3 Great Places You Must Take Your Camera in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

3 Great Places You Must Take Your Camera in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

 

Blue Ridge Parkway

Winding its way through the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, The Blue Ridge Parkway offers visitors breathtaking views. The Blue Ridge Mountains, famous for their bluish color when seen from a distance, are a nature photographer’s paradise. Mabry Mill, located at mile 176.1, is one of the most photographed spots on the parkway.

Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

Grayson Highlands State Park

Located in the Jefferson National Forest and near the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Grayson Highlands State Park offers stunning mountain views and many hiking trails to explore. The park’s most popular residents, a heard of wild ponies, provide plenty of photo opportunities.

Grayson Highlands State Park

New River

The New River, which is actually an ancient river, flows generally northeastward across the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Whether you choose to bike or hike the New River Trail or spend a lazy day boating on the New, you’ll find yourself surrounded by magnificent scenery. During a float trip a few years ago, I was lucky enough to capture a photo of a black bear club splashing in the river.  The historic dam in Fries, Virginia, built in 1901, provides a beautiful backdrop when the red buds are in bloom in the early spring.

New River

New River

Fries Dam

Mountain Motorcycle Touring in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Mountain Motorcycle Touring in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

The Claw of the Dragon, which loops through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after destinations in the south for motorcycle riders. The scenic 350 mile trail with its tight turns appeals to sport bike riders and touring enthusiasts alike. Accessible from interstates 77 and 81 as a starting point, the drive winds through parts of seven Virginia counties. From the trail’s hub, Wytheville, Virginia, it ventures over to the community of Marion to the west and Galax to the east.

Riders will want to allow adequate time to delight in the journey and stop along many interesting and authentic attractions along the way. After traveling through a heart stopping section of the ride that follows Virginia Route 16, the two-lane road which crosses three mountains between Tazewell and Marion called Back of the Dragon, riders will be ready to stretch their legs and explore the charming town of Marion. The General Francis Marion Hotel is a favorite of riders with its restaurant called The Black Rooster and a bar with 27 beer taps.

Next, continue on to the Wytheville area, where interstates 77 & 81 converge. Riders will enjoy a challenging ride up Big Walker Mountain. As the 16-mile scenic byway makes its way to the top, the rider will be in awe of the breathtaking natural beauