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Grayson Highlands State Park

829 Grayson Highland Ln., Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363; Phone: 276-579-7092; Email: GraysonHighlands@dcr.virginia.gov

Location of Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia

About this park ...

Google map thumbnail showing Grayson Highlands State Park's location Click for Grayson Highlands State Park Forecast
Latitude, 36.628322. Longitude, -81.496889.

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General Information

Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia's two highest mountains, Grayson Highlands offers scenic views of alpine-like peaks more than 5,000 feet high. Facilities include a visitor center, campgrounds, and hiking trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks. Scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with electric and water hookups, stables and parking for trailers are available. The park provides year-round access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.

Hours

8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Location

The park is on U.S. 58 midway between Independence and Damascus and is reached from I-81 at Exit 45 in Marion; turn south on Route 16 and travel 33 miles to US 58 in the community of Volney. Turn right onto US 58. Travel eight miles to the park's entrance. Latitude, 36.628322. Longitude, -81.496889.

From I-77, take Hillsville Exit 14 to U.S. 58. Travel west on U.S. 58, 40 miles to Volney. Turn left to stay on U.S. 58 and go eight miles to the park entrance.

Its address is 829 Grayson Highland Lane, Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363; Latitude, 36.628322. Longitude, -81.496889.

Drive Time: Northern Va., 6.5 hours; Richmond, 5.5 hours; Tidewater, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, 7.5 hours; Roanoke, 2.5 hours; Winston-Salem, 1.5 hours; Charlotte, 1.5 hours; Raleigh, 4 hours

Park Size

4,522 acres. Various elevation: Entrance - 3,698 feet; Visitor Center - 4,953 feet; Little Pinnacle - 5,089 feet.

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Cabins, camping

OVERNIGHT FACILITIES:

thumbnail picture of campsite at Grayson Highlands State Park.Camping and a camping lodge (bunkhouse). For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online or call 1-800-933-PARK. Rental rates for cabins and camping vary by season, dwelling and park. You might want to read details regarding reservation cancellation and transfer policies. A fee is charged per pet per night for overnight stays in the bunkhouse.

Camping

Total sites of each type: E/W, 37. STD, 32. HorseE/W, 23. CovStall, 38. OpnStall, 29. RV50-EW, 4. GrpTentStd (GT1), 1. CampLodge, 1.

Site type:

E/W - Electric and water sites; various equipment. Up to 40 feet. No horses allowed.

STD - Standard campsites; no hookups; various equipment. Up to 40 feet. One tent site is universally accessible. No horses allowed.

HorseE/W - Stable area campsites; electric and water hookups; various equipment. Up to 40 feet. Horses are allowed only in this area, which is designated for equestrian campers except when the area is used for primitive camping March through April and in November when this area only is open for camping.

CovStall - Covered stalls for horses; stable area; all are tie-in standing stalls; each is approximately 4' x 10'; park provides sawdust for stalls. Bring your own hay bag and water bucket.

OpnStall - Open horse stalls, about 5 x 8 feet; some amenities in stalls. Bring your own hay bag and water bucket.

GrpTentStd - Please see below for details.

Total campsites: 96

  • All campsites are dirt/gravel with picnic tables and grills at each site. Maximum of six campers per site.
  • Most sites are wooded; one site is universally accessible near bathhouse.
  • The horse campground is far from the park's other campgrounds.
  • Each site has a fire-ring for cooking and campfires.
  • Firewood and ice are available at the park.
  • Please deposit all trash in the dumpster as you exit the campground. Recycling containers are next to the dumpster.
  • No more than two vehicles and a camping unit are allowed per campsite. A parking fee will be charged for each additional vehicle.
  • There's additional parking beside and across from the Country Store. Click here for park fees.
  • Guests can visit overnight campers but must leave the park by 10 p.m.; no one is to roam around the park campground after 10 p.m.

Note: Primitive camping is centralized in stable area campground (HorseE/W) during March and April and in November; there are pit toilets only, and water is unavailable at this location. Drinking water is available in the park office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and from an outside spigot after hours. Camping fees are lower during the primitive camping season.

Group Camping: Grayson Highlands has a group camping area (GrpTentStd).

