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The Sandstone Falls area of the New River Gorge national River encompasses the upper
ten miles of the park. This area is a transition zone from a broad valley to a deep, narrow,
boulder strewn, V-shaped gorge. Most visitors will find the best starting
point for their journey to Sandstone Falls at the Sandstone Visitor Center. The Visitor
Center has excellent exhibits on the New River watershed, water resources, and natural and
cultural history of the upper New River Gorge. Your journey to view the falls will require
some driving time. It will take you on route 20 south from the I-64 exit at the community
of Sandstone. As you drive high above the river you will pass two park vistas. The sandstone
falls overlook gives you an aerial view of the falls 600 feet above the river. The Brooks
overlook looks down upon the mile long Brooks island, a perennial bald eagle nesting site.
Hinton is the southern gateway to the New River Gorge National River. A once booming
railroad center, the town has a large historic district, railroad museum, antique shops,
and restaurants. After crossing the bridge at Hinton you will
begin driving alongside the New River down river road. There are great riverside vistas,
several river access points, and a trail, picnic area and small boardwalk at the river
wide Brooks falls. At the Sandstone Falls day use area you begin
your walk along the board walk and bridges that span the two islands below the falls.
Start by crossing a short bridge that spans a man made channel that once diverted water
for a water-powered grist mill used for grinding the local farmers corn and wheat.
The first island offers a view of the lower falls, and one of the most unique botanical
ecosystems in West Virginia, the Appalachian riverside flat rock community. This community
is found in only five areas in the state and consists of several southern plant species
that have migrated along the north flowing New River. These species have adapted to the
thin rock strewn soil and occasional scouring floods on this elevated island below the falls.
The second bridge, a mini arch cor-ten steel structure, crosses a wide naturally formed
channel bringing you onto a low-lying island covered with a floodplain forest community
and views of the main falls. Sandstone falls is the largest waterfall along
the 320 mile New River. The falls span the entire 1,500 foot width of the river and drop
from 25 to 10 feet. Sandstone falls was created by the powerful
flow of the New river eroding the soft conglomerate rock layer that lies below the hard sandstone
layer from which the falls gets its name. The falls are a dynamic geological environment,
as slowly but surely through time, they are advancing upstream.
A journey to Sandstone Falls provides a rare riverside scenic drive, beautiful falls, and
the dramatic interface of the New River in its transition from a wide mountain stream
to a raging whitewater river gorge in its final descent through the Appalachian Mountains.
Come explore and enjoy the Sandstone Falls area in New River Gorge National River.