If you want a hidden gem for your engagement session in southwestern Virginia, consider Buffalo Mountain Natural Area.
This nature preserve is one of the best places for engagement or couples photography in the region.
Buffalo Mountain sits on what used to be Cherokee land about 20 minutes outside of Floyd. It’s a popular hike, with most hikers setting out mid-morning. But at sunrise, you have a good chance of getting the summit to yourself!
Buffalo Mountain has a unique ecosystem for Virginia. In fact, 15 rare plants live here as well as three rare animals (or rather bugs).
As a result, there are specific places you can go at the summit – the rest is off limits. But the rocky outcroppings are fair game. From them, you get 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Of course, sunrise is always a bit of a gamble and sometimes being up in the mountains means fog. And lots of it.
That was the case for Holly and Jason’s anniversary session.
We met in the 10-car parking area around 5 am. (Side note, this hike gets busy later in the day, and parking is not guaranteed. Yet it’s prohibited to park on the access road. The area appears well patrolled, so it’s best to arrive before the parking area fills up and to not risk a tow.)
It had been raining overnight, but had cleared. I drove through some fog on the way to the nature preserve, but the fog seemed absent there. Until we started hiking.
As we climbed the moderate .9 miles to the summit, it got more and more foggy. By the time we reached the top, it was a total whiteout. But it was also really windy and we could see the wind pushing the fog. So I hoped that if we waited it would clear a bit.
I started shooting with the brush in the background (there are no trees at the summit) and then we hiked back down the path a little bit for photography within the woods.
At last the wind started to clear the fog and we got glimpses of the mountains in the background and the inverted clouds that hung low between them.
For about 15 minutes we could see a bit of the view and then the fog closed in entirely again.
It’s always a little bit of a bummer when the fog never completely clears at a summit, but I LOVE cloud inversions. There is something magical about them. It makes you feel like you are floating on a sea of white.
You’ll see through the gallery how fog changes the scene from completely white at the beginning, to open skies but no mountains, to partially obscured mountains. It almost looks like three different places!
Tips for choosing this spot for your engagement session:
20 minutes from Floyd
60 minutes from Blacksburg
80 minutes from Roanoke
90 minutes from Winston-Salem
Interested in Buffalo Mountain Nature Preserve for your own engagement? Get in touch with me here! You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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