Seneca Rocks, a West Virginia natural wonder

By Lynn R. Mitchell

18The sheer cliffs of Seneca Rocks, with a peak accessible only by trained rock climbers, is located in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest at the intersection of Rt. 33 and Rt. 55. It was used by the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division in 1943 and 1944 as troops trained to scale Italy’s Apennines Mountains during World War II’s Italian Campaign. Photos do not begin to do justice to this unusual natural landmark that rises straight out of the surrounding forest.

19Some have compared this view of Seneca Rocks to a sleeping Indian. Can you see it?

20The USDA website described Seneca Rocks: “Purchased by the federal government in 1969, Seneca Rocks is one of the best-known landmarks in West Virginia.  These rocks have long been noted as a scenic attraction and are popular with rock climbers. The rocks are a magnificent formation rising nearly 900 feet above the North Fork River. Eastern West Virginia contains many such formations of the white/gray Tuscarora quartzite. Seneca Rocks and nearby Champe Rocks are among the most imposing examples. The quartzite is approximately 250 feet thick and is located primarily on exposed ridges as caprock or exposed crags. The rock is composed of fine grains of sand that were laid down approximately 440 million years ago, in an extensive sheet at the edge of ancient ocean. Years of geologic activity followed, as the ocean was slowly destroyed and the underlying rock uplifted and folded. Millions of years of erosion stripped away the overlaying rock and left remnants of the arching folds in formations such as Seneca Rocks.”

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
July 22, 2015

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