West Virginia is blessed with vast national parks and forests that are home to countless deciduous trees. When fall comes, the state turns into a fairyland of yellows, oranges, and reds. These rich landscapes make for beautiful vistas. The peak season usually occurs between late September and late October, arriving first to the higher elevations up in mountains and then gradually descending to lower elevations. The prime time here is usually the second week of October.
As the third most forested state, West Virginia’s hallowed country roads are a sight to behold in the fall. The reds, oranges and golds of autumn are beginning to make their appearance in the New River Gorge, Gauley Canyon and along the Dries section of the New River.
Temperature, sunlight and soil moisture during the trees’ growing season in the spring and summer all play a role in how the leaves will look in the fall. Last year the drought really effected the colors and caused the leaves to drop early. 2020 weather has blessed us with what should be one of the most spectacular fall watercolor kaleidoscope in many years.
Certain species of trees produce certain colors. Oaks generally turn red, brown or russet; hickories become golden bronze; aspen and yellow-poplar turn golden. Maples differ by species. Red maple turns scarlet; sugar maple, orange-red; and black maple, yellow. Leaves of some trees, such as elms, simply become brown.
Next weekend in the New River Gorge region will be the most spectacular color the fall leaves will bring. The weather looks perfect for scenic tours, whitewater rafting, zipping through the trees, or hiking along the trails to take in all the beauty.
With day time highs in the 60’s, the Dries Whitewater Rafting trip on Sunday and Monday for the next few weekends will be a once in a lifetime fall foliage tour to remember. The Dries is one of the most scenic sections of the New River that has never been comercially rafted. This is truly a Bucket List worthy trip.
The Lower Gauley will also bring a chance to take in the Gauley Canyon in all her glory. Make sure you grab a wet suit to enjoy all the trip has to offer. You can raft the Lower New in any season, but there is nothing quite like rafting through the canyon in Autumn. While the whitewater is as exciting as ever, you also have time to drift through calm pools and enjoy your surroundings. However, if you are looking for an adrenaline rush of a lifetime, the Upper Gauley trip is for you. You will be certain to have the adrenaline rush of a lifetime plus the spendor of the fall colors in the canyon. No matter which river trip you decide on when your photos and videos are captured at the day’s biggest rapids, you’ll get to revisit them again and again.
As fall sets in, the TreeTops Zipline Canopy Tour is set ablaze with color. You can let the flame-colored leaves nearly brush your face as you zip by, and admire the colors as you fly across the creek and above the colorful trees. To get a wide-open view overlooking West Virginia’s vibrant fall colors, head to the Gravity Ziplines course. There, you will soar (at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour) above rolling hills that spread the vibrant hues as far as the eye can see.
Fall is well known as the best season for climbing in the New River Gorge—and not just because of the fall colors. The cool, crisp air allows climbers to enjoy routes that would leave them sweatsoaked if they were attempted during the region’s humid summers. Plus, the world-renown climbing destinations are surrounded by vibrant colors, putting a colorful spin on iconic climbing photos you can’t get in any other season.
Sometimes simplicity is just what you are looking for, and when it comes to taking in the fall colors of the New River Gorge, it’s hard to beat a traditional hike to one of the canyon’s stunning overlooks. For views of the New River Gorge Bridge set against the vibrant backdrop of fall colors, try the Long Point Trail. Not only do you get one of the best views in the region, but the nearly 3-mile hike through the woods gives you a chance to take in the colors up close as well. Alternatively, choose the Endless Wall Trail for stunning cliff-top views overlooking the colors of the Gorge.