Virginia’s mountain ranges are world famous for a number of reasons including the challenging hiking trails, scenic winding drives, and the storied musical history of Appalachia. Whether you are traveling in spring, summer, fall, or winter, the Virginia mountains invite you to come and visit and stay for a while. And make sure to block some downtime on your itinerary. Often times, the most memorable part of staying in the mountains is just sitting still and enjoying the beauty of Virginia’s rolling countryside. Discover everything you can love about the Virginia Mountains.
– THE MOUNTAIN AREAS –
You will often hear Virginians refer to the mountains as the Appalachians, and while this is correct, the Appalachian Range actually runs along most of the eastern North American coast. To be more specific to a region, the Appalachians are further divided into smaller mountain ranges. The two main chains that run through Virginia are the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains.
—STUNNING MOUNTAIN SITES—
There are too many famous mountain areas to list, but these are some destinations that visitors to the Virginia Mountains rave about.
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
This southwest Virginia gem is known for its wild ponies, rugged but beautiful scenery, and the highest point in Virginia, Mount Rogers. Hiking, horse riding, biking, and camping are all popular in the park.
Mabry Mill is considered the most iconic structure on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The site still offers tours of milling, forging, spinning, and other various demonstrations showing traditional Appalachian crafts.
Hikers take a 7 km hike through the mountains to reach McAfee Knob, the most photographed location on the Appalachian Trail. This side offers panoramic views of the Catawba Valley, the Tinker Cliffs, and the Roanoke Valley.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in America and offers countless picturesque views of the mountains and the wide valleys.
Other mountain destinations worth seeing
– DEVELOPMENT TRIPS WITH BEAUTIFUL VIEWS –
Would you like to get a front row seat for the mountain views without having to hike through the exhausting terrain to reach a lookout point? Plan a trip to discover the mountainsides of Virginia behind the wheel.
Back of the kite
Called “The Dragon’s Back” by those who take its turns, Route 16 is a six-hour drive through a hundred miles of southwest Virginia. This is a route preferred by motorcyclists, but anyone who drives the route can appreciate the scenery.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs from the northern Shenandoah Valley to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains and winds through 469 miles of breathtaking mountainous terrain.
Skyline Drive connects to the northern point of the Blue Ridge Parkway and travels another 105 miles along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The views of the Shenandoah Valley are impressive and there are more than 75 lookout points just off the road that allow you to stop and take in it all without hiking several miles. During autumn, the mountains glow with the oranges, reds and yellows of the changing foliage and draw thousands of visitors to the route.
More mountain drives for unbeatable landscapes
—HIKING AND CYCLING PATHS—
The Virginia mountains were made handy for hiking and mountain biking. About a quarter of the Appalachian Trail runs through Virginia, and the numerous trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway invite hikers to wind their way through the shaded, rolling hills and enjoy spectacular views. Intense mountain biking trails like the Spearhead Trails in southwest Virginia pose a challenge to even the most experienced rider.
Popular hiking areas:
- Cold mountain
- Old rag
- Whiteoak Canyon
- Dragon tooth
- Crabtree Falls
- Sharp top
Popular mountain hikes
Popular mountain bike locations:
- Carvins Cove
- Flag rock
- Southern traverse
- George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
- Douthat State Park
Other mountain bike destinations
– THE HISTORY OF MOUNTAIN MUSIC –
Virginia has a thriving music scene, with live performances happening non-stop in venues and clubs across the Commonwealth. The mountains have an especially rich musical heritage, due in part to the legendary story behind the music. Famous musicians like the Carter Family and Dr. Ralph Stanley called home in Virginia and brought the Appalachian Mountain Sounds to their songs that would inspire generations to come. Take a trip along Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, to learn more about the music of Virginia’s mountainous regions.
More Virginia Mountain music
– MOUNTAIN TOWNS –
Dozens of small towns are located in the mountainous regions of Virginia, giving visitors a glimpse into daily life in the mountains.
Roanoke is one of the larger hill towns in Virginia and is home to a variety of great restaurants, hotels, events, and outdoor recreation. The 42 km of biking and hiking trails that make up the Roanoke Valley Greenways provide a pedestrian path to Mill Mountain, where the iconic illuminated star looks down on the beautiful city of Roanoke. The Appalachian Trail passes near town and provides access points to breathtaking mountain peaks such as Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and the Tinker Cliffs.
