Where to find and photograph these 10 WV icons
Here are some of the most photographed icons in the Mountain State, and where you can best capture a beautiful image of your own:
1. Harpers Ferry
At the tip of the Eastern Panhandle where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, you can capture the famous panoramic view of Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights, the highest mountain overlooking the historic town.
To reach the trail from Harpers Ferry, cross the footbridge over the Potomac River, then turn left (upstream) on the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath. Follow the towpath 0.3 miles to where it crosses a footbridge over the canal bed to Harpers Ferry Road. You’ll find the trailhead directly across the road. The 5-mile-long trail is steep and rocky in some places.
2. New River Gorge Bridge
In the southern West Virginia, the 1.6-mile Long Point Trail boasts panoramic views of the gorge and the iconic New River Gorge Bridge. The hike is moderate, but be careful around the unprotected cliff areas.
To reach this trailhead from U.S. 19, follow W.Va. 16 through Fayetteville and turn left on Gatewood Road at the sign for Kaymoor and Cunard. Follow Gatewood Road for 1.9 miles and turn left on Newton Road. The trailhead parking area is 50 yards on the left.
3. Coopers Rock Overlook
The Cheat River Gorge and its rocky cliffs are another stunning portrait of our jagged mountain landscapes. The gorge is especially beautiful in June when the rhododendron and mountain laurel are in bloom, and in the fall when the leaves turn brilliant warm hues of red, yellow and orange.
4. Blackwater Falls
At 62 feet, Blackwater Falls is West Virginia’s highest waterfall, and the namesake of Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis. Take in different vantage points of the falls from the boardwalk, which has several viewing decks at various levels along a stairway.
You can also discover several smaller— but just as beautiful— waterfalls, including Elakala Falls ( a short hike from the lodge) and Pendleton Falls (which you can see from a roadside pull-off).
While you’re there, follow Lindy Point Trail to the Lindy Point Overlook, where you’ll get a stunning view of Blackwater Canyon.
5. Dolly Sods
The Dolly Sods Wilderness has the best of both worlds: a commanding view 4,000 feet above the valley floor, and an intriguing ecosystem that mimics that of a far-northern climate.
The overlook at Bear Rocks Preserve is the perfect place to catch a sunrise or take pictures of the mountaintop’s windswept spruce and unique rock formations. Dolly Sods is especially beautiful in the fall, when the heath barrens trace a brilliant swath of red through the rocks.
6. Seneca Rocks
The popular rock-climbing destination Seneca Rocks also is one of the most photographed images in the state. See the fin-like rock formation from the Discovery Center parking lot at its base or hike the 1-mile trail to the top for a panoramic shot of the valley.
Get a different perspective of the rocks– from above and behind– from the North Fork Mountain Trail, which follows the ridgeline of North Fork Mountain. Plan for a long hike: the overlook is about 8 or 9 miles from the southern end of the trail, which starts behind a radio tower on U.S. 33 near Franklin. The trail also has several breathtaking overlooks of Germany Valley to the west.
7. Glade Creek Grist Mill
The Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park is one of the most photographed images in the world, and it’s easy to see why. The mill’s picturesque setting on the clear, rock-strewn waters of Glade Creek amidst flowering rhododendron and evergreens makes for a beautiful shot any time of the year.
You don’t have to do any hiking to capture this image; you can photograph the mill right from the parking lot or the patio outside the park restaurant.
8. Mud River Covered Bridge
What could be prettier than an old covered bridge set against autumn colors or blanketed in snow? The Mud River Covered Bridge in Milton was built in 1875 across the Mud River. The historic bridge is now at the Cabell County Fairgrounds, home of the West Virginia Pumpkin Festival, and is a popular background for portrait photography. West Virginia has 17 historic covered bridges still in operation, and all of them make great photo subjects.
9. Cass Scenic Railroad
Railroad buffs will marvel at the 19th century Shay steam engines at Cass Scenic Railroad. The train leaves the station from the historic town of Cass and chugs up the mountain on a series of switchbacks. Trains can roll you along the rails to Whittaker Station, where you’ll find a restored logging camp open for tours; Bald Knob, the 3rd-highest point in West Virginia; and the old logging town of Spruce, which was once the highest and coldest town in the state.
10. Palace of Gold
Tucked into the hills near Moundsville, The Palace of Gold is a feast for the eyes. The palace, with its gold-leaf architecture and colorful stained-glass windows, sparkles like a gem among the forested hills. Plan your trip during the summer to catch the palace rose gardens in bloom.
Where are some of your favorite places in WV to photograph?
This post was last updated on March 16, 2022