This article was produced in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Tourism
During any given season—and definitely in the fall—there’s a long list of reasons why West Virginia has been nicknamed “Almost Heaven” by all fans of the greater outdoors, from casual leaf peepers and luxury travelers to thrill-seeking, roughing-it types.
Lush technicolor forests. Magnificent mountains. Raging rivers. Gorgeous gorges. Luxury retreats worthy of presidents and royals. What’s not to love here?
The Mountain State’s latest news is its biggest headline ever for nature lovers: Last December, West Virginia’s New River Gorge officially became America’s 63rd designated national park—and the first one in the state’s history. Not long after this nearly 73,000-acre Appalachian wonderland was re-titled New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Time tapped it as one of the “World’s Greatest Places of 2021.”
Running for over 50 churning miles through the heart of it all is the curiously named New River—which is anything but. Over the millennia, this overachieving waterway (one of the world’s oldest) has carved the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachian Mountains, creating a spectacular hub of natural wonders and thrilling outdoor pursuits along the way.
The park naturally draws sightseers year-round, but it hits an obvious peak in the fall when those verdant canopies go all crimson, cinnamon, and gold. From epic river runs and land-based adventures to the simple joys of foliage ogling during an autumn-intensive road trip, there are countless reasons to add America’s newest national park to your Almost Heaven bucket list this season.
Need some quick direction? Here’s a timely travel guide, shortlisting the best fall experiences, must-sees, lodging picks, and more in and around New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. For more trip-planning info, order a free print or digital vacation guide.