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New River Valley

I spent the third week in April in North Carolina on my annual golf trip.  This year, I drove down.  From Michigan, the 14+ hour drive took me through Southeastern Ohio and its “Hocking Hills.”  Unfortunately I was on a deadline and unable to stop, but could readily see that there are some great potential photographic opportunities there.

From Hocking Hills, through most of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, the roadside forests were dotted with American Redbud trees in full purple bloom.

American Redbud

From Ohio, I traveled through the Western part of West Virginia.  I had a plan to drive through part of the New River valley and to arrive there by “afternoon light.”  The New River is a designated National River and part of the National Park System.  I entered the park at Sandstone, West Virginia, where there is a NP Visitor Center.

I was in search of a couple of waterfalls.  One of them I never found.  The other–Sandstone Falls–is approached by a scenic turnoff on the Park Road.  Sadly, the road was under construction (information not made available either on their website, or by the Park Personnel or posting in the visitor center!).  The construction equipment was staged in and completely blocked out the turnoff for the scenic view of the falls (and the “postcard” shot I had seen in the visitor center).  I’m glad I didn’t drive over just for photography in the park.  To some extent, the drive through the New River National River area was a disappointment.  I did find a wide spot in the road and was able to find a couple of scenic shots.  Most of West Virginia is mountainous country and there are numerous parks and rivers and I am sure, some great photographic opportunities.

New River Valley

From Sandstone, I drove the park road (W VA 20) all the way through Pipestem, where Pipestem State Park and Resort is located, and Athens, where I eventually rejoined Interstate 77 and continued on to North Carolina.  On the way is Bluestone Lake, which is a very wide spot in the New River with some pretty dramatic mountain backgrounds.  Again, time did not allow thorough exploration.  I did stop briefly at Pipestem Falls, a small, roadside waterfall, for a few minutes to add to my growing waterfall collection.

Pipestem Falls

Last year, I joined Midwest Photography Enthusiasts Group, which has a section that covers W. Virginia and Western Pennsylvania.  We have the luxury of having a professional photographer, teacher and workshop leader there and perhaps I will have to join up for one of his workshops to find out more about the W. VA photo ops.


6 Responses

  1. Andy, I’ve been to West Virginia three times with a few days for photography and I’ve found some very nice places. My favorite is Babcock State Park where I love to photograph the old grist mill there. I’ve photographed the New River Bridge as well. The problem I’ve found with the New River is that it is difficult to get to and where there are some nice lookouts, there always seem to be power lines or train tracks along the mountain.

    My biggest frustration is that there are few places to pull off the road. There is one place in particular that I’ve been past. It is a boulder strewn stream with lots of cascading water. The problem is that it is a along a winding mountain road and there is no place to pull off. I think the only way to get there is to have someone drop you and pick you up later.

    With all those hardwoods on the mountains, you can see why I love to photograph West Virginia in the autumn.


  2. Hi Al: Thanks for the comment. I have read about the Babcock SP Gristmill (and believe I have seen some of your shots of it as well). It indeed looks like there might be some nice fall color opportunities there. I, too, was struck by the lack of places to pull off the road. It does look like an interesting place to do some exploring. You might want to look into the MPEG forum. Mark Perry, who “owns” it, onlty charges $15/year. It doesn’t seem to have the robust participation that the NPN site does, but I think with the right enthusiasic members, it will.

    There is a pro named Jim Moore who moderates part of the forum and who teaches at a small college in Pittsburgh, but seems to know a lot about W. PA, W VA and W Maryland. He does workshops and they look pretty reasonable. I may attend one of them in the next year or two.

  3. Although you had some disappointments, you still managed to capture a few beautiful springtime scenics Andy….beautiful colors.

  4. Thanks, Carol. I am hoping to bring back some “keepers” from Alaska. we sail in 2 weeks!

  5. I think you would really like Hocking Hills – it is really one of Southern Ohio’s gems. It is definitely worthy of an entire day of exploring just that area (perhaps more).

  6. Thanks, Mark. From what I have read, it definitely has some photo ops. Probably 2-3 days. I hope to get it on the agenda in the next couple years.

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