After the grit and grime, the best way to cap off an epic outdoor adventure is with a little well-deserved pampering. Southwest Virginia offers the best of both worlds—it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise brimming with adventure, from mountain-swaddled lakes to wilderness-cloaked trails to cloud-splitting summits with plenty of epicurean delights, engaging cultural heritage, and cozy places to spend the night. Here’s just a sample of how to spend an adventurous weekend in Southwest Virginia while still enjoying the good life.
The peaks and valleys of Southwest Virginia embrace the Blue Ridge, Allegheny, and Cumberland mountains in the Appalachian chain, offering numerous opportunities to experience the beautiful sight of waterfalls. Many lie close to the road, allowing easy access, but others require a challenging hike.
It’s easy to understand the popularity of the Cascades in Jefferson National Forest. Several streams, multiple falls, swimming holes, picnic sites, and a four-mile hiking trail present a variety of sensations, like the movements of a symphony. The crescendo comes with the 66-foot waterfall that crashes into a large pool surrounded by 200-foot cliff walls. Wooden stairs and platforms make the falls accessible to many hikers. From Pembroke, take Cascade Drive for 3.6 miles to the parking area.
Tucked into the rolling mountains of Southwest Virginia are miles of sparkling lakes, creeks, and rivers waiting to be explored. Load your boat, stock the tackle box, and paddle your way across the state with our guide to Southwest Virginia’s most memorable adventures on the water.
Flatwater and Fishing
Southwest Virginia’s natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities make it a prime destination for anyone seeking a break from the stresses of daily life. Fall is one of the best time to visit, with the autumn colors on full display. Here are 10 of the most scenic places to take advantage of the incredible outdoor opportunities and enjoy the show.
The mountains and valleys of Southwest Virginia are the birthplace of Appalachian Mountain culture, which features its distinctive blue grass music, fine crafts, and an abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. The small towns of this region are experiencing a renaissance as more visitors seek out their charm and unique attractions—places like The Barter Theatre in Abingdon or the Virginia Creeper Trail. One way to dig into the unique heritage and hospitality of Southwest Virginia is to stay in a historic inn. Here are three exceptional lodging options that will help make your trip unforgettable.
You may find yourself at a loss for words as you reach the top of your first Virginia mountain. Which is OK, because the panoramic view of the surrounding ridges and valleys stretching endlessly toward the horizon won’t require much talking. Seeing as how Virginia is an exceptionally photogenic state, your summit photos will speak for themselves.
Everyone has their favorite way to go camping. Some of us like to rough it, sleeping on a knobby foam pad with only a thin layer of nylon to protect from the bugs and the rain. Others prefer to camp in style, in a fully equipped log cabin made for a weekend of relaxation with every luxury short of cell service. Still many of us opt for something in between, choosing to spend those long summer nights lounging in a pop-up camper after a day spent on the nearby hiking trails or splashing in a local swimming hole. In Southwest Virginia, accommodations for every style of camping are at your fingertips, whether you want go glamping among the Virginia woodlands or do some cowboy camping under the southeastern stars. Explore your option with this list of some of the best campsites in the region.
Sturgis, South Dakota, is what pops into most people’s minds when they think of motorcycle adventures. While this rip roaring party of a motorcycle rally is perhaps the most iconic, it hardly speaks for the lot of ‘em—there are a variety of places and ways to embark on a motorcycle adventure across our grand country.
One of the nice things about running is you can do it just about anywhere. Lace-up a pair of running shoes and start exploring. Of course, it helps when the place to explore is surrounded by tree-covered mountains, scenic waterways, and an abundance of trails. Southwest Virginia has just what runners need for an escape from their every-day routes of sidewalks and running paths. This corner of the state is filled with small towns, historic inns, and natural beauty that make it the perfect option for a weekend getaway. Enjoy morning runs and then spend the rest of the day taking advantage of the sights and amenities that draw people from all over the country—from traditional music and native art to craft breweries and farm-to-table restaurants. From small town races to world-famous trails, Southwest Virginia offers runners an experience they won’t soon forget.
Southwest Virginia has long been an escape for outdoor pursuits. Scenic mountains and small-town charm have traditionally brought people to this corner of the state for things like hiking, camping, mountain biking, and fishing. But now those who like a little more power in their outdoor activities are in for a treat as the region has created a number of off-road ATV trails to create a new way to enjoy the area.