West Virginia Has Amazing Fall Foliage — Here Are the Best Places to See It

Where and when to go see the changing fall foliage in West Virginia.

Plum Orchard Lake in the fall
Photo: Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

When it comes to fall foliage, few places can rival West Virginia.

Thanks to the state's plentiful outdoor spaces, mountainous regions, and perfect fall weather conditions, West Virginia is a place where the fall colors just feel a bit more vibrant than anywhere else.

Want to see the kaleidoscope of burnt orange, crisp red, and bright yellow hues that blanket the state in the fall? Here are eight destinations throughout West Virginia that all leaf peepers need to add to their autumnal travel itinerary, plus information on when to head that way for the best fall foliage views.

Coopers Rock

A bridge in Coopers Rock State Forest
Courtesy of West Virginia Department of Commerce

Coopers Rock State Forest is already well-known for having some of the best views around thanks to its high-elevation canyon overlooks. Come to explore the entire park and its 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as spaces for rock climbing, picnicking, and everything in between. For the best fall views, sit by the lake to see the colors reflected in the water, or head up to one of the canyon overlooks to gaze out at a sea of color.

Blackwater Falls

Blackwater Falls in the fall
Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

Blackwater Falls State Park, nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, has more than enough natural beauty to go around. Yes, it's home to a 57-foot waterfall flowing with amber-colored water, but it's also the absolute best place to be in the fall for a leaf show. The area has plentiful viewing platforms where visitors can stand in awe of the changing foliage day after day until they disappear in winter. Visitors can even take their viewing on the move thanks to 20 miles of hiking trails surrounding the falls.

Plum Orchard Lake

Plum Orchard Lake in the fall
Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

The Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Area is home to some hundreds of acres of fall foliage-ready landscapes just begging for you to visit. As a prime fishing destination, it's ideal for lakeside viewing. Or better yet, snag a boat and take to the water to feel like you're ensconced in fall colors. For photographers, the lake's many docks create a perfect composition.

Highland Scenic Highway

Autum View of the Highland Scenic Highway Pocahontas County West Virginia
Stephen J. Shaluta/Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism

The Highland Scenic Highway is so gorgeous it was granted the distinction of a National Scenic Byway. For 43 miles, travelers can drive through one stunning scene after the next, seemingly watching the leaves change color in real-time. Slow down for a bit and take in more of the view at one of the highway's four scenic overlooks that provide a glimpse of the mountains and valleys. And, with spots hitting 4,500 feet in elevation, it's a highway with vistas heads above the rest.

Pipestem Resort State Park

Aerial view of Pipestem Resort State Park
Courtesy of West Virginia Department of Commerce

For families, there's no better fall destination than Pipestem Resort State Park. Located on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge, the park is home to more than 4,000 acres of land, all of which come to life in a fall blaze of glory during peak foliage times. At the park, families can head out on a zip line trip, go trout fishing, hit the mountain biking and hiking trails, and so much more. For the ultimate fall view, head to the aerial tramway to see the stunning landscape from above.

Seneca Rocks

View Of The Seneca Rocks and Beautiful Autumn Colors

WilliamSherman/Getty Images

This popular rock climbing spot is also known for its sweeping views. There’s a steep but doable 1.3-mile hiking trail with steps and switchbacks that gains over 700 feet in elevation. The titular formation reaches about 900 feet and includes an observation platform that looks over the North Fork river valley, where hikers can catch sight of bald eagles and fall foliage at once.

Dolly Sods Wilderness 

Allegheny Valley Overlook from Dolly Sods

Dennis Govoni/Getty Images

Located in the Monongahela National Forest, Dolly Sods is one of the best places to go for those high-elevation, cinematic views of the burnt orange and bright red hues that cover West Virginia come fall. With 47 miles of trails running along old railroad grades and logging roads, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventure within Dolly Sods Wilderness’ 17,371 acres. Once you’ve climbed the 2,500 to 4,700 feet in elevation gains, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous vistas of the area’s unusual plant species and vibrant fall colors.  

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Sunset at Harpers Ferry view from Maryland Heights

Ali Majdfar/Getty Images

One of the most well-known places in the U.S. for fall foliage, this park actually consists of about 3,500 acres across three states: West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. The 22 miles of hiking trails provide a front-row seat to the awe-inspiring autumnal mise-en-scène. Head to the town of Harpers Ferry, at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, in West Virginia to access the park’s trails as well as historic landmarks and a downtown district with plenty of southern charm.

When to Visit West Virginia for Fall Foliage

According to the West Virginia Division of Forestry, the prime time for fall foliage viewing is between late September through late October, with times varying based on where you plan to visit. Temperatures, rainfall, and elevation can all play a factor in fall foliage, so it may be a good idea to book an extended stay to ensure you're there when the leaves hit their peak. Check out the Division of Forestry's website to learn more about which trees will change color this year and exactly what you can expect.

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