Photographing Shenandoah NP: Hazel Mountain Overlook

September 19, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Photographing Hazel Mountain Overlook

Location: Shenandoah National Park: Central District

Best time of year to photograph: Late Summer to Mid Spring

Subject Focus: Sunrise, Landscape, Nature 

Popularity: High

Mile Maker: 33 on Skyline Drive


Skyline Dive runs through the heart of Shenandoah National Park.  Consisting of 72 overlooks over 105 miles, Skyline Drive offers great views of the surrounding Blue Ride Mountains and valleys.  Hazel Mountain Overlook is located at mile marker 33 along Skyline Drive and is one of a handful of overlooks that looks due east.  Located in the northern part of the Central District of Shenandoah one mile south of Mary’s Rock Tunnel, Hazel Mountain Overlook allows viewers to enjoy the beautiful sunrises while in Shenandoah National Park.  The quickest way to reach this outlook is through the Thornton Gap entrance off of Route 211 and then drive south two miles along Skyline Drive until you reach Hazel Mountain Overlook, which will be on the left side. 

Stump at Hazel Mountain OverlookStump at Hazel Mountain OverlookStump at Hazel Mountain Overlook in Shenandoah National Park.

​(Hazel Mountain Overlook, 29mm, F/16, 1/8sec, 1/2sec, 1.6sec, HDR, ISO 100) 

Hazel Mountain Overlooks has some huge boulders that can be used as a foreground interest or can be climbed on top for a higher viewpoint.  Even though this can be a popular overlook, there is enough space to spread out and capture the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  If you are feeling a little adventurous, there are two flat rocks just below the overlook that photographers could hike to in order to capture a different angle of the breathtaking landscape.  

Sunstar at Hazel Mountain OverlookSunstar at Hazel Mountain OverlookSunrise at Hazel Mountain Overlook in Shenandoah National Park.

(Hazel Mountain Overlook, 20mm, 1/10sec, F/16, ISO 100)

Hazel Mountain Overlook looks due east making it ideal to photograph from late summer to mid spring.  Around the summer solstice, June 21, the sun rises in the north east and will be blocked by the ridge line that Skyline Drive follows.  As the sun rises, it will travel south and quickly come into view while still low in the sky.  If you are hoping to photograph the sun rising, then avoid Hazel Mountain Overlook from late May to July.  If you are photographing Shenandoah National Park around the summer solstice, then I suggest driving north 0.2 miles along Skyline Dive to Buck Hollow Overlook which looks North East.  Click here if you want learn how to photograph Buck Hollow Overlook.

Learn More: Essential Landscape Photography TipsPhotographing Shenandoah National Park


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