Wonderful Waterfalls in West Virginia

Evamarie Augustine

Wild Wonderful West Virginia! Hiking, white water rafting, lakes, mountains and great food—there is so much to do and see!

Landlocked, West Virginia is a panhandle that sits between Virginia to the east and south, Maryland and Pennsylvania to the north, and Ohio and Kentucky to the west. Originally part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the names Kanawha after an Indian tribe, and Westylvania were considered, but neither stuck. 

West Virginia is the only state entirely within the Appalachian Mountain range, aptly given the nickname the Mountain State. West Virginia is easily accessible from most major points on the East Coast. In fact, West Virginia is located within a day’s drive from 75% of the U.S. population, 

Given its mountainous location, it's no surprise that West Virginia is estimated to have as many as 275 waterfalls.  

Blackwater Falls

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Named for its amber waters, Blackwater Falls is located in the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County. The main waterfall is a 57-foot cascade tinted by the tannic acid of fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. 

Located in Blackwater Falls State Park, the falls, along with a few of the park’s other features like Elakala Falls, Lindy Point and Pendleton Point Overlook, are some of the state’s most photographed spots. 

Blackwater Falls is easy to visit and is accessible by car and a short walk. There is a lodge right near the falls.

Cathedral Falls

Located one mile from the Gauley Bridge is one of West Virginia’s highest waterfalls. Cathedral Falls is about 60 feet tall. Its height gives the falls a sound that led to its name, “cathedral.”

The falls cascade down a narrow canyon, which babbegins on Gauley Mountain and makes a short but exciting trip to the New River. It actually drops nearly 100 feet over a series of Upper Nuttall sandstone ledges, but the final 60 feet of drops are the ones you can see from the roadside park.

Sandstone Falls

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A few miles south of Bluestone Dam are the Sandstone Falls. Sandstone Falls is a wide waterfall on the New River a few miles north of the town of Hinton. The New River is about 1500 feet wide at the point it encounters a sandstone ledge. The river breaks over and around the ledge, creating an island and a number of falls of varying heights and widths depending on the level of the river.

Babcock Mill Creek Falls

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One of West Virginia’s most photographed locales is the Glade Creek Grist Mill. Located on boulders in Babcock State Park, the mill serves as a tribute to the hundreds of mills that were once all over the state. And while the mill was built in 1976, Glade Creek is a patchwork quilt of sorts, built with parts salvaged from much older mills that had ceased operation.

When you’re done with the waterfalls, try some white water rafting!

West Virginia has some of the best white water rafting for both beginners and more experienced rafters. The New River Gorge area offers tours for all levels, while the Gauley is for those with more experience. The New River is actually one of the oldest in the world and unusually flows south to north because it was formed before the mountains.

While open all year, Gauley Season is a particularly special time. The Summersville Lake dam is released for six weekends in September and October and rafters from around the world visit. The river consists of 2 distinct sections, the Upper and Lower Gauley. 

The Upper Gauley is the premier iconic Class V run on the East Coast and has some of the best whitewater in the world. 

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