Sometimes, you just wake up and decide you need to get out and get some fresh air. This past Monday, I woke up feeling that way and decided to take a spontaneous trip somewhere exciting. I ultimately decided on Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. Although it’s about a 3 hour drive from where I live, I deemed it worthwhile and set out.
On my drive down, I thought about how it would be cool to share not so much the trip itself, but the location and kind of review it and give some cool tips. So that’s what this is. A review of sorts. Now keep in mind, this was only my second time here, and I really haven’t seen a ton. So this is a starting point for you. I’m basically just highlighting what I saw and giving my experience. Onto the good stuff.
Lets get into the meat and potatoes of this location first.
So it’s called “Blackwater Falls State Park” for a reason. There’s a giant waterfall with that exact name. I’m not sure if they planned that, or they both just happened to be named the same thing, but it worked out. Who knows. Anyways, if you’re coming from the town of Davis, you’ll first notice signs saying stuff about cabins and the falls. If you follow the falls sign, it’ll take you straight to the main viewing location. This is where you see all the typical shots from the viewing points looking straight on at the falls. These are cool spots, but everyone and their mother has this exact shot. That’s the thing with these kinds of locations, they’re incredibly cool, but over shot (if you’re a photographer). That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit them though. It’s absolutely beautiful and there’s a ton of cool locations for photos around here. Like I said above, I’ve only been here twice and have barely cracked the surface. There’s a ton of trails around the location and lots of cool view points.
Anyways, if you still haven’t quenched your metaphorical thirst for big ass waterfalls, there’s one more main viewpoint to check out Blackwater Falls. If you head back out of that parking lot and make a right, then make the next right, you’ll go across a bridge. If you follow that road for a bit, there’s a small parking lot that has a little trail that takes you to the viewing deck. This one is much cooler to me because it gives you a nice perspective of the falls. It’s framed nicely by some trees as well, so if you’re a photographer, it’s pretty easy to get a cool composition here.
When I got up to this view deck, it started snowing pretty violently. Instead of doing a long exposure of the waterfall, I decided to take a faster shot to capture the snowfall.
Fun fact. At this trail, you can also see that there’s semi-established footpaths going down towards the river itself. I didn’t get to go down there this time, but the last time I was here, we did. It’s pretty cool once you make it down there too. You can hear the roar of the falls, but it also gives you a cool view of the river and the valley cut out by the river. This is a great spot for photos. There's multiple compositions available and it's not nearly as common to see pictures from this location.
Here’s a pic from the last time we were here.
This picture is older, and I wish I could recreate it. Photography is weird like that. I always feel like I'm learning and want to go back and do things better or different.
There’s also some awesome rocks for you to plop your butt down and catch your breath like I did because the hike down is gruesome to say the least. Don’t fret tho, it only gets worse going back up. So if you’re out of shape like I am, be prepared for that, otherwise you’re gonna be the weird guy who got helicoptered out of Blackwater Falls. No one wants to be that guy.
So, I know you probably want to go to this location for the falls, but hear me out for a second. There are some KILLER mountain views here all along the main road I was just talking about. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there on a day where it’s not super windy (I’ve yet to have any luck like that anywhere, RIP) and won’t get blown off the top of the ridges. Literally all along these roads there’s cool views. If you snag a park map, or just google it like a normal person in 2018, you’ll be able to see where they all are. Lucky you!
This was shot from one of the many pull-off scenic views along the roads at Blackwater Falls State Park. It's pretty easy to see why so many people are brought to this location.
Going with the theme of stuff you didn’t want to see, there’s also a ton of wildlife in this area, specifically deer. Expect to see them and slow down if you do. When I visited last, it snowed really hard (IN APRIL) and I spent 2 hours following this herd of deer around trying to get cool shots of them. Ironically, I ended up following them right back to where I had parked and watched from a distance as they crossed the road. It was a pretty cool sight and definitely not what I expected to be amazed by while I was there.
It took a while to get a shot of the deer I had been following, but I think it ended up being worth it. Sometimes you just get lucky.
That’s the thing about this place. You’re going to have expectations of one thing, and it’s going to hit you with 12 other cooler things you didn't expect. It really is a cool spot, and feels very West Virginia in terms of views and plant/animal life. You really are gonna love it here whether you’re just coming for a day, or staying a weekend. Jokes aside and all.
I also never even looked into the cabins or anything, but it seems like they're pretty popular, so I'm sure there's a ton I'm still missing about Blackwater.
Now about that photography thing. As far as I can tell, there’s not a TON of photography here, as beautiful as it is. There’s obviously the big shots like the waterfalls, the views, and the “standing in front of the former 2 things and taking a selfie” shot I showed you. You just have to remember that everyone who can walk down some stairs or drive around to viewing spots is going to have that same shot. If you're cool with that, then you're good. Photography is weird like that. There's going to be beautiful places you visit that just aren't photogenic, or if they are, they're over shot. That's what also makes it so much fun, because you get to be creative.
That being said, I wouldn't doubt that if I had more time to explore the trails and other things around the park that I would find more compositions. I would probably give Blackwater falls a 7/10 on the nature side and a 6/10 in terms of photography potential. So it's definitely worth a visit or two. If you live in the area, and haven't been there, you're crazy. If you live 100ish miles away and are questioning if you should go or not, you should.
Thanks for reading, and if you're interested in seeing more location reviews, let me know.
If you have any cool locations you want to recommend, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
And as a final note, Pens beat the Flyers after I posted my last blog so now I feel like I have to mention my affliction for the Pens every time I write a blog, otherwise they might not win.
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