Valle Crucis NC: A Photographer’s Treasure Chest

Valle Crucis NC is an unincorporated community in Western North Carolina. Situated in the Southern Appalachian Mountains just west of Boone, the valley lies along the Watauga River. In spite of not being a big river it has terrific trout fishing waters. The river provides a very photogenic site for nature photographers. Birds, including Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, Owls, and myriad songbirds frequent the river.

Red Barn Valle Crucis

Valle Crucis NC Barn

There are rocks and rapids in many sections of the river that also are very nice for those who enjoy shooting water. Occasional kayakers struggle through, but the river is at times too shallow and rocky for them to accomplish much. There are many waterfalls in the area that are easily accessible and wonderful to photograph. One can get good vantage points safely, an important consideration. An excellent resource is the book by Kevin Adams, North Carolinas Waterfalls, a Hiking and Photography Guide.

Landscape photography opportunities abound in the area. The Blue Ridge Parkway passes through Watauga County and provides multiple opportunities for beautiful images of not only the surrounding mountains and valleys, but also other things like the Linn Cove Viaduct, built to avoid cutting into a mountain. The Moses Cone Memorial Park just south of Blowing Rock provides 25 miles of walking trails, great views, and a stunning 13,000 square foot mansion.

Mountain View

Mountain View, Valle Crucis NC

In Valle Crucis the Episcopal Church has been the backbone of the community. The original church, St John’s Episcopal Church, sits on the side of a mountain with dramatic views of the valley. This church dates back to before the Civil War and still holds worship services during the summer. It is often open during the week and is an interesting place to photograph.

Part of this region’s is that while it has a “season,” summer and fall, it is a great place to do photography any time of the year. January and February are typically quite cold and snowy, but other than that, the climate is moderate. Summers are cool, fresh, and busy with people escaping the heat and humidity of more southern locales. Fall is gorgeous with the leaves changing and providing giant splashes of color across the landscape. The third weekend of October each year has two large festivals happening-one in Valle Crucis and the other in Banner Elk. The festivals are terrific, both fun and full of photographic opportunities. Traffic is very difficult and most lodging is reserved months ahead. So if you like to photograph this sort of thing in a beautiful setting, you need to plan ahead.

There are several Inns and B and Bs in the area. The most noted is the Mast Farm Inn that is on the National Historic Register. There are rooms, cabins, and small apartments available. It has a quite nice restaurant. The Mast Store is also an historic old general store that still functions as a general store and Post Office. There is an annex one block away that carries a full line of outdoor clothing as well as hiking, rock climbing, and camping supplies. A community park behind the Mast Store has a nice walking trail, children’s playground, and access to a calm stretch of the river suitable for wading.

There is so much in the surrounding area that a visit for a weekend is a terrific get away. If you want more time a weeklong stay can be a very busy vacation with caves to explore, white water rafting, canoeing, ranger led nature hikes, an outdoor drama, a beautiful health spa, other nice restaurants, and endless photo opportunities.

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