Waterfalls are both invigorating and meditative. The vigorous rush of a fall’s cascading water is met by the spellbinding trance it casts upon its captivated onlookers. While Yosemite and Niagara Falls draw millions of visitors annually, there are thousands of lesser-known waterfalls that never cease to take our breath away.
The wild and wonderful waterfalls of West Virginia snag the top spot on our list. Also known as the “Mountain State”, West Virginia is home to some of the nation’s most magnificent waterfalls. Kevin Adams, author of Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia, estimates West Virginia is home to more than 275 waterfalls.
So, with hundreds of waterfalls to see, where should you start? We’ve compiled our list of West Virginia’s Most Breathtaking Waterfalls:
Blackwater Falls, whose amber-colored waters plunge five stories before descending upon an eight-mile long gorge, was named after the Blackwater River. The “black” water is actually a result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Located in Tucker County, West Virginia, the falls are visible year-round and can be most easily viewed atop the steps of designated observation platforms nearby.
Referred to affectionately as “the New River Gorge’s best kept secret”, Cathedral Falls does not disappoint. Cathedral Falls is located just off of US Rt. 60, roughly one mile east of the town of Gauley Bridge. Tucked among rock and trees, Cathedral Falls is one of West Virginia’s highest and most scenic waterfalls. It descends more than 60 feet before tumbling into a natural amphitheater below. Bring your camera! Cathedral Falls is also one of the most photographed sights in the state of West Virginia.
The Elakala Falls are a series of four waterfalls of Shays Run. Located within Blackwater Falls State Park, the Falls make up some of the state’s most majestic waterfalls. Rumor has it that the falls were named after Native American princess Elakala, who threw herself over the edge of the first waterfall when her lover scorned her. While we can’t confirm the authenticity of this legend, we can affirm that Elakala Falls are absolutely breathtaking.
It’s hard to believe it’s not a Disney Movie. Located within Pocahontas County, The Falls of Hills Creek is the glittering jewel in the crown of the Monongahela National Forest. This popular 114 -acre area contains three waterfalls – 25 feet, 45 feet, and 63 feet. The lower falls, measuring 63 feet, is the second highest waterfall in the state of West Virginia. Want a better view? Two viewing decks provide easy access for waterfall lovers of all ages and abilities.
There’s something undoubtedly magical about waterfalls. Whether they’re sitting motionless in valleys or gushing over mountains, the waterfalls of West Virginia are nothing short of spectacular.
Have you had an opportunity to see the waterfalls yourself? We’d love to hear from you! Share your stories in the comments below!