As an avid outdoorsman in West Virginia, I relish in every opportunity photograph its natural beauty. To keep me outdoors I hike on a daily basis with my dog Bear, a rescued Blue Heeler. We frequently hike the trails in the newly redesignated New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, which I have easy access to living in the vibrant gateway town of Fayetteville.
Living in West Virginia’s “Coolest Small Town” gives me the opportunity to explore and find areas in the Gorge to capture nature at it’s best, and to satisfy my passion for photography. Whether you live in the area or you’re here visiting, use these five suggestions for epic photo opportunities in the New River Gorge. Grab your camera. I hope to see you out there!
Without a doubt, Grandview is the best location to capture a sunrise over the New River Gorge. The famed vista is located in Grandview, Raleigh County, and is part of the new national park. Grandview was once part of the West Virginia state park system and was incorporated by the National Park Service (NPS) into the previously managed New River Gorge National River.
CANYON RIM VISITOR’S VENTER
For close-ups of the New River Gorge Bridge, the Canyon Rim Visitor’s Center has easy access which is located just off Route 19, north of the world-famous New River Gorge Bridge. This is also a prime (and competitively coveted) spot from which to watch BASE jumpers dive into the void on the annual Bridge Day celebration.
FAYETTE STATION ROAD
From the Canyon Rim Visitor’s Center, take an exciting drive down (and back up) Fayette Station Road down into the depths of the thousand-foot-deep gorge. Several areas along the curvy scenic drive allow you opportunities to photograph the Bridge. A walk out onto the Tunny Hunsaker Bridge is a great spot for an unobstructed view of the NRG Bridge’s full span. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the rafting buses that utilize this narrow road!
LONG POINT TRAIL
A trip to the New River Gorge National Park isn’t complete without a trek out to the Long Point overlook. The narrow rocky promontary extends out into gorge, making it feel as if you’re floating in the clouds. Long Point Trail is a 1.6-mile hike one way provides a scenic vista of the Gorge with the Bridge in the background. The trailhead is located off of Salem Gatewood Road by the Arrowhead Bike Farm.
For breathtaking sunsets, Beauty Mountain is the place to be. Beauty Mountain, also cherished by rock climbers for its unobstructed cliffs, can be accessed from the Lansing/Edmond Road, which is just North of the Canyon Rim Visitor’s Center on Route 19. Very little hiking is required to earn this world-class view that also lies within park boundaries.
Although these five well-trodden vistas top the list of the best New River Gorge photo ops, there are seemingly endless locales within the boundaries of the 65,000-acre national park. From close-up shots of waterfalls and the region’s stunning flora and fauna to the big landscape views pictured above, any photographer is likely to discover a lifetime’s worth of photo ops from the rim to the river in the New River Gorge.
Melvin Hartley is a West Virginia-based photographer whose work has appeared in the Tamarack arts center. When he’s not shooting photos, he’s out hiking and fishing around the Mountain State.