Fayette Station Road Tour – New River Gorge National Park & Preserve
What a great road tour! We started off early with a visit to the local donut shop for breakfast on the go and coffee to boot. I’d highly recommend starting early as there is very little traffic and most of the parking spots along the way are open, allowing you to explore all of the side trips and trails uninhibited.
Road Tour Info:
A tour down the historic road used to connect Fayette to South Fayette in the era of coal mining. The tour is 8 miles and takes about 45 minutes, but could easily take much longer when stopping at the many pull-offs and exhibits along the way. The tour winds down into the gorge across an old one-lane bridge, past a parking lot near the river, then back up the other side of the gorge ending along Route 19 on the opposite side of the gorge from the visitors center.
This road is NOT suitable for RVs and vehicles with trailers. Also, anyone with a low-riding kit car should find an alternative mode of transport, but my Toyota Camry had no trouble.
Fees: No fees to park or visit.
Directions on PCs: Locate the Google map below the search box on the right-hand side of this webpage. Click “Get Directions” on the map pin details.
Directions on Tablets and Mobile Phones: Locate the Google map near the bottom of this page, just below the search box. Click “Get Directions” on the map pin details.
What a great road tour! We started off early with a visit to the local donut shop for breakfast on the go and coffee to boot. I’d highly recommend starting early as there is very little traffic and most of the parking spots along the way are open, allowing you to explore all of the side trips and trails uninhibited. The first item of note along the tour was a fox that must have known we had extra donuts in the car. He seemed rather curious about us as we slowly drove by, peeking up a few times to see if we had moved on yet.
Above is a tour map that we found at the visitors center after we figured it out with lots of googling on our own. There are also printed maps available at the visitors center when the building is open between 9 AM – 5 PM.
The tour didn’t take long at all to impress with steep walls flowing down the gorge and massive rocks that got in the way of the original road. Most of the time the road would meander around the rocks, but occasionally the builders found the need to blast their way through, leaving cliffs on one side of the road and large rocks on the other.
The road is a single lane, with many areas to park or pull off and look around. One of the first larger parking lots was located directly under the bridge, offering jaw-dropping views from under the bridge. The men and women who built this monster in 1977 must have had some serious courage, as I couldn’t imagine walking across the top, never mind placing any of the steel below. It was unnerving enough to drive over the deck when you can’t even see over the edge.
I found it odd that instead of the graffiti that I often see along trails and in parks, this area had lots of stickers, a theme that continued along the tour.
Just before the one-lane bridge, you will find the reason why campers, RVs, and low-riders should avoid the road tour. A few marks in the pavement suggest that lots of folks found out the hard way about the limitations this segment of the road imposes.
At the base of the gorge, you will cross the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge. There is a spot to pull over and park just before the bridge, and I recommend you do so if the space is open. We walked out onto the bridge and had a look at the valley.
There was some confusion about which way we should go when we saw side roads a few times. Basically, all roads lead to either a parking lot or the continuation of the road tour. In the photo above I recommend you cross the narrow bridge on the right, stop, park your car and have a look around. The parking lot is about as close as you can drive to being directly under the bridge and still be able to park and walk to the river’s edge. Use caution with the water, there are some pretty big rapids downstream
When I was walking to the water’s edge I noticed this fossilized tree segment. It was far too large to take as a souvenir, so I took a photo instead.
The rapids under the bridge were fairly gentle as rapids on the New River can get as high as class 4.
The bridge is approximately 876 feet tall from the base of the river. The photo above isn’t stretched, I’m just that lanky.
After leaving the parking area and continuing the tour we found another pull-off with some very cool water and rock features.
On the southwest side of the gorge on our way back up the other side, I could hear what sounded like a waterfall, and we saw two parking spots so we got out and had a look. The Kaymoor trailhead was not on our agenda as we were pretty tired from walking around in the Smokey Mountains National Park all week, but we agreed to have a look, and walk no more than 1/4 mile, with a stern vote from all parties not to walk on any trails that weren’t flat, and limit walking at all costs, hence the reason for the road tour!
Not long after starting the trail till we saw a bridge, and a small stream running underneath.
Over the bridge we discovered exactly what we agreed we would avoid: trails with any slope whatsoever. We could see the waterfall, and it was just so close, so away we walked.
The slope wasn’t that steep and we were propelled by the promise of finding a beautiful waterfall, and getting a cool shot for social media.
In all honestly, the walk wasn’t that far at all, maybe 1/4 mile, maybe less, and totally worth it.
The water flow down the hill was gentle enough to leave moss on the rocks, with some water seeming to flow through and trickle off rocks on the other side.
The water was terribly cold, and a thin mist and occasional splatter wiped away the heat stroke we felt like we were enduring. The chilled air was also refreshing, but we had had enough walking and decided to turn around and continue on the road tour.
As we walked back to the Kaymoor trailhead and over the bridge, I noticed just how cool the rocks looked. A family just before us took a photo of their son standing upon the rock in the foreground, and when they cleared out, I grabbed this shot.
On the final pass of four under the bridge, I nabbed this shot. From this point, it’s apparent just how massive the arch supports are, and how high into the air they fly.