If there’s one technological advancement we’re excited to have access to, it’s the panoramic shot from our smart phone camera.
There are many views in Virginia’s Blue Ridge that will take your breath away, but these 14 spots with near-360° views are the cream of the crop. Don’t believe us? Just look at the panos floating on the internet for proof.
Here, we snagged one of each for you to salivate over.
Mill Mountain Overlook | Roanoke
Home to the Roanoke Star, this overlook offers the Roanoke Valley for your photo affection. Approach the summit of Mill Mountain from J.P. Fishburn Parkway or Mill Mountain Parkway. Be sure to get a selfie with the famed star, check out the Discovery Center, and stop to smell the wildflowers in the garden before departing. The Mill Mountain Zoo is also a fun stop!
Roanoke River Gorge | Roanoke
One of the highlights of the Roanoke River Blueway is the gorge; a series of Class I-II rapids between Little Niagara and Rutrough Road in Explore Park. View the gorge from the Blue Ridge Parkway bridge near the Roanoke River Overlook at Milepost 114.9, though the view from the banks is pretty rad, too.
Tinker Ridge / Hay Rock Overlook | Daleville
Hike along the Appalachian Trail to make your way out to a breathtaking overlook of Carvins Cove Natural Area. Depending on the time of day, the sun sparkles off of the reservoir far below as the mountains’ shadows grow longer.
Dragon’s Tooth | Catawba
A rugged trail leading to large rock outcrops is rewarding with wide views of valleys and surrounding peaks. The highest geological feature is the 35’ rock spire known as “dragon’s tooth.” You can’t miss it.
Salem Red Sox | Salem
If you have a love of baseball, summer nights, and gorgeous sunsets, head to Haley Toyota Field to see the Salem Red Sox, Advanced Class “A” Minor League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. With the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, there may not be a more stunning minor league experience in America.
James River | Buchanan to Arcadia
The views along and of the entire Upper James River Water Trail are stunning. However, we’re particularly fond of the wide views between Buchanan and Arcadia. Connect with Twin River Outfitters for a guided or unguided float, canoe, or kayak experience.
Mills Gap Overlook - Blue Ridge Parkway
As you’re traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, be sure to stop at milepost 91.8, Mills Gap Overlook. At an elevation of 2,435 feet, the views of Buchanan below and mountains beyond are sure to take your breath. In something of a rare occurrence along the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are views across the Parkway from the overlook as well.
Sharp Top Mountain | Bedford
Long thought to be the highest point in Virginia, Sharp Top Mountain isn’t even the highest of the three Peaks of Otter. Nevertheless, Sharp Top is the most popular climb of the Peaks and includes shuttle service for those who want to experience the incredible panoramic views without the huff-and-puff of the climb.
Center in the Square Rooftop | Roanoke
From the roof at Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke, you have a wide view of more of downtown and of the surrounding mountains. The multi-level roof is a frequent host for receptions of all kinds. Peak down into the butterfly garden while you’re up there!
Rows upon rows upon rows of mature hardwoods create a magical “enchanted forest” that hikers, bikers, and runners course through as they enjoy the beauty of Carvins Cove Natural Reserve. It’s the second largest municipal park in the country at 12,700 acres. More than 11,000 acres of the Reserve is under a conservation easement, making it the largest easement of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Smith Mountain Lake | Moneta
Virginia’s second largest lake is Smith Mountain Lake, a man-made body of water with more than 500 miles of shoreline. The Smith Mountain Lake Dam, constructed at Smith Mountain Gap in the early 1960s, created the 40-mile “jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.” At the dam, the depth of the lake is 200 feet. Stop into the Visitor Center at the dam to learn the history, take in the views of above and below the dam, and even have a picnic, if you want to. If you get on the water, you’ll also discover a striking view of Smith Mountain.
Roanoke Mountain Overlook | Roanoke
Near milepost 120 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Roanoke Mountain Overlook offers sweeping views of downtown Roanoke, Mill Mountain, and the valley below. With overlooks facing both east and west, it's a unique spot that offers sunrise and sunset views.
Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport | Roanoke
Whether you’re flying into Virginia’s Blue Ridge or not, the airport is a pretty cool place for panoramic shots. Think about it: Clear fields with a mountain backdrop makes for a pretty great view. Catch the planes coming and going, or wait for a break in air traffic to capture something magnificent.
Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech | Blacksburg
The stadium roars as Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” cues the Hokies to take the field. The whole place erupts and it’s a moment you want to live in for more than the couple of minutes its lasts. Sigh. Why can’t football be a year ‘round sport? Don’t miss the shot as you’re caught up in the hype. Hold that smartphone high and take that awesome pano. We want to see it!
Map of Locations
Join in our panoramic picture party by sharing your own panoramic shots of Virginia’s Blue Ridge. We’d love to see them on Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook. Tag them with #BlueRidgeDay and we may share our favorites!