Ahh…fall in the mountains! There is quite nothing like it. One of our most favorite parts of moving back to the Valley and putting down roots is being closer to the changing leaves and the glowy mountain sunsets. It also means more space and time for fall mountain engagement sessions! Since this is our ninth fall engagement season, we thought it was time to put all of our collective knowledge together and create this, the Ultimate Guide to Fall Virginia Engagement Sessions…focused especially on spots in the mountains!
Before we begin, let’s chat about timing for a quick sec. If you and your partner are wanting romantic portraits of the two of you in the mountains, sunset is the only way to go. Because the sun can dip behind the mountains a bit earlier than the sunset time listed online, we typically start all of our engagement sessions 2 hours before sunset. That gives us ample time to get in a groove and still get the most perfect golden light.
Alright – time to dive into all our fave locations!
I won’t even beat around the bush with this one – this is THE ultimate mountain engagement session location. You will have a beautiful view of the sunset with tons of visual interest from rocks and trees and the surrounding landscape. There is zero hiking involved, since the overlook is directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The only con? This is the most popular location so it can get quite busy. That said, we can still have a great time and get epic mountain-focused images even on a weekend in October with just a little bit of patience. P.S. – Want to see more from this beautiful spot? Check out Megan + Dan’s 2018 or Meghann + Bryce’s 2020 engagement sessions.
This is another stellar location that is perfect for those looking for a versatile spot for creating portraits with beautiful fall leaves. This location also requires zero hiking, as it is a massive parking lot right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is even a bathroom on site, which is great for changing outfits! We love to start lots of our fall sessions at this spot and then head 10 minutes down the road to end the evening at Ravens Roost. 10/10 combo!
Looking for more versatility in one location? Big Meadows has everything you could ever want from the Shenandoah National Park – stunning open fields, wide open mountain overlooks and a perfect little sunset spot for getting those last little bits of glow. There is a small amount of walking at this location, since the parking lot is a little ways from the most photogenic spots. Still, this location offers stunning views without very much hiking. Best of all – its still free, minus the cost of entry to the park!
This one is for all of my Harrisonburg locals. If you went to JMU (or if you have ever visited), you know that Reddish Knob is truly one of the best 360 degree views in the area. Situated right on the line between Virginia and West Virginia, this spot is a bit of a tricky drive but totally worth it for such a beautiful spot. There is no hiking involved, but there can be some fun traipsing once we are up at the top of the mountain. Great spot, especially for a mini engagement session!
I truly don’t know why this spot is more popular with engaged couples. It is just outside of Winchester, and has so many perfect little vignettes. There is the main historic building, tons of beautiful fall leaves, a whole grove of ginkgo trees, tons of pine trees and several open fields. Lots and lots to explore, and it is all entirely drivable!
Alright, I haven’t been here for a while, but this historic landmark is one of the best rustic-looking locations for an engagement session in all of the Shenandoah Valley. The bridge is overtop a beautiful river that gets great sunset glow. It is also right next to a corn field and line of mature trees that provide tons of visual interest. One con – this is an active road, so shooting in front of the bridge takes a little bit of patience to ensure safety. But the result? Totally worth it.
Decidedly not looking for something rustic? I gotchu! Let me introduce you to my friend Swannanoa Palace! Originally built in 1912 by a railroad tycoon, this marble palace at the top of Afton overlooks the Valley in the most dramatic sense. There is a $150 permit fee for this location, but it is well worth it for those looking for a touch of elegance while staying true to a the mountain engagement session experience. There is no hiking and just a minimal amount of walking to cover all of the beauty of the grounds.
These are just our favorites! There are just so many great locations to take engagement photos at. After all, the location is just the backdrop to a great evening spent with your forever-person and me, your personal paparazzi. Cheers!
Found this post helpful? Make sure to check out our ultimate Shenandoah Valley engagement session guide!