Where do you go for a day of landscape and nature photography? Most of us have a handful of select favorite places that are often the same places that other like minded individuals tend toward. Tucker County is one of my such places.
With Canaan Valley State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge, and the Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area so easily accessible, it would seem there is little need to look outside of these great photographic destinations.
And while there are, no doubt, many opportunities to set up your tripod in these areas, there is still more to see! Let's not forget that nearly all of Tucker County is in the Monongahela National Forest, and almost any drive is going to be scenic. A simple venture out of the park on Freeland Road brings you quick access to the Wildlife Refuge. A trip down Cortland Road crosses through scenic pastorals.
Simply getting out of the car and walking around a little bit will introduce you to breathtaking places. When I explored this area, I found the "living room" to a popular campsite overlooking the Blackwater River:
Or you might choose to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna of the region. A little stand of cotton grass and Rust Ferns absolutely fascinated me, and I spent about an hour in the bog enjoying them and the reindeer moss.
But not all of your photographs are going to be found where every other photographer has trod and planted their tripod legs. Knowing that I was short on time and needed to start towards home, I decided to take the long way, exploring WV Rt 72 to Parsons. I highly recommend this trip and the many potential side trips that lie within.
Here you will encounter the locals and find some great fishing and hunting camps. These are the real people from the area who can fill you in on the details, like why the maples are turning so early this year. The old timer that I spoke with had lived on the same farm for 86 years.
If you dare to venture off the beaten path, you might be lucky enough to encounter some of the beauty that is West Virginia!