The Top 10 Places To Catch A Sunset In Virginia

Slow things down a bit and take it all in.

By: Christin Healey
July 28, 2015

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Let’s be honest, the West typically gets all the props for in-your-face towering peaks, dramatic landscapes, and rugged, untamed wilderness. If you give Virginia a chance with its majestic Blue Ridge views, friendly locals, and adventure for days, trust me, it just may find a permanent place in your heart.

In the dog days of summer (or anytime, really), there is no better time to enjoy the beauty of the area than when the sun starts to dip below the horizon. Lucky for you, there are no shortage of killer places to take in a sunset in the Virginia. From vistas dotted with bucolic farmland and rolling mountains, to lakes and rivers perfect for paddling or taking a late afternoon dip, read on to discover my top places to catch the last hours of daylight in Virginia.

1. Humpback Rocks

Photo: Christin Healey

It’s somewhat of a tradition for UVA students to climb this summit for sunrise, but all the cool kids know it’s really a sunset spot. Westward facing, this gem is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a must do for anyone in the area. The hike is short enough to justify carting up a few cold ones to enhance that sunset view, and steep enough to feel like you’ve earned ‘em. Go during the week to have the place all to yourself. Learn more.

2. Beaver Creek Reservoir

Photo: Christin Healey

This unassuming little lake is such a hidden gem. Not only does it have incredible Blue Ridge views, but it’s the perfect spot to hit the water in your kayak, canoe, SUP — you name it. And for all you fishermen/women out there? There is an ample supply of sunfish, largemouth bass and catfish to reel in. Learn more.

3. Spy Rock

Photo: Christin Healey

This is such a great hike for so many reasons, but the 360 degree views are at the tippy top of the list. There is an area to camp right below the summit, but it’s also a relatively easy hike back to the parking lot even as you are losing light. Learn more.

4. Skyline Drive Overlook

Photo: Christin Healey

Driving this iconic stretch of pavement is a right of passage for any visitor or local in the area. This gorgeous drive stretches 105 miles through the Shenandoah National Park, and offers 75 glorious overlooks facing either west or east. Pack a picnic and your favorite people, and take your pick of any of these perfect vistas. Find a map and current road info from the Shenandoah NPS website.

5. McAfee Knob

Photo: Christin Healey

This is the most photographed spots on the A.T., and for good reason! With spectacular views of the southern Shenandoah Valley and a photogenic rocky outcrop, this hike is hard to beat. Go for sunset and your only companions will be the occasional A.T. thru-hikers. Check out my adventure for the best way to navigate down after dark. Learn more.

6. Bearfence Mountain

Photo: Christin Healey

There are not enough words to describe how much I love this little trail. It packs so much punch into 1.2 little miles, and you feel like you can keep watch over all of Virginia from the top. The rock scramble to the top is just hard enough to feel like a bit of a challenge, but as with most of these adventures, don’t forget that headlamp going down! The only downside to this one is no four-legged hiking friends allowed. Learn more.

7. Ravens Roost

Photo: Christin Healey

This pullout off the Blue Ridge Parkway is all about maximum rewards for minimum effort. Bring your camera to capture this extremely photogenic tree as the sun dips below the mountain and floods the valley with one last burst of light. If you are feeling extra adventurous, this is also a popular climbing and occasionally, hang gliding spot. Learn more.

8. Walnut Creek Park

Photo: Christin Healey

If you are into mountain biking, this is your place. There are 13 miles of mountain bike trails that circle the lake. There are also 2 beaches to stretch out on or go for a dip and picnic tables throughout the park. Learn more.

9. Local wineries, breweries, & distilleries

Photo: Jen Fariello

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Central Virginia is getting serious about their booze. Thomas Jefferson started the vineyard trend in the 1700’s, and we have made leaps and bounds since then. Add in world-class brews, idyllic views, and even moonshine distilleries popping up, and you have seemingly endless ways to wrap up a full day of adventures. Find some of my favorites over here.

10. Your Own Front Porch

Photo: Christin Healey

We are in the South, after all! Sometimes there is nothing better than stretching out with a sweet tea and watching the light fade from the sky on your very own front porch, and no one knows this better than a good Southerner. A visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without slowing things down a bit, drinking it all in, and appreciating the simpler things in life. Learn more.

As an avid traveler, I love nothing more than exploring new places, but am always so excited to come home to beautiful Virginia. If you have any questions about the area or are headed this way, feel free to reach out. Happy adventuring, y’all!

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.