  • This group camping area accommodates up to 35 campers. Sites have no water or electric hook-ups. No minimum number of campers to be considered a group.
  • A standard bathhouse is about 500 feet away, and water is available within 50 feet of the campground. Toilets are within 100 feet. Parking is available beside the camp store or a lot across from the store - campers will have to walk between 20 and 40 yards to reach the camping area. Tents only are permitted.
  • The group camping area is between the Country Store and the turn-off loop to the regular campground. The group area has five large tent pads, five picnic tables and three fire rings. Click here for rental fees.
  • Groups may apply at the park for a special use permit allowing use of the amphitheater and a large fire ring. (This might prove useful for special ceremonies, such as those undertaken by scout groups.) There is a small processing fee for the permit, which must be approved two weeks beforehand. The permit must be arranged through the park.
  • The cancellation fee for group camping is higher than that for other camping.

Camping Lodge (bunkhouse) - Two-night minimum, no weekly requirement. This is not a full service lodge; it is a camping facility. The two-room trailer has seven bunk beds, a refrigerator, a microwave, a coffeepot, and heating and air conditioning. Just outside is a deck with two picnic tables and a charcoal grill. Cooking and smoking are not permitted inside the lodge. Four vehicles are permitted with rental of the lodge; all other vehicles must pay the park's daily parking fee. Because of the lodge's location, parking there is limited to three vehicles. Other vehicles may be parked across from the Country Store. This facility is not sold 11 months in advance; it goes online in January each year. It's available only during camping season, from May 1 to Oct 31 annually. Check-in is 3 p.m., and check-out is 10 a.m.

The transfer deadline policy and cancellation and pet fees are the same as those for cabins.

  • Linens are not provided. Guests must bring their own linens and pillows.
  • Maximum 14 people allowed in bunkhouse. Guests are responsible for any damage.
  • No bathroom, kitchen or fireplace.
  • No cable hookup.
  • Electrical outlets are available but limited to 50 amp service.
  • No extra bed rentals.
  • The camping lodge is located back of upper loop campground.
  • Camping lodge guests use the upper loop bathhouse in campground.

Recreation

TRAILS

Hiking, bicycle trails (mountain bikes only), horse trails, self-guided trails.

Bridle trails: More than nine miles of bridle paths wander through the park. These paths also lead to bridle trails in Jefferson National Forest. Parking facilities for horse trailers and overnight stables are available at the park. The park does not provide horses for trail rides.

Hiking trails: The park has 13 hiking trails which vary from .5 to just over 2 miles in length. These trails lead to panoramic vistas, scenic waterfalls and a 200 year old pioneer cabin. The park also offers access to the Appalachian Trail and trails in the surrounding Jefferson National Forest. Details about the park's trails are listed below.

There are several nearby backpacker shuttle services: Creeper Trail Bike Rental and Shuttle, Whitetop, Va., (276) 388-3056; Mount Rogers Outfitters in Damascus, Va., (276) 475-5416; Sundog Outfitter, Damascus, Va., (866) 515-3441.

Bike rentals: Blue Blaze Bike and Shuttle Service, toll-free (800) 475-5095; The Bike Station, toll-free (866) 475-3629; Adventure Damascus Bicycles, toll-free (888) 595-BIKE (2453); J C's Outdoors Bike Shop, toll-free (866) 475-5727; Creeper Trail Bike Rental and Shuttle, Whitetop, Va., (276) 388-3056.

Grayson Highlands State Park Trails

Note: A detailed map of all trails in the Mount Rogers area can be purchased at the park office.

Key: F = Foot Traffic; H = Horseback Riding; B = Mountain Bikes; X = Cross Country Skiing

  • Appalachian Spur Trail: mileage .8; F
  • Appalachian Trail: mileage (within park) 2.5; F
  • Rhododendron Trail: mileage 1.0; F, X
  • Cabin Creek Trail: mileage 1.8 loop; F
  • Big Pinnacle Trail: mileage 0.4; F
  • Twin Pinnacles Trail: mileage 1.6; F
  • Listening Rock Trail: mileage 1.4 loop; F
  • Haw Flats Trail: mileage .7 loop; F
  • Split Rock Trail: mileage .3 loop; F
  • Wilson Creek Trail: mileage 1.8; F
  • Wilburn Branch Trail: mileage 2.3; F, B
  • Stampers Branch Trail: mileage 1.7; F
  • Rock House Ridge Trail: mileage 1.3 loop; F
  • Horse Trail (east): mileage 3.2; H, F, B, X
  • Horse Trail (north): mileage 2.0; H, F, X
  • Seed Orchard Road: mileage 1.2; H, F, B, X
  • Old Upchurch Road: mileage 3.3; H, F, B, X

