The name says it all: Grandview. The breathtaking vista from the main overlook in this section of New River Gorge National Park gives you an eagle’s eye view of a horseshoe bend in the ancient New River. But while the view is indeed grand, there is much more to appreciate about this section of New River Gorge National Park than just the dramatic vista of its main overlook. In this post, we’ll share other reasons why we think this place is so special and should be added to your New River Gorge National Park itinerary.
The Main Overlook at Grandview
The overlook itself is one of the most magnificent views to be found anywhere in America’s national parks. A few years ago, the world-famous cellist, YoYo Ma, stopped by this overlook, cello in hand. He was inspired to play passages from Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring” in this impromptu performance.
The east-facing view makes the main overlook a picture-perfect place to see a spectacular sunrise and early morning visitors are often greeted by a magical mist-filled gorge. From this one vantage point, nearly five miles of the river stretches out before you. In the distance, majestic Appalachian Mountains climb one after another, high into the eastern sky for as far as your eye can see. Trainspotters are regularly thrilled by a freight train passing by; the viewpoint provides a way to see a very long train in its entirety as it passes 1,400 feet below.
Turkey Spur Overlook
Just as beautiful and dramatic as the view from the main overlook is the one that awaits you at Turkey Spur Overlook. A little harder to reach, it takes a journey to the top of a towering rock outcrop aided by a staircase with 130 steps. There are actually three different overlooks at the top of Turkey Spur. One that faces southeast, one that faces southwest, and another that faces north. From the northern facing overlook, you can see Stretcher Neck Mountain, through which the railroad tracks run via the famed Stretcher Neck Tunnel to cut approximately two miles off the train route through the snaking river gorge.
Grandview Visitor’s Center & Main Parking Area
Before this area was acquired by the National Park Service in 1990, Grandview was a West Virginia State Park, and the visitor’s center is a leftover from that era. Inside you will find a few small displays, a gift shop, and helpful rangers. The Grandview Visitor Center is normally open from June through August.
There are several picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms (open all year) nearby. And all around the visitor’s center, you will find interpretive signage that tells the history of the park. Some tell the story of the contribution of the Civilian Conservation Corps when the park was first built in 1939, including the construction of the beautiful stone walkway that leads to the main overlook.
In mid to late May, the area around the visitor’s center is a sight to behold when dense hedges of Catawba rhododendrons boom. The display draws visitors from all over the country to see the thousands of huge pink/purple flowers.
Grandview’s Outdoor Dramas
From June through August, the professional theater company, Theater West Virginia, performs outdoor dramas in a 1,200-seat cliffside amphitheater near the Grandview Visitor’s Center. Their productions present West Virginia’s unique culture through historical dramas. Past productions included “Honey and the Rock” – a play by Kermit Hunter depicting the founding of the Mountain State in 1863. This year’s productions include “Hatfields and McCoys” and “Rocket Boys the Musical.” The full schedule of shows can be found on Theater West Virginia’s website.
Getting to the Grandview Section of the Park
Google Maps is full of confusing info about this section of the park. To chart the correct course use the physical address: 4700 Grandview Road, Beaver, WV 25813. The main overlook is just 5 miles from Interstate 64 (although it feels longer), and only 45 minutes from Lafayette Flats Boutique Vacation Rentals (via US Rt. 19 to I-64, exit 129B). All of the trailheads and overlooks are within a five-minute drive of the visitor’s center. Parking is plentiful at the visitor’s center and at all trailheads.
While the Grandview section of the New River Gorge National Park is heavily used by tourists and locals on the weekends, we’ve found this area to be underused during the week. We visited on a beautiful Friday morning in July and had most of the trails and picnic areas to ourselves, so plan for a weekday visit if possible.
Grandview Hiking Trails
Little Laurel Trail (1)
Challenging due to its 1,300’ elevation loss/gain, this 2.6-mile trail drops from the top of the gorge to Glade Creek Road which runs alongside the New River. The trail follows an old road for the first two miles as it descends, passing by the site of an old coal mine at Royal. In the early spring, the National Park Service uses this trail for its annual “Hike Into Spring” event which shows the amazing effect that elevation has on plant life. The hike begins at the rim where it still looks like winter with bare trees and lack of understory growth, and by the time the river is reached, trees are in leaf and wildflowers are blooming!
Big Buck Trail (2) & Woodland Loop (3)
These two short trails are adjacent to the same parking area (near picnic shelter #2) and when combined make for a nice 1 ½ mile (about 45 minutes) easy walk through a beautiful and serene forest. The Woodland Loop trail is currently being used by NPS biologists to study the effect that whitetail deer have on post-wildfire forest recovery, and you will pass by the “deer exclosure,” a fenced area built for this purpose. Ask a ranger at the visitor’s center if you are interested in finding out more about this study.
Castle Rock Trail (4)
This trail might be a bit strenuous for some folks, but it offers tremendous access to the lower side of the towering sandstone cliffs that line much of the New River Gorge. It begins near the main overlook and ends as it intersects the Grandview Rim Trail. There are some steep, rocky descents early on and a short steep climb at the end, but the trail is fairly level in between. We recommend combining this trail with the Grandview Rim Trail (below) to make an approximately one-mile loop.
Grandview Rim Trail (5)
This easy trail offers many places to glimpse the gorge from different angles over its 1.6-mile path. In July this is also a beautiful trail to view the big white blooms of the great rhododendrons, the WV state flower. The entirety of the trail connects the main overlook with Turkey Spur passing the North Overlook along the way. You can return the way you came or return on the road that runs parallel to the trail.
Grandview Walkways (6)
Designed to connect heavily used areas of the park, this path runs from the Grandview Shelter #1 parking and picnic area to the main parking lot, main overlook, and the amphitheater.
Tunnel Trail (7)
Grandview’s shortest and shadiest trail. The lush vegetation and narrow passages through sandstone rock formations make a stroll along this forest trail a special experience, even on the hottest day. The ½ mile trail passes several natural tunnels in the rock and passes beneath a large rock overhang. The trail begins near the main overlook.
Other Outdoor Attractions Near Grandview
Just 15 minutes from Grandview is the most remote trail in the New River Gorge National Park, and one of our favorites, Poll’s Plateau. This 4.6-mile loop trail meanders around a plateau that sits high above the confluence of Glade Creek and the New River. If you are looking for a trail where you can experience serenity in nature, this is it. On our many visits to this trail, we have never seen another person.
Sandstone Visitors Center
Just 20 minutes from Grandview (off exit 139 of I-64) you’ll find the gateway to the southern portion of the New River Gorge: The Sandstone Visitor Center. This sustainably designed building boasts native plant landscaping, a Monarch Butterfly waystation, and energy conservation elements. Inside you’ll find beautiful, informational, and interactive displays about the New River watershed. Here you can take advantage of the clean restroom facilities and book/gift shop. Please note: Sandstone Visitor Center is open daily from May – December but only on the weekends from January – May.
Little Beaver State Park
With 20 miles of trails and an 18-acre lake, Little Beaver State Park is another fun place to visit and only 7 minutes from Grandview. This West Virginia State Park offers fishing and hiking year-round and lots of great picking spots. You can also rent paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes from the park’s visitors center during the spring, summer, and fall.
Places to Dine Near Grandview
While there are no restaurants within the Grandview section of the park, there are several small locally owned eateries within a 15-minute drive. Here are a few, beginning with the closest.
- The Grandview Diner – basic roadside diner fare and ice cream. Near the I-64 Grandview exit.
- El Mariachi – one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Located in Beaver, just a short hop off I-64.
- The Dish Café – great food in a casual dining atmosphere. The address is 1466 Ritter Dr, Daniels, WV.
- Stop at Grandview Farms Country Store to pick up cheese, chips, preserved meats, fruit, and sweets for a picnic at one of Grandview’s many picnic shelters or tables. You’ll find it on the left side of the road shortly after exiting I-64.
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