by the forest, but equally abundant are traces of the past…foundations, ruins, abandoned roads, coke ovens, and cemeteries. The gorge once held dozens of towns whose inhabitants built railroads, logged trees, and mined coal.

The roads that parallel and cross the gorge afford glimpses of the past and an appreciation of the present.

 
A large arched bridge spanning a gorge covered in bright green trees.
Fayette Station Road provides great, up close views of the New River Gorge Bridge.

NPS photo

New River Gorge Scenic Drive

Encircling the heart of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, the scenic drive is an estimated three-hour trip. The 83-mile route includes interstates, divided highways, and two-lane roads. The scenic drive is an opportunity to experience the park—its gorge and its river. Along the way are broad vistas as well as small glimpses of both the past and the present. Two park visitor centers, Canyon Rim and Sandstone, supplement the tour with interpretation of the natural and historic resources of the park.

 
Map of New River Gorge NPP. with the scenic drive highlighted in dark blue and a connector route highlighted in green, bisecting the park.
Map of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve scenic drive

NPS

 

Scenic Drive Stops

 
The main entrance to Canyon Rim Visitor Center
Canyon Rim Visitor Center

NPS/S. Merlau

Canyon Rim Visitor Center

Approximate distance: 0.1 miles from US 19

Canyon Rim Visitor Center is located on the rim of the gorge near the New river gorge bridge. Open daily, the center offers interpretive exhibits, a park film, bookstore, and photographic views of the New River Gorge. Fully accessible walkways lead to overlooks, which provide views of the river, its gorge, and the bridge that has spanned it since 1977.

 
A foggy covered, metal bridge over a river.
Fayette Station Bridge

NPS/Louise McLaughlin

Fayette Station Road

Approximate distance: 0.1 miles from US 19


The 7.5 mile drive begins from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.

Fayette Station Road is a mostly one-lane road that winds down under the New River Gorge Bridge and is a spur of the National Coal Heritage Trail. Roadside exhibits describe the history of mining, transportation, and life in the gorge. A parking area affords views of Fayette Station Rapid, and often of rafters and kayakers ending their whitewater trips.
 
Historic signs and ruins of Kaymoor Mine
Historic sign and ruins of Kaymoor Mine

NPS

Kaymoor Mine Area

Approximate distance: 3.9 miles from US 19 on Gatewood Road

One of the largest coal mines of the gorge, the Kaymoor Mine prospered for sixty years, closing in 1962. From a parking area at the rim of the gorge, the Kaymoor Miners Trail descends steeply ½ miles to the abandoned mine. Reaching the remains of the tipple at river level requires an 821 step descent along the haulage and then a strenuous return climb.

 
Brick store fronts of Thurmond's commercial row in front railroad tracks
Thurmond's Commercial Row

NPS

Thurmond Historic District

Approximate Distance: 7 miles from US 19 at Glen Jean

Following Dunloup Creek for seven miles, narrow Route 25 leads to the restored Thurmond Depot on the far side of the river. Open daily in the summer, Depot exhibits interpret the town and railroad operations. A short walk to “downtown” Thurmond offers a look at this once-thriving community. Picnicking, fishing, and hiking trails are nearby.

CAUTION: The railroad line is active. Keep off the tracks.

 
Historic photo of Quinnimont depot, railroad tracks, and houses.
Historic Quinnimont

NPS

Quinnimont Connector

Approximate Distance: 24.2 Miles from Glen Jean to Danese

Route 61 leads to a turn onto Route 41, which follows Piney Creek to descend into the gorge. McCreery offers a close-up view of the New River. After crossing the bridge, note the Stretcher’s Neck railroad tunnel, the train depot, and then search for the Beury Mounument behind the old post office in Quinnimont before following Laurel Creek out of the gorge to the town of Danese.

 
Hiker on Glade Creek Trail
Hiker on Glade Creek Trail

NPS

Glade Creek Area

Approximate Distance: 6.3 miles from Route 41

Just before the bridge that crosses the New River is a gravel road that leads to Glade Creek. Known as the Royal Road, it passes the scattered foundations of the town of Royal, ¼ miles down the road. One mile down is Grandview Sandbar with picnicking, camping, and river access. Five miles further down is Glade Creek with a small campground, river access, and trailhead.

 
A bend in the New River from Grandview
View from the main overlook in Grandview

NPS

Grandview

Approximate Distance: 5 miles from I-64 at exit 129

The overlooks at Grandview, the highest in the park, offer broad views of the land cut by the New River and its many tributaries. Rhododendron frame the view in mid-May and fall color adds to the panorama in October. Grandview offers trails, picnicking, a summer-season visitor center, and outdoor summer evening performances by Theater West Virginia.

 
Sandstone Visitor Center
Sandstone Visitor Center

NPS

Sandstone Visitor Center

Approximate distance: 0.1 miles from I-64 at exit 139

A large inlaid floor map, a brief video, a bookstore, and a native plant landscape are features of Sandstone Visitor Center, which is open daily. Interactive exhibits and touch-screen computers interpret the rich resources of the New River watershed and describe ways that individuals can lessen their impacts on the environment.

 
Sandstone Falls
Sandstone Falls

NPS

Sandstone Falls

Approximate distance: 22.5 miles from I-64 at exit 139

Route 20 climbs Chestnut Mountain to an overlook of Sandstone Falls before descending into Hinton. After crossing the New River, narrow Route 26, River Road, follows the river for 10 miles. A stop at Brooks Falls offers views of river ledge and a river “hole”. At Sandstone Falls, the largest waterfall on the New River, a fully-accessible boardwalk leads to an island and its observation decks.

 
A wooden water wheel next to a creek
The Grist Mill at Babcock State Park

NPS

Babcock State Park

Approximate Distance: 0.5 miles from Route 41

Babcock State Park, one of the oldest parks in West Virginia, is located within the boundaries of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. A feature of the 4,000 acre park is a widely-photographed grist mill. Within the park are log cabim accommodations, hiking trails, a stable, a lake for fishing and boating, and campsites.

 
cliffs with clouds overhead
Endless Wall

NPS

Endless Wall

Approximate distance: 1.2 miles from US 19, just north of Canyon Rim Visitor Center

From the Fern Creek parking area, the 2.4 miles Endless Wall Trail winds through the hemlock forests and rhododendron thickets. The long sandstone outcrop is favored by rock climbers. Rewards are the views from vantage points above Endless Wall at Diamond Point.

 

Scenic Drives in and around the Park

  • bridge at bottom of gorge

    Fayette Station Road

    Exploring Fayette Station Road is to travel back in time before the modern New River Gorge Bridge was built in 1977.

  • coal miners

    African American Heritage Auto Tour

    Journey along a self guided auto tour that helps tell the story of the African American experience in the gorge.

  • train cars

    Coal Heritage Trail

    Traversing five Southern West Virginia counties this 146-mile route features many historic sites associated with coal mining.

Last updated: August 10, 2022

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P.O. Box 246, 104 Main Street
Glen Jean , WV 25846

Phone:

304-465-0508

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