Have you been whitewater rafting in West Virginia?
More than 100,000 people a year visit this area, seeking adventure to soothe their inner-adrenalin junkie or as a release from the daily grind.
As wild and chaotic as many sections of New River and Gauley River are, the place where they come together is much more comparable to a lake.
The New and the Gauley combine waters at Gauley Bridge to form the Kanawha River, and from here to the Ohio River the Kanawha is mostly flat, calm water.
Except, that is, about 1.2 miles below the confluence of these streams. Here the river drops more than 15 feet in one plunge. It’s an amazing display of water and bedrock. This is Kanawha Falls.
Location and Size
Perched right beside US route 60, which is now designated as a National Scenic Byway, this spectacle of nature is one of the easiest and most accessible pieces of scenic beauty in the area. With the advent of WV’s interstate system, many travelers to the Fayetteville area forgo the road less traveled and miss this and other areas of interest along route 60. But for those who take the time to travel the scenic route, this behemoth of a “waterfall” is a worthwhile reward. And depending on the amount of water going over it, the view may be very different each time.
Spanning the Kanawha River at well over 600 feet wide, this falls is accessible from both sides of the river and because of its size, the view you get from either side is very different. It is so large it is very hard to get the whole thing into a picture. But taking in its immense size and soothing resonance is a pleasure that you won’t soon forget.
Like to Fish?
This area is renowned by anglers for its incredible fishing opportunities; as such a large physical barrier prevents fish from going any further upstream. With a great variety of fish here there is no telling what may be on the end of your line as you reel it in.
There is plenty of history associated with this area also, from the multiple Indian tribes that used the Kanawha’s waterways to the first settlers that braved this rugged terrain, this area has seen its share of action. George Washington was responsible for the clearing of the Midland Trail for use as a travel way and a Civil War Union Army Camp known as Camp Reynolds was located across the river from what is now the Glen Ferris Inn .
The first white settler to this area was Reuben Van Bibbers, who was reported to have leapt from a rock on the south bank into the river to escape a group of angry Indians. Thank goodness his wife was good with a canoe as the area below the falls contains some strong current.
So whether you are a West Virginian who’s never been there or a visitor looking for a way to spend an afternoon, the Kanawha Falls areas is definitely one that shouldn’t be missed.