Many landscape photographers enjoy photographing bridges, and if you are looking for a truly unique bridge, Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County, Pennsylvania is well worth a visit. While it’s not very well known, even for people like me who live in Pennsylvania, it is unlike any other bridge that you can visit.
The bridge was originally built in 1882, re-built in 1900 to support heavier locomotives, and destroyed by a tornado in 2003. Part of the bridge still remains, while other towers lie in the valley where they fell.
The state park includes 600 feet of the bridge that has been reinvented as a skywalk with a nice viewing area at the end. You can walk out over the valley and look down at the massive towers that were taken down by the tornado.
Far across the valley, you can see the other end of the bridge still standing. Eleven of the bridge’s twenty towers now lay at the bottom of the valley. They have been left as they fell in order to show the power of the forces of nature.
In this article, we’ll be featuring the Claiborne Pell Bridge (Rhode Island) and the best bridges to photograph in the U.S.
→ See More of The Best Places to Photograph in Pennsylvania
The bridge was once known for being the longest (2,053 feet long) and tallest (301 feet high) railroad bridge in the world and the state park existed well before the tornado damage.
Kinzua Bridge State Park is located 4 miles north of U.S. Route 6 at Mt. Jewett on State Route 3011. It is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, although it is not difficult to access.
The best way to find it is to use the GPS coordinates: latitude 41.75915, longitude -78.58681. That will take you to the parking area. The state park website also says you can use the following address:
1721 Lindholm Road
Mount Jewett, PA 16740-9800
In the parking area, there is an information kiosk with a short video that gives some history of the bridge. With a short walk, you will be at the entrance to the bridge/skywalk.
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The park includes a viewing area near the bridge where you can get a nice view and take photos.
Of course, you can also walk onto the skywalk and take photos from there. There is also a section with a glass floor that allows you to stand on the skywalk and look down to the valley. The photo below was taken from the viewing area at the end of the skywalk.
There is also a trail that leads down into the valley. When I was there in the fall of 2014 I took the short hike down into the valley, but from researching for this article it seems as though much of the valley and that trail is prohibited. I didn’t see any signs and there were other people in the area as well, so that has either changed, the info on the website is outdated, or it isn’t marked very well at the park.
So if you visit please check for yourself ahead of time and watch for signs at the park to indicate which areas are restricted.
The trail is quite steep but well worth the effort. Once down in the valley, the trail leads to a small bridge that crosses the creek and leads right to the base of the towers that have fallen.
From there you can look up some 300 feet to the skywalk and imagine the force that it took to bring down the towers and about half of the bridge.
If you’re in the area of northwestern Pennsylvania I would definitely recommend setting aside some time to visit Kinzua Bridge State Park. Learn more about the park here.
Photographing the Claiborne Pell Bridge (Rhode Island)
The Claiborne Pell Bridge (also known as the Newport Bridge) is a suspension bridge that spans the East Passage of the Narragansett Bay to connect Jamestown and Newport, Rhode Island. The bridge, along with its surroundings, is quite picturesque. There are some convenient locations for photographing on each side of the bridge.
If you are in Newport, Storer Park (marked with a “1” on the map below) offers a nice view. From the park, you can walk out onto a platform and get a nice view of the bridge. The photos on this page were taken at this location.
You will be facing west if you are photographing the bridge from Newport, so sunset is an ideal time. Storer Park is conveniently located close to several popular hotels and resorts. If you are staying near Long Wharf or Thames Street you can probably walk to Storer Park.
You can get an equally good, and perhaps better, view from the other side of the bridge in Jamestown. From Bay View Drive there is a small parking area (marked with a “2” on the map below) with a path that leads to a rocky shore.
You can walk along the shore and find a nice view of the bridge with the rocks in the foreground. Also, from the south of the bridge you can photograph from Jamestown Harbor (marked with a “3” on the map below).
Best Bridges to Photograph in the U.S.
Bridges can be an interesting part of a landscape and serve as the focal point for your photos. Not all bridges are equally scenic, but in this article, we will highlight some of the most picturesque bridges (along with their surroundings) in the United States.
These bridges are spread out across the country, so hopefully, you can find one close to you. Regardless of whether you are photographing these bridges or other bridges, you can at least get some inspiration and ideas.
Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized and most photographed bridges in the world. It spans the one-mile channel the separates the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. One of the great things about the Golden Gate Bridge is that there are several different spots from which you can photograph it, including Fort Point, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Marshall Beach, and Crissy Park, among others.
You can get beautiful photos during the day, capture an amazing sunset, you should photograph at night, or shoot in the fog.
→ See more places to photograph in California
The Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River in New York City and connects Brooklyn and Manhattan. This bridge built in 1883 is an iconic symbol of New York City and a great subject for photos. The pedestrian walkway is a great place to photograph the bridge and its distinctive cables. Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is on the Brooklyn side of the East River, provides an excellent vantage point of the bridge.
→ See more places to photograph in New York
George Washington Bridge
Just a short distance north of the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge spans the Hudson River and connects New Jersey and New York City. It is a double-deck suspension bridge that is especially photogenic at night when it is lit.
While traffic can make driving over the bridge pretty unpleasant, photographing it can be a great experience.
→ See more places to Photograph in New York and New Jersey
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
Outside of Taos, New Mexico the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge towers more than 500 feet above the Rio Grande. The bridge, gorge, and vast landscape surrounding it make an excellent photograph.
→ See more places to photograph in New Mexico
New River Gorge Bridge
The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia, and with good reason. At more than 3,000 feet long and nearly 900 feet above the New River, this bridge is quite impressive. Add in the beautiful surroundings of the gorge and it is an excellent place to photograph.
The National Park Service manages a visitor’s center for the bridge with a scenic overlook. You can also get lower views from the bottom of the gorge.
→ See more places to photograph in West Virginia
The Perrine Bridge is about 1,500 feet in length and nearly 500 feet above the Snake River in Idaho. There are trails along the rim of the canyon that provide excellent views of the area. The Perrine Bridge is also a popular spot for BASE jumping.
→ See more places to photograph in Idaho
The Pennypacker Bridge, also known as the 360 Bridge, is in Austin Texas and crosses over Lake Austin. There is an overlook on the north side that provides a nice vantage point. You can park and hike 5-10 minutes to the overlook.
→ See more places to photograph in Texas
The Astoria-Megler Bridge spans the Columbia River to connect Oregon and Washington. It is over 4 miles long and can be a great subject for photographs.
The Columbia River Gorge is a very popular place for landscape photographers, mostly due to waterfalls, so if you are in the area you may want to consider photographing the bridge as well.
→ See more places to photography in Oregon and Washington
The Mackinac Bridge spans the Straits of Mackinac to connect the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan. At five miles in length it is one of the longest bridges in the U.S. and a great subject for photos.
→ See more places to photograph in Michigan
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You should also consider adding the bridge at Bahia Hondo State Park in the Florida Keys. It is damaged (missing section of the old rail bridge) but is beautiful at sunrise.