Hawks Nest, a rock formation overlooking the New River Gorge, is one of the most familiar natural landmarks in the Upper Kanawha Valley. John Marshall visited it in 1812 as one of the commissioners the Virginia General Assembly appointed to determine if a connection could be made between the James and Kanawha rivers. For a short time thereafter it was known as Marshall's Pillar. The James River and Kanawha Turnpike passed nearby in the 1820s, and the rock, with its unmatched view of the gorge below, became a popular stopping place.
In 1935 the state of West Virginia purchased the rock and adjoining property for development as a state park. The National Park Service provided initial planning services, and CCC crews constructed the buildings. In the 1960s, as part of a parks expansion program funded by the U.S. Area Redevelopment Administration, the state engaged The Architects Collaborative (TAC) to design a lodge providing overnight accommodations.