Photographing Appalachian Mountains: 20 Minute Cliff Overlook

May 31, 2017  •  1 Comment

Photographing 20 Minute Cliff Overlook


Location: Blue Ridge Parkway

Best time of year to photograph: Year Around

Subject Focus: Landscape, Nature, Sunset

Popularity: Low 

Mile Maker: 19 on The Blue Ridge Parkway


With an outstanding 180 degree western facing view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is a great spot to enjoy a beautiful panoramic vista during sunset while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Mountain LaurelMountain LaurelThe mountain laurel were in full bloom atop 20 Minute Cliff Overlook. While on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is a great place to watch the sunset behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. (26mm, F/11, 1sec, ISO 100, Facing Southwest)

Located at mile marker 19 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is super easy to access and has an amazing 180 degree panoramic view. Looking West over the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 2,715 foot overlook has a great view of the Priest to the South, Maintop Mountain and Fork Mountain to the West, and Round Mountain to the Northwest.  20 Minute Cliff Overlook is located 19 miles south from the northern most entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway just off of Interstate 64, making it super easy to get to.  There is no park entrance fee, and the overlook has plenty of parking.  I always thought it was called 20 Minute Cliff Overlook because to takes about 20 minutes to drive there once on the parkway, but the name 20 originated from farmers working in the White Rock Valley below the overlook.  When the sun hit the rocks the farmers knew they had 20 minutes left before the sun set behind the ridge line. 

Sunset at 20 Minute Cliff OverlookSunset at 20 Minute Cliff OverlookWhile on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 20 Minute Cliff Overlook is a great place to watch the sunset behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. (16mm, F/11, 1/10sec, ISO 100, Facing West)

There are two main rock cliffs but plenty of places to spread out along the overlook, giving photographers the chance to take different angles, including a panorama (click here for tips on how to create a panorama).  The White Rock Valley and the multiple layers of mountain ranges make 20 Minute Cliff Overlook an ideal place to photograph the Blue Ridge Mountain (click here for photography tips).  From the overlook, the White Rock Valley runs due West, but with views to the Northwest and Southwest, this is a great place to capture the sun setting behind the mountains year around. During May-July and November-January, photographers will be able to capture a nice sidelight during sunset for part of the valley, which adds depth and detail in the mountain ranges.  The White Rock Valley can be used as a leading line (click here for composition tips). With it being along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this makes it a great spot to stop and watch the sunset after a day on the trail.

Hiking in the Blue Ridge MountainsHiking in the Blue Ridge MountainsThe Blue Ridge Mountains are full of great hikes.

(27mm, F/11, 1/30sec, ISO 100, Facing South)

Click here for more photography tips!

Click here for more photo adventures in the Appalachians Mountains!

Click Here for photo adventures in Shenandoah National Park!


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