Have you ever wanted to catch a glimpse of wild horses or explore rolling meadows? Grayson Highlands is a bucket list worthy day trip, for the entire family or weekend-long backpackers paradise.
Why is Grayson Highlands bucket list worthy?
The babbling brooks, rhododendrons, far-reaching meadows, rocks, and trees galore cater to an explorer’s dreams. The Grayson Highlands is like no other found in Virginia.
The park was constructed in 1965 with 4,502-acres and was originally named Mount Rogers State Park. Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is now the neighbor that boasts the highest peak in Virginia.
What does Grayson Highlands have to offer?
Anyone up for bouldering? The park is boasted as one of Virginia’s best places to climb! The Highlands Bouldering Area (accessible after a hike from Massie Gap) is one of the main spots to check out along with the popular, Wilson Creek Boulder. The 1.4-mile Listening Rock Trail has many different locations for you to tackle along the way.
Hike a little, climb a little. If you are looking for more information on bouldering here checkout Grayson Highlands Bouldering.
Fishing is abundant within the park’s 10 miles of water which connect to the Blue Ridge Highlands Fishing Trail. Big Wilson Creek contributes 3.5-miles of fishable water, accessible by trekking the 1.78-mile Wilson Creek Trail, starting at Grayson’s main campground, or reachable by the Appalachian Trail, from the Massie Gap parking area. Areas of Big Wilson Creek are labeled as being a stocked trout stream, requiring both a Virginia fishing license and a trout license.
Must-sees in Grayson Highlands
Twin Pinnacles Trail begins at the park’s visitor center and will guide you through a picturesque 1.6-mile loop with stunning views of Wilbur Ridge and Mount Rogers. This hike is a must do!
Another awe-inspiring hike is Cabin Creek Trail. The trail is an effortless 1.8-mile hike that directs you along with fresh rhododendron and mountain laurel. The 25-foot waterfall adds a delightful bonus to the journey.
The Rhododendron trail is my favorite! Come in the first few weeks of June to be blown away by the beauty! I really do enjoy this trail any time of the year though, due to the stunning views and wild ponies roaming the grassland. The trail is one of the best to spot the wild ponies.
I will caution you and let you know that the ponies can be very friendly and may approach you. Park rules do advise you to not pet or feed the horses. The hike can be done in an hour or so, that is why it has become one of my favorite “bang for your buck” adventures.
If you drive around the park and notice a bunch of cars parked in one area…..that is most likely a must see! Grab your camera and check it out! We have found so many cool things by stopping in a crowded area first and then moving along to hidden gems.
Camping and Park Weather at Grayson Highlands
You may reserve your camping spot by going to Reserve America. The park fills up quickly during the summer and fall, so I highly suggest planning your trip ahead of time to grab your perfect location.
Keep in mind, that the park weather changes drastically throughout the day and will differ greatly than lower elevations. The park is very windy during most of the year and the temperature will always be colder than the surrounding areas in the foothills.
- All campsites are dirt or gravel with picnic tables and grills.
- No more than six people per site.
- The horse campground is away from the other campground within the park.
- Each campsite has a fire-ring for cooking and campfires memories.
- Don’t worry about packing in the wood or ice, because firewood and ice are available at the park.
- Quiet hours are between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The use of generators is prohibited.
- Only two cars per campsite.
Tips for Visiting Grayson Highlands:
- Dogs: Dogs are allowed and they must be kept on a 6ft leash at all times. You are required to pick up after your pet.
- The park does have rental gear you can use during bouldering such as crash pads, Chalkbag, and a GHSP Bouldering Brush.
- there is typically a park entrance fee that is less than $10
- Phone: 276-579-7092 (Park office) and 800-933-7275 (Reservation Center)
- Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic (it is against park rules to feed the horses).
- Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
- Sturdy hiking shoes
Directions to Grayson Highlands:
The park is on U.S. 58 between Independence and Damascus and is accessible via I-81 at Exit 45 in Marion (exit 50 Atkins); you will then turn south on Route 16 and travel 33 miles to US 58 to Volney. Turn right onto US 58. Travel eight miles to the park’s entrance on the right.
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.
Pin to Pinterest: