Photo opportunities in "Beartown"

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Gerry Bishop
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Photo opportunities in "Beartown"

My wife (Pam) and I visited Beartown State Park in West Virginia on Friday and had a great time. This park, featuring some fascinating rock formations, was recommended to the club a number of years ago by Ian Plant, who was one of our judges and presenters and who has gone on to become one of the best nature photographers in the world.

The park is about 2.5 hours west of here, but definitely worth the trip. We took Interstate 64 west and then US 219 north to the park, then wandered the small mountain roads back to Staunton, which offers many good restaurants to top off your day.

Perhaps because we went on a weekday, and there were showers in the forecast, we were the only two people in the park for the entire time. You should also plan on going on a cloudy or partly cloudy day, because soft light will reward you with the best photos. You'll also want to use a tripod, because the narrow spaces between the rock formations will require long exposure times at reasonable ISO settings. A wide-angle lens is essential for some of the best photos, because you must remain on the boardwalk and often can't get more than a couple of feet away from a beautiful formation. (I used my 24 to 70mm zoom and 20mm fixed focal length lenses almost exclusively.)

The trail begins only short way from the parking lot, and the boardwalk (with occasional stairways) through the formations is only about .5 mi. long, so I would rate it as very easy.

Spring comes late in these mountains, so some of the ferns growing on the rocks were just sprouting new fronds when we were there and will be at their peak in about a month of two.

If you need any further information or suggestions, just let me know via email.

Some of the photos I took are attached.