There's more to Sanstone than a river wide drop. There are a lot of creeks that empty into the river on the way to Sandstone, and I'll be adding them here as time goes by, because they are mostly seasonal, even if they are beautiful, but for now, let's just start out at the Sandstone Visitors Center. I found this place to be singularly unique and the people working there were outstanding to speak with. If you don't go for any other reason, just stop in to check out the floor. Yes, I said the floor. The entire floor is a map of the New River, which, believe it or not, starts in one of my other favorite places, Boone, North Carolina. Yes, it's one of the few rivers that flow, south to north. The floor is worth the stop, just to see how the craftsmen inlaid brass, terrazo, and tile to cover the entire floor of the visitors center with this map. Pretty cool. Anyway, I figure you might need a restroom or a brochure.
So, stop in, see the floor, use the rest room and speak to Mark Bollinger and Richard Atelier. Two very knowledgeable guys who will tell you all you need to know about the area. There's history, geology, and water to know about here. Stop in and say hi.
Before you head on down to Sanstone Falls, I want you to take a short side trip over to Claypool Falls. This place is very nice. There's a lot to shoot here. Just be cool how you park and try not to trespass, as it's not public/federal land. You'll see the falls on the way up, turn around, find a place to park and then do your thing. Lovely spot.
Once at Sandstone, make sure you go all the way out on the board walk. Once at the end, you can start rockhopping out to the falls. There is no trail and there are many routes to get all the way out. If the water is high, you will get at bit wet. If it's really high, well, use your own judgement. We don't want anyone hurt, but being out on the rocks in front of the falls is very cool, and a great place to shoot.
I would figure on spending a good part of the day here.
On your way out, go back the way you came in, or, if you want to take the road less traveled, hang a right, go a short ways (1/4 mile), and turn left on CR 26, Irish Mountain Road. There is an old Catholic Church about a third the way on this route. It's open. You can go in and photo.
- The Little Catholic Church on Irish Mountain - Saint Colman’s Roman Catholic Church and Cemetery rests atop Sullivan’s Knob on Irish Mountain in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Also called the “Little Catholic Church on Irish Mountain,” this was the first Roman Catholic Church in Raleigh County. Its building began in 1877, was completed in 1878, and the church and cemetery still stand on Irish Mountain today. St. Colman’s Church and Cemetery is an important historical landmark for Raleigh County, existing as a reminder of the prominent Irish immigrant community that settled on Irish Mountain.
Anyway, it's your typical, winding W.V. dirt road. A couple rough spots, but you can take the family car up here. It will dump you out on Cr 27. Take a right and very shortly, you will be at I-64. Jump on westbound toward Beckley and before long (Exit 129), you will be at Grandview. Get off, drive north (turn right) and go on up to Grandview and have a look at the overlook and maybe hike if you have time.
You might also wish to see some more falls, and if that's the case, then head back to Hinton and then south on WV 20. Follow it 11 miles to Pipestem Park. It's a roadside spot with two waterfalls. No hiking involved, but you will have to do a little bit of rock climbing and scrambling to get GOOD photos.