Backpacking

Grayson Highlands provides access to the Appalachian Trail (AT), hence backpacking is a popular activity. In fact, the park averages 4,000 backpackers a year. Weather at the park can be harsh so those planning to access the AT from the park should be familiar with its severe weather policy and associated procedures. Here are a few links that will help.

Wild Ponies

Hikers on the highlands trails are likely to encounter wild ponies. In 1974, when the land changed from private to public ownership and cattle were removed, ponies were introduced to the park to prevent reforestation of the highland balds. The pony herd is managed by the Wilburn Ridge Pony Association. During fall roundups of ponies for an auction held in conjunction with Grayson Highland’s annual Fall Festival, association members check the herd for health problems.

Visitors should not approach, feed or pet the ponies. They bite and kick when they feel threatened, and human food is bad for them.

Bouldering

Grayson Highlands is known as the best bouldering site in Virginia. On the park’s mountainous slopes are four main boulder fields and three smaller fields with more than 700 named climbing routes, also known as problems. The park’s geology, which is unique in the Southeast, makes it well-suited to bouldering. Climbers will find rhyolite at higher elevations as well as a metaconglomerate in a quartzite matrix elsewhere in the park. These provide steep faces with angular features including rails, flakes and edges that ensure bouldering opportunities for climbers of all skill levels.

Summer weather at the park is ideal for bouldering. Several boulder fields have an elevation of more than 4,900 feet, with temperatures in the 70s and cool breezes that allow climbing throughout summer.

The park welcomes climbers to enjoy bouldering opportunities but requires that Leave No Trace ethics be followed. Ropes and the chipping of rocks are not allowed. Climbing is inherently dangerous; all safety precautions should be taken. Stop by the contact station or office to register as a climber in case of emergency.

The park has two crash pads available for rent. It also sells chalk, chalk bags, cleaning brushes and the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook. For more information about the bouldering opportunities at Grayson Highlands, visit the Mountain Project.

Va. Outdoors sign

Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of Grayson Highlands' trails.

SWIMMING

None at this park.

FISHING, BOATING

Nearly 10 miles of wild trout streams lie within Grayson Highlands State Park. Cool mountain streams offer anglers native brook and wild rainbow trout as well as breathtaking scenery. All the streams in the park are Special Regulation Wildlife Trout Streams which require the use of single hooks and artificial lures, and all trout less than nine inches long must be released unharmed. All required state fishing licenses and creel limits apply to fishing within the park. A National Forest Permit is required when fishing national forest property, which borders the park along Wilson Creek.

Guided canoe trips are offered from Memorial Day through Labor Day, depending on the water level of the river. The trips can accommodate groups of from six to 14. The trip takes place on the New River through "a land that time forgot." Take in cliffs, shaded pastures, lush woodlands and crisp, clear water. It's a six-mile trek and takes about six hours. Participants should bring lunch, drinking water and closed-toe shoes.

Big Wilson Creek, along the northeastern boundary of the park, offers 3.5 miles of fishable waters. From its headwaters to ¼-mile below it confluence with Little Wilson Creek, the stream is designated a "Special Regulation Wild Trout Stream." A sign marks the area. Below this point, the creek is designated a "Stocked Trout Stream" and requires a trout license in addition to the state fishing license. You can reach the creek via the Appalachian Trail at Massie Gap or by taking the Big Wilson Creek Trail from the main campground.

Wilburn Branch, near the central area of the park, provides 1.8 miles of fishable waters and is designated a "Special Regulation Wild Trout Stream." It can be accessed via the Stamper's Branch or Upchurch Road trail.

Mill Creek, which has 1.1 miles of fishable waters, is the park's southeastern corner. It too is a "Special Regulation Wild Trout Stream." Get there by taking Highway 58 East from the park's entrance, then turning left on SR 742 (Mill Creek Rd.). Access to the park's portion of the creek is on the left near a grove of white pines, about half a mile down Mill Creek Rd.

Quebec Branch, in the park's northern region, has 1.1 miles of fishable waters, all of which is designated a "Special Regulation Wild Trout Stream." This waterway sometimes has low water. Access it from the Appalachian Trail at Massie Gap or by taking the Seed Orchard Road Trail from Hickory Ridge Campground.

Cabin Creek of the park's western area has 2.1 miles of fishable water, all of which is designated a Special Regulation Wild Trout Stream. Wild rainbow and native brook trout inhabit the waters here; it's not stocked. Take the Cabin Creek Trail at Massie Gap to get there.

HORSES

Horse trails and horse camping facilities are available here, but no horses are for rent. See the park's camping description for information about overnight horse facilities here. State law requires that visitors carry a copy of a negative Coggins report with each horse brought to the park.

Park Trail Guide

Click here for the park's trail guide.

Nearby Attractions

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 33.4-mile multi-use trail beginning in Whitetop, Va., about 10 miles from the park. The trail ends in Abingdon, Va. Because of its ease of ride, beautiful scenery and cool mountain air, it is very popular with bicyclists of all skill levels. You can learn more about area offerings by visiting the Southwest Virginia Heritage Guide.

Cities nearby: Two to three hours from Roanoke, Va., Charlotte, N.C., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Charleston, W. Va.; and about one and a half hours from Boone, N.C., Blacksburg, Va., Beckley, W.Va., and Bristol, Va.

Click here to learn about other B&Bs and inns in Grayson County.

Picnic Shelters

The picnic area is next to a rebuilt homestead site, complete with two log cabins, a spring-house and a cane mill. Picnic facilities include drinking water, grills and restrooms. Picnic shelters are available by reservation on a first-come, first-served basis by calling the Customer Service Center at 1-800-933-PARK.

Grayson Highlands State Park Picnic Shelters

Two shelters are available for rent. They can be rented from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (all day). Click here for park fees.

Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee.

Amenities: Both shelters have grill, picnic tables and access to restroom.

Shelter one: Located in main picnic area. A water fountain and electric hookup is available at the shelter. Shelter can accommodate 100 people under the shelter. Additional seating is available around the shelter.

Shelter two: Located next to homestead cabin. Shelter is referred to as The Barn. No adjacent parking is available; users must park only in designated areas. Shelter can accommodate 100 people under the shelter. Seating for another 100 people around the shelter can be arranged but must be requested through a special-use permit.

Meeting Space and Facilities

MEETING FACILITIES

None at this park, but the park is a popular wedding spot.

VISITOR CENTER, GIFT SHOP

The visitor center is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. After Labor Day through the end of September, it's open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. By the summit of Haw Orchard Mountain, the center has exhibits on pioneer life and plant and animal life of the area. The visitor center also houses the Mountain Crafts Shop, which features crafts made by local artisans.

RESTAURANT

None in park. The Country Store has candy, chips, drinks, ice cream and camping supplies.

Restaurants: Buckaroo's Grille, Piney Creek, N.C., (336) 359-2825; Country House, Lansing, N.C., (336) 384-4678; Log House, Volney, Va., (276) 579-4440; Martha Washington Inn and Restaurant (276) 628-3161, Abingdon, Va.; Shatley Springs Inn, (336) 982-2236, Jefferson, N.C.; Pie on the Mountain, (336) 384-8008, Lansing, N.C.

General stores: Fox Creek General Store, (276) 579-6033; Osborne's Store, (276) 579-4602; Whitetop Food and Gas, (276) 388-3465

LAUNDRY

Closest facility is 12 miles from park in Lansing or 24 miles to Independence, Va.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

None at this park.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The park offers backpacking, map and compass skills, photography and fly fishing programs. Click here for details. Click here to learn about popular wedding settings at the park.

Other Info

ACCESSIBILITY

  • Tent site, upper loop of campground
  • universally accessible toilet and shower at upper loop bathhouse
  • Shelter one, picnic area
  • Buzzard Rock Overlook
  • Picnic area at Buzzard Rock Overlook
  • Visitor center, parking in back of center, bathrooms
  • Office bathrooms
  • Although motorized vehicles are not permitted on park trails, electric wheelchairs and electric scooters that meet the federal definition for wheelchairs are allowed to enable people with disabilities to use the trails.

NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS

Guided hikes day and evening (includes some after dark); evening amphitheater programs - bluegrass and old time music, storytelling, etc.; cultural demonstrations - basket weaving, spinning, clogging, etc.; flora and fauna programs; the Junior Ranger Program; Adventure Ranger Program. Click here to view all parks' events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.

The Junior Ranger Program showcases the park’s historical, geological, wild ponies, and cultural and natural resources. The program is for children ages 6-12 years and features music, nature activities and crafts. The program is normally held in July. The Adventure Ranger Program for children 10-17 is three days, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and focuses on environmental education including hiking, backpacking, canoeing, orienteering and other local adventure activities. Fees apply.

Festivals in the Park (in picnic area)

Events Nearby

CONCESSIONS

  • Country Store carries clothing, snacks, drinks and camping supplies, The store is open mid-May through mid-October. Days and hours vary throughout the season, call park office for details 276-579-7092
  • Visitor Center contains exhibits about mountain life and the history of the area in addition to a gift shop with clothing, jewelry, books and other items. The Visitor Center is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. After Labor Day through mid-October, it is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
  • Grayson Highlands Mountain Craft Gallery carries handmade crafts by local artisans. The gallery is located in the Visitor Center and is open the same hours and days as the Visitor Center.

HISTORY

Grayson Highlands, originally named Mount Rogers State Park, was established in 1965. The community overwhelmingly supported this park, beginning with a fund-raising effort for land acquisition and continuing with the donation of items on exhibit in the visitor center. Many areas in the park are named after early settlers. Massie Gap takes its name from Lee Massey, who lived in the gap with his wife and five children in the late 1800s and early 1900s. At that time, the present park area was thinly settled by people who managed to live off the land. They made, grew or gathered most of their necessities.

Wilburn Ridge is named after the famed hunter Wilburn Waters. His reputation as a bear hunter and wolf trapper made him renowned throughout the region.

FRIENDS GROUP

Click here to learn about Friends of Grayson Highlands State Park, a nonprofit group of volunteers dedicated to supporting the park. Enjoy the photos and learn about current weather at the park.

MASTER PLAN

Master plans must be written for parks before they're built. The plans are updated at least once every five years thereafter. The plans cover the size, types, infrastructure and locations of facilities as well as the site's special features and resources. Three public meetings are held during the initial development of each plan. Click here for this park's master plan.

WILDLIFE

Virginia State Parks are great places to discover and reconnect with the wild world. Bring a camera and share your captures with the world. But please don't disturb or get too close to the animals. The park is, after all, their home. Here are a few recent natural encounters others have had at Grayson Highlands State Park.

View all wildlife encounter photos from Grayson Highlands State Park.

 

Upcoming Events

 
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Articles

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Got rocks? Grayson Highlands sure does! And four other top reasons to visit this spectacular Virginia State Park soon!
I believe the best things in life come from nature, and when it is food, it is extra special! Especially the pick all you want blueberries at a Virginia State Park! This is part 3 from our featured park of the month: Grayson Highlands State Park.

At a Glance

The pictographs directly below show park offerings. Mouse-over the image for a short text description or click here to view a legend in which each pictograph's meaning is expressed.
AmphitheaterBikingCamp Store/Gift ShopCampground, Camping Lodges **, Group CampingDump StationEquestrianEquestrianHikingNature/Cultural Programs, Ranger station, Visitor CenterParking feePicnic Shelter Rentals, Picnic TablesPlaygroundsRecyclingRestroomsShoreShowersUniversally Accessible
Amphitheater, Biking, Camp Store/Gift Shop, Campground, Camping Lodges **, Group Camping, Dump Station, Equestrian, Equestrian, Hiking, Nature/Cultural Programs, Ranger station, Visitor Center, Parking fee, Picnic Shelter Rentals, Picnic Tables, Playgrounds, Recycling, Restrooms, Shore, Showers, Universally Accessible