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West Virginia: Journey to the past in the Mountain State

Discover why West Virginia is “almost heaven” by taking this century-old auto route. From the 1700s to the Cold War, West Virginia’s history truly is larger than life.

Drive 108.8 miles, 2 hours, 57 minutes


1. Charleston

Starting Point

West Virginia’s capital city has so much to offer. Take a stroll along the downtown area’s brick streets for an amazing assortment of unique shops and eateries. Discover local art studios and emporiums, artisan chocolates, fresh-roasted coffee, just-picked produce and a treasure trove of bookstores. Head along the Midland Trail National Scenic Highway to the east end of town and take a walking tour among the historic homes of Charleston’s oldest neighborhood. Browse local antique shops for something special to take home before catching a show at the Mountain Stage, where musical and dramatic performers captivate audiences.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

2. Gauley Bridge

38.2 miles, 1 hour, 2 minute

At the conflux of two rivers lies Gauley Bridge, a quaint town named for the toll bridge that once crossed the Gauley River. Nearby is Cathedral State Park, one of the few remaining ancient hemlock forests in the country, with trees that tower up to 90 feet tall, many of which exceed 20 feet in circumference. Cathedral Falls, one of the highest and most scenic waterfalls in West Virginia, is located along Route 60, providing a dramatic atmosphere and stunning photo opportunities with its steep, rushing waters cascading down into the rocky gorge below. There are over a dozen waterfalls along this five-mile stretch of scenic highway.


3. New River Gorge Bridge

15.1 miles, 26 minutes

The gorgeous views alone will thrill you on the Midland Trail Scenic Highway, but the New River Gorge Bridge will leave you marveling at this iconic “Grand Canyon of the East.” The bridge puts you high above it all and offers the most splendid vistas for miles from the world’s longest span bridge; each October, the bridge is closed to vehicles and opened for pedestrians and base jumpers to enjoy. Don’t miss a chance to see what lies beneath, and take awe-inspiring photos shooting up at the bridge.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Lewisburg

55.5 miles, 1 hour, 29 minutes

Lewisburg has been a sought-after location for 250 years. Drawn by the curative powers of the local sulfur springs, the scenic area eventually became home to several luxury resorts. Explore the mysteries of the once top-secret Cold War Congressional Bunker, located under the Greenbrier luxury resort in nearby Sulphur Springs. This subterranean complex was designed to house the government’s legislative branch in the event of nuclear war. Descend more than 100 feet into the Lost World Caverns to gape at the Snowy Chandelier, the largest stalactite in the U.S. If you’re ready for adventure, sign up for the Wild Cave Tour, where you’ll crawl and climb into the deepest and darkest depths of an otherworldly underground chamber. Get ready for great professional acting at the Green Valley Theatre, where music, live performances and literary events provide quality entertainment for all.