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North Carolina in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Lana Law
Feb 5, 2020

Beautiful sights are everywhere in North Carolina. From the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the beaches of the Outer Banks, have your camera ready at all times. Discover massive waterfalls along scenic drives, quaint small towns, historic sites, and urban landscapes.

The scenery changes with the season in North Carolina. In spring, colorful flowers and bright green foliage dominate the vistas, while in fall, the orange and yellow leaves light up the forest. In winter, the snow-covered mountains change the look of the land completely. Any time of year is a good time to visit and photograph North Carolina.

1. Blue Ridge Parkway

Price Lake and Grandfather Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in fall is spectacular. The orange and golden colors of the leaves stretch out endlessly as you look out over the mountains. On a calm day, you can capture the reflection of Grandfather Mountain in Price Lake.

2. Beaches of the Outer Banks

Sunrise at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Sunrise over the beaches on the Outer Banks is always a beautiful sight. Whether it's crashing waves or calm water, there is always something to photograph. Scattered clouds pop in the early morning light as the sun comes up over the ocean.

3. Whitewater Falls

Whitewater Falls | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

The waterfalls in North Carolina are nothing less than spectacular. If you are visiting any of North Carolina's mountain towns, you will be within easy day tripping distance of some of the best waterfalls in the state. One of the most beautiful waterfalls to photograph is Whitewater Falls in Nantahala National Forest. From the parking lot, a short walk along a paved path takes you to a fabulous lookout to the falls, which drops more than 800 feet.

4. Wild Horses on Corolla Island

Horses on Corolla Island

Wild horses roam the windswept beaches on Corolla Island and make wonderful photo subjects. Waves crashing on the beach, horses walking along the water's edge or in the dunes, and beautiful sunrises are just some of the picture possibilities. This island is one of the top attractions in the Outer Banks.

5. Edenton

Cupola House, Edenton | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

To capture history and small-town charm, head to the coastal town of Edenton in North Carolina's Inner Banks. Beautiful old homes line the streets, and the picturesque waterfront looks out over Albemarle Sound.

6. Dry Falls

Dry Falls | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

Dry Falls offers photographers an interesting perspective. You can walk behind this waterfall and see it from below the edge of the falls. Come here in spring when the rivers are swollen and the surrounding trees are a vibrant green. The waterfall is located near the town of Highland.

7. Mt. Mitchell

View from Mt. Mitchell

North Carolina's highest mountain is Mt. Mitchell, which is also the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. You can hike or drive up the mountain to enjoy beautiful views over the Appalachian Mountains. Come here at sunrise or in the early morning to capture color and shadows.

8. Grandfather Mountain

Sunset from Grandfather Mountain

Another place for outstanding views over the mountains is Grandfather Mountain, near the town of Linville. It is known for the Mile High Swing Bridge at the top of the mountain. This is the highest suspension footbridge in the United States, and visitors can walk across it to see a vast expanse of rolling mountains.

9. North Carolina Mountains in Winter

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort

While you may be tempted to picture North Carolina's mountains in bright shades of green or autumn colors, winter brings its own beauty. When the mountains are blanketed in snow and the landscape is glistening white, you can expect to find some spectacular scenes. Head to the mountain towns, and particularly the areas near North Carolina's ski resorts, like Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, pictured above.

10. Historic Yates Mill County Park

Historic Yates Mill County Park

Just outside Raleigh, Yates Mill is an 18th-century gristmill. This is a good place to come for a little history and photography. A museum here discusses the history of milling, as well as the natural history of the area.

11. Raleigh

Raleigh at Night

If you are looking for some urban images, head to Raleigh and photograph the city lights, the modern skyline, or the State Capitol building. This is a lovely city to spend some time in, with many worthwhile tourist attractions to explore.

12. Asheville

Park Square in Asheville

A popular base for visitors heading to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a lively town with plenty of interesting sights to photograph. The parks and old architecture are always good places to start, but this can also be a good place to photograph people and events. Watch for street performers or stop by the drum circle in downtown, a popular tradition in Asheville.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Asheville: Best Areas & Hotels

13. DuPont State Recreational Forest

Hooker Falls, DuPont State Recreational Forest

Not far from the town of Hendersonville, DuPont State Recreational Forest is home to a number of hiking trails and several lovely waterfalls. This area was used as a filming location in the first Hunger Games movie.

14. Mount Airy

Downtown Mount Airy | Photo Copyright: Lana Law

For a little nostalgia, head to Mount Airy. This was the home town of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry. Ford Galaxie 500 squad car replicas can be seen at most of the major tourist attractions in town as they shuttle visitors around on tours. The town itself, set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, offers scenery and other retro delights.

15. Waves, Outer Banks

Kitesurfers at sunset in Waves

For action shots, head to the Outer Banks to watch the kitesurfers racing along the water and doing jumps. North Carolina is a popular place for kiteboarding, and one of the best places for this is in the town of Waves, or nearby Avon.

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