New River Gorge Fall Bucket List

Experience an unforgettable autumn in America’s newest national park! From vibrant fall foliage to outdoor adventures to cozy getaways, there’s a colorful adventure waiting for you in the New River Gorge this season. Try to check off all of these bucket list items on your next fall trip to the area. 

Raft a Famous River

Known for being one of the most beautiful and intense rivers in the world, the Gauley River is a must-try for the ultimate adventure seekers! The Upper Gauley is a 13-mile stretch of river that drops nearly 400 feet, creating powerful rapids and huge waves! The lower section of the river winds through a rugged, almost untouched wilderness, making it the perfect place to view the foliage. The raging Gauley River is only open to rafters a few weekends out of the year, so if you find yourself not ready to tackle the Beast of the East, there is always the New River! From scenic sights of the New River Gorge canyon on the mild Upper to in-your-face excitement on the wild Lower, rafting the New River won’t disappoint! 

Walk Directly Under the New River Gorge Bridge

See the Gorge in all of its fall glory on a Bridge Walk tour. Walk across the New River Gorge on a 24-inch wide catwalk, 850 feet above the New River! In addition to a one-of-a-kind perspective, your tour guides will teach you about the history of the area and facts about the construction of the New River Gorge Bridge! During the three-hour tour, there is plenty of time to snap photos of the spectacular views, as well.  

Take a Drive on West Virginia’s Oldest Byway

Ride along the Midland Trail National Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 60) and discover amazing autumn landscapes. Combine the vibrant foliage with rushing waterfalls, wondrous overlooks and local attractions, and you’ve got the ultimate family road trip! This route is West Virginia’s oldest scenic byway and spans more than 180 miles across the state. Starting near Gauley Bridge and Glen Ferris, pass by two breathtaking waterfalls — Cathedral Falls and Kanawha Falls. From there, continue over the mountain to Hawks Nest State Park, a 270-acre park known for its scenic overlook, aerial tramway (open seasonally through October), hiking trails, jet boat rides and more! Finish your drive with a stop at Babcock State Park, home to the iconic Glade Creek Grist Mill. 

Take to the Trails

Hiking is one of the most popular ways to take in the autumn scenery. With over 100 miles of trails winding through the area, there’s a route for every kind of explorer. Set out on an easy walk through rich forest on the Burnwood Trail, marvel at the iconic New River Gorge Bridge from Long Point Trail or explore abandoned mine sites on the strenuous Kaymoor Miners Trail. Regardless of which trail you choose, you are sure to find some of the best leaf-peeping views in the state. 

Then Head to the Sky

Experience fall from the sky! Catch a bird’s-eye view of the New River Gorge in a fully restored World War II Stearman biplane! Wild Blue Adventure Company offers daily biplane rides through the Gorge with glimpses of Beauty Mountain, Endless Wall and Hawks Nest State Park. If you are feeling extra adventurous, the pilot can add aerobatics into your biplane ride, too!

Extend Your Trip

Make your autumn getaway last a little longer with an overnight stay at one of our local accommodations. Whether you want to cozy up in a wooded cabin, camp under the stars or stay close to all the activities at a hotel, we’ve got a place for you. 

How many activities can you cross off your New River Gorge bucket list this fall?