This post may contain affiliate links for which we would earn a small commission at no cost to you. If you want to read more about it, check out our disclaimer.
I’ve received MANY emails, text messages, social media comments asking where are my favorite sunrise and sunset locations in Shenandoah National Park. Today, I’m excited to share my absolute favorite spots on the northern part of Skyline Drive!!! Whether you live in Virginia or out of state, visiting the Shenandoah Mountains is a must in my book if you’re visiting Virginia!! In fact, Shenandoah National Park is one of my many favorite places. And thanks to my photography business, I’m able to spend some time up in the mountains quite often. 🙂 No matter the season, this place is pretty spectacular all year long!
This blog post features spots that are in between Luray (the Thornton Gap Entrance) and Stanardsville (the Swift Run Gap Entrance) in Virginia! This area is also known as the “Central District.” I love to bounce around from overlook to overlook since they are all beautiful and different vantage points. Each overlook has a unique element with some hidden trails!!! I’ve learned so much about these overlooks by exploring around and through my clients. One senior portrait session I photographed a while back took me to their favorite picnic spot that was private and located on the cliffs from a hidden pathway. I would have never known about it, but it’s all part of the fun of exploring around! I encourage you to do the same, but I hope you find this guide helpful!
Favorite Sunrise Spot
TIP: If you were to visit another sunrise location, be sure to think about the overlooks that face EAST! 😉 That means a lot of overlooks on the left if you’re coming from Luray (the Thornton Gap Entrance) or the right if you’re coming from Stanardsville (the Swift Run Gap Entrance)!
Thorofare Mountain Overlook
Favorite Sunset Spots
TIP: If you were to visit another sunset location, be sure to think about the overlooks that face WEST! 😉 That means a lot of overlooks on the right if you’re coming from Luray (the Thornton Gap Entrance) or the left if you’re coming from Stanardsville (the Swift Run Gap Entrance)!
Franklin Cliffs Overlook
**I would encourage that this overlook not be “the ultimate sunset spot.” The sun sets behind the mountain much earlier, but love seeing that beautiful golden light!!!**
Crescent Rock Overlook
Timber Hollow Overlook
Favorite Place to Stay
Getaway | A Modern Cabin Rental
Be sure to BOOK in advance because these modern tiny cabin homes rent up FAST! Especially during the peak seasons. Alex and I stayed in a Getaway, and it was an experience in itself!!! We loved the simplicity of the stay, and how they encourage you to lock up your phones in a wooden box. If you want to escape for a little bit, this is THE place to go. 🙂
Over 10-miles with fun rock scrambles, animal sightings, and pretty views (especially at sunset). Old Rag is my favorite challenging hike in Northern Virginia! When Alex asked me to hike it with him on our second date, I knew he would either be a keeper or I would have to figure out how to escape the long hike. HAHA! Fortunately (and obviously), it worked out in the best way possible!!! He even managed to show off his manly skills by protecting us from a full-grown black bear!
If you’re able to time it out so you can get to the top to watch the sunset, then I highly recommend it!!! Be sure to bring a headlamp for your hike down the mountain. The best part is the hike down is SO easy because a good portion of the descent is used for emergency vehicles! 🙂
If you want to read all about the Old Rag hike, check it out HERE!! Keep in mind that you cannot access it from Skyline Drive. So be sure to read about how to get there in advance and beware of the minimal cellphone service! 🙂
Have you stopped by any of my favorite sunrise and sunset locations in the Shenandoah National Park?? If not, I hope you found this helpful during your next visit!!! 🙂
I recommend a book that pushes you to escape. Check out Jennie Allen’s book, “Get Out of Your Head!”