Living in one of the most beautiful states when it comes to landscapes can be a photographers dream. Here are my top 10 locations that every photographer must visit.
1. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. The park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
2. Coopers Rock
Established in 1936, Coopers Rock State Forest boasts some of the most iconic views in Almost Heaven. Located just off I-68, about 13 miles from Morgantown, the park features canyon overlooks, historical sites, picnic shelters, 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, sandstone cliffs for climbing and bouldering, cross-country ski terrain, a lake perfect for reeling in trout and a nearby river for rafting.
3. Summersville Lake
Summersville Lake is a reservoir located in the US state of West Virginia. The lake is formed by a rock-fill dam on the Gauley River, south of Summersville in Nicholas County. It is the largest lake in West Virginia, with 2,700 acres of water and over 60 miles of shoreline at the summer pool water level.
4. Seneca Rocks
Seneca Rocks is an unincorporated community located in Pendleton County, West Virginia, United States. The community of Seneca Rocks — formerly known as Mouth of Seneca — lies at the junction of US 33, WV 28 and WV 55 near the confluence of Seneca Creek and the North Fork South Branch Potomac River.
5. Grist Mill, Babcock State Park
You’ve seen it pictured on calendars, mugs and coffee table books. It’s the Glade Creek Grist Mill — one of the most photographed images in the world.
Set on a boulder-strewn mountain stream at Babcock State Park, the weather-beaten mill offers a picturesque setting all four seasons for wedding photos and other memorable vacation shots.
But there’s more to this beautiful old structure than just Instagram-worthy material. It’s also a real working mill. During operating hours, visitors can tour the mill and learn about the process that grinds corn into cornmeal.
6. Dolly Sods
The 17,371 acre Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. It is located in Grant, Randolph, and Tucker Counties, West Virginia. The Dolly Sods Wilderness contains much of the Red Creek drainage and contains bog and heath eco-types, more commonly typical to southern Canada. Elevations range from 2,500 to over 4,700 feet. For more information, see Dolly Sods Wilderness Brochure, Trail Map, and Expansion Map.
Practice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics: do not build a camp within 200 feet of roads, streams and trails. Dolly Sods Wilderness has 47 miles of trails, many of which follow old railroad grades and logging roads. There are fords on some of the trails that may be a problem to cross during high water events. There may be additional small stream crossings as well.
7. Blackwater Falls
Located in the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County, Blackwater Falls State Park is named for the amber waters of Blackwater Falls, a 57-foot cascade tinted by the tannic acid of fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. The falls, along with a few of the park’s other features like Elakala Falls, Lindy Point and Pendleton Point Overlook, are some of the state’s most photographed spots. Visitors can enjoy the scenic views year-round by taking the steps to the falls or using viewing platforms. The park has 20 miles of hiking trails, the longest sledding magic carpet on the East Coast in the winter, a comfortable lodge and more.
8. Beartown State Park
Beartown State Park is a 110-acre natural area located on the eastern summit of Droop Mountain in northern Greenbrier County and a small portion of Pocahontas County. Beartown is known for its unusual rocky formations, massive boulders, overhanging cliffs and deep crevices. The park’s main attraction is a half-mile boardwalk, which showcases these spectacular sights. Beartown State Park is open April through October.
9. Calhoun County Park
Calhoun County Park is a beautiful, quiet area with a number of features for public enjoyment. Throughout the park one can find playgrounds, a ball field, volleyball and basketball courts, ponds, and a well maintained hiking/bicycling trail. The park has a large community building, campsites, and shelters available for rent for indoor/outdoor occasions.
Due to the location, Calhoun County Park is labeled a “Dark Sky” area, providing wonderful views for stargazers. Photographers enjoy not only the night sky but also the scenic and rustic beauty found within the park. Whether hiking, fishing, geocaching, or going on an outing, Calhoun County Park is an wonderful location to spend time in the outdoors with family and friends!
10. Palace of Gold
Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold was called by the New York Times “America’s Taj Mahal,” CNN rated it in July 2012 as “one of the eight religious wonders to see in the USA” and declared: “A name like ‘Palace of Gold’ comes with high expectations, and this West Virginia shrine doesn’t disappoint.” Also, do not forget to experience the best vegetarian restaurant in the Upper Ohio Valley!
Where are some of your favorite places in WV to photograph?