The New River Gorge in southern West Virginia is filled with many excellent locations for photography, including several waterfalls. One of the more picturesque waterfalls in the area is Dunloup Falls. This small waterfall is only about 20 feet high, but makes up for a lack of height with plenty of natural beauty.
Dunloup Creek eventually flows into the New River, but near the ghost town of Thurmond, you can find Dunloup Falls right along side of the road. There are no signs or parking lots, but there is enough room to pull off along side of the road to photograph the falls.
You can catch a nice view of the falls from the bank along side of the road, looking down on the falls.
But to get the best view you will need to get down to creek level. It’s not very high or steep, but be careful on the rocks here. Once you get down you can walk out onto the rocks to get a nice view. Depending on the water level, you may need to get your feet wet or wear boots/waders in order to get the best views. For all of the photos on this page that were taken at creek level, I was standing in the water wearing boots.
One of the nice things about Dunloup Falls is that it typically has a pretty good flow of water throughout the year. During my October trip to West Virginia many of the waterfalls were dry or had very low flow, but Dunloup Falls had plenty of water. If you’re visiting during the summer or fall and water levels in the area are low, you can probably still find enough water here.
If you have boots or waders, of if you don’t mind getting your feet wet, you can cross the creek and photograph from some different vantage points near the far bank. Be careful, as the water level is deeper in some areas and the rocks are pretty slick.
The ghost town of Thurmond is just a short distance from Dunloup Falls. This was a railroad town, and the railroad next to the creek is still in use. A train came by while I was there and you can see the train in some of my photographs.
Thurmond can also be an interesting place to photograph, with some old buildings and remnants of the town. Part of the town is on property owned by the National Park Service as part of the New River Gorge National River. I didn’t take any photographs in Thurmond, but if that is of interest to you, be sure to stop by after you are done at Dunloup Falls. The falls are also right at the edge of the land of the New River Gorge National River.
When to Go
An ideal time to photograph Dunloup Falls would be a cloudy overcast day, like most other waterfalls. When I was there it was a sunny day and just about an hour before sunset I was able to get decent conditions for photographing the falls.
This can be a popular location, so you may need to wait for people to get out of your shot. There were several other people visiting when I was there, and avoiding people in my shots was a bit of a challenge at times. Mostly, I just had to wait a few minutes. If you’re able to visit at off-peak I times I would recommend it.
How to Get There
The approximate GPS coordinates are: 37.938299, -81.097805
The falls are located just off of Route 25 (Thurmond Road), which runs along the creek. There is no parking lot, but plenty of room to pull off to the side of the road.
Recommended Gear for Photographing Dunloup Falls
You will definitely want a tripod to stabilize your camera and get sharp photos. You’ll also want a polarizing filter to cut down on glare off the water and rocks. You can also experiment with the polarizer to see what effect you get by allowing some glow off the water. For some of my shots I wanted I liked the sun’s nice golden glow on the water. A neutral density filter would be optional, if you want to slow down the shutter speed. I used a polarizer with no ND filter for the falls. I did use a neutral density filter on the cascades upstream.
I’d also recommend waterproof boots or waders, unless the water is warm and you don’t mind getting your feet wet. The are a lot of possible compositions and angles that you can use if you can get out into the water a little bit. Of course, please be careful and stay out of the water above the waterfall.
As far as lenses go, I would recommend a wide angle lens. My Canon 16-35mm f/4 was the only lens I used at this location.