You won’t have to look hard to find amazing views of the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains in West Virginia; it is the Mountain State, after all. Just driving on highways that criss-cross the state, such as I-77, I-79, and I-64, provides broad landscape views, and when you get off the main roads, the vistas are even better. Here are nine places where you’ll find the most spectacular mountain views in the state.
At the juncture of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle is the historic town of Harpers Ferry. Known for John Brown’s raid and action during the Civil War, the surrounding town is a perfect place to take in views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cross over the Potomac River to Maryland, and you’ll get great river scenery biking along the C&O Canal Path. Or hike up to Maryland Heights for a spectacular view of where the rivers meet and Harpers Ferry.
Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia and a perfect place to look out over the vast Monongahela National Forest. You can drive all the way up to the lookout tower, which is faster than hiking, but it is a long, winding road up. Going in the fall when the forest erupts in reds, oranges, and yellows makes for a truly spectacular view.
Seneca Rocks is very close to Spruce Knob, and even the Visitor Center is a great place to look up at the unusual rock formation. This area is one of the highlights of the Monongahela National Forest, and you can either hike your way to the top and look out over the mountains still on the eastern side of the Continental Divide or check out one of the local climbing schools and rock climb your way to the top.
Just south of Elkins, West Virginia, in the town of Beverly, you’ll find Rich Mountain. The site of a Civil War battle, the mountain gives context to the role that the Allegheny Mountains played in the early days of the Civil War. The town is also home to the Beverly Heritage Center, where you can learn more about the frontier life in the then-state of Virginia and the Staunton-Parkersburg turnpike that connected the Shenandoah Valley with Ohio.
At Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, you can ride a historic, restored steam engine up into the mountains. The surrounding mountains were once clear-cut by loggers, providing fuel and building material for the Industrial Revolution in the early 1900s. The train winds its way to the state’s third-highest peak, Bald Knob, and along the way, you’ll get to have scenic views of the Greenbrier River Valley.
While Canaan Valley is a valley, the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge has great views of the mountains that surround the very high-elevation valley. The refuge has over 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and borders the Monongahela National Forest, which also offers beautiful panoramas from the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park commemorates the Civil War battle fought on the mountain. The park has a history museum, as well as hiking trails, but one of the highlights of the park is the viewing tower (accessible by car), where you can look out over the Allegheny Mountains.
The Canyon Rim Visitor Center is a part of the New River Gorge National River Area, both of which offer some of the best views in southern West Virginia. The New River Gorge Bridge might be the most photographed landscape in the state, and the Visitor Center offers great scenes of the bridge and canyon. You can also hike the trails along either side of the gorge for great photo opportunities. There are also lots of outfitters who will take you white-water rafting down the river for an even more unique experience to view this amazing natural feature.