Best Places to Snap a Photo at West Point

Founded in 1802, the United States Military Academy is the oldest of the country’s five federal service academies and home to rich heritage—beautifully displayed from Thayer Gate to the Old Cadet Chapel. While cadets are certainly busy throughout their years on campus prepping for what lies ahead after graduation, there are many sights worth stopping to snap some photos along the way. Here, we take a look at some of West Point’s most photo-worthy stops:

Image by Austin LaChance USMA 2017

The Plain aka the Parade Field: In the early years of the USMA, the Plain housed the entire academy. Now, it’s the parade field where cadets perform ceremonial parades—often referred to as reviews—and rises about 150 feet above the Hudson River. Word to the wise: the best time to get the whole field is once the entire Corps of Cadets have taken the field. For parents, the best location is the northeast corner of the parade field before cadets pass in review or from the northwest corner immediately after.

All Following Images by Chris Pestel USMA 2003 via

Statues around campus: The phrase "the Long Gray Line" in its simplest definition is the continuum of all graduates and cadets of the United States Military Academy. Many former U.S. presidents and prominent public figures are part of the Long Gray Line and commemorated around campus through monuments, including Dwight D. Eisenhower and former U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur. Often in the fall, MacArthur’s shoes are shined late at night by Cadets on a “spirit mission” or you might see a Cadet spinning the spurs of COL Sedgewick for luck.

Some of the monuments on campus date back to the early 19th century. The oldest include the Cadet Monument (dedicated in 1818) in West Point Cemetery, and Wood’s Monument, an obelisk monument in honor of Colonel Eleazer Derby Wood (1783 to 1814). The newest is the Flight Memorial which sits north of the Lusk Reservoir, dedicated in 1992. Another top pick? The Thayer Monument—located across from the Commandant’s quarters on Washington Road, memorializing the “Father of Military Academy” Sylvanus Thayer. Tucked away, the Kosciuszko Garden is also worth a look, as it offers great views of the drill fields along the Hudson River and south dock area.

Trophy Point: Home to the Battle Monument, one of the largest columns of granite in the world, Trophy point is the former site of West Point graduation ceremonies. Designed by architect Stanford White and dedicated in 1897, Trophy Point gets its name from the numerous displayed pieces of captured artillery spanning from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War.

Lusk Reservoir: Constructed by Captain James L. Lusk in 1895, the reservoir is located next to Michie Stadium (often, but not always, the gates are open and fans can step onto the field and snap a shot). Fun fact: the volume of the reservoir is required knowledge for all plebes at USMA. There are 78 million gallons inside when the water is flowing over the spillway.