This small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia has plenty of personality. With the Appalachian Trail running right across the sidewalk of one of the main streets, you know this city has a passion for the mountains and outdoor activities. Hikers stop in town to celebrate the annual Trail Days, and mountain bike enthusiasts head to the Virginia Creeper Trail for a leisurely descent through the Virginia mountains. The quaint but charming town is also not far from Mount Rogers, making it an ideal vacation spot for those who want to get to know the wild ponies.
In the Shenandoah Valley, the city of Luray is located next to Shenandoah National Park. Climbers can access Skyline Drive from the Thornton Gap entrance, less than 10 miles from town. The famous Luray Caverns offer visitors the rare opportunity to see what lies beneath the Virginia Mountains.
More picturesque mountain towns
– WINES, BREWERIES AND MORE –
The Virginia Mountains are home to myriad wineries, breweries, ciders, and distilleries. Sample some impressive drinks as you add one of these quaint drink destinations to your itinerary.
Mountain rose vineyards-Wise
The grapes used in winemaking at Mountainrose Vineyards are grown in the mountains and add delicious, subtle flavors to every glass of wine. However, if you think the wines at Mountainrose are impressive, just wait until you get outside and take in the scenic views of the surrounding mountains.
Sugar Hill Brewing Company– St. Paul
If you’re going to St. Paul to ride the epic ATV systems of the Spearhead Trail, a visit to the Sugar Hill Brewing Company is a must. The craft brewery creates a wide variety of refreshing beers, including a light and easy-to-drink pilsner, several unique IPAs and dark offerings like an Irish dry stout.
Big Fish Cider Co.– Monterey
This microcidery uses locally grown apples and traditional cider-making techniques to create incredible ciders that range from dry and crispy to semi-sweet.
Davis Valley Distillery– Rural retreat
Distilling in America has its roots deep in the Appalachian Mountains, so of course you can still find some of the best distilleries in the country in the Virginia Mountains. Davis Valley Distillery produces several moonshine corn whiskey (in wonderfully classic flavors like apple, peach, and cherry pie) and a traditional grain vodka. They are also currently working on new whiskey and bourbon products.
More in the Blue Ridge Highlands– –More in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains– –More in the Shenandoah Valley– – More in the Virginia Mountains
—FARMS & ORCHARDS—
The cool air and rich soil of the Virginia Mountains make for great fresh produce. These farms and orchards allow you to interact with farm animals, or choose your own selection of apples, peaches, and more.
Graves’ mountain apple orchard-Syria
Pick your own apples from the trees or buy them that have already been picked by farm workers at Graves’ Mountain Orchard. They also sell freshly squeezed cider and apple butter made from their fruits. Pumpkins and gourds are available in autumn.
Seven Springs Alpaca Farm-Lebanon
You probably won’t have too many chances of petting an alpaca in your life, but Seven Springs Alpaca Farm offers a chance to learn more about her by petting her soft fleece coat.
Chile’s peach orchard– Crozet
Nothing beats a perfectly ripe peach picked straight from the tree, and that’s exactly what you can do at Chiles Peach Orchard. There are also strawberries, apples and pumpkins that are grown on the farm seasonally. If you don’t want to pick it yourself, head to the market to buy it fresh, along with local vegetables, jams, groceries, handicrafts, and more. The ice cream parlor and bakery in the market serves delicious treats for those with a sweet tooth.
More Interactive farm tours and You choose orchards
– Places to stay in the mountains –
From simple cabins to sprawling luxury resorts, the Virginia mountains offer accommodation for every visitor.
Each of these resorts offer luxury amenities and year-round activities such as zip lining, hiking and a wide range of spa services.
- Wintergreen Resort – Wintergreen
- Massanutten Resort – McGaheysville
- Bryce Resort – Bayse
- The Omni Homestead Resort – Hot Springs
- Primland Resort – Meadows by Dan
Find more mountain resorts
In addition to large resorts, there are also private cabin rentals in the region that offer you a little peace and quiet during your visit to the mountains.
- Eagle’s Lookout – Winter Green
- Fariss Farms Cabin – Allisonia
- Dancing Bears Cottage – Middlebrook
More huts in the mountains
Discover endless beauty and adventure on an excursion through Virginia’s famous mountain ranges. Where is your favorite destination in the Virginia mountains?
Can’t Miss Mountain Destinations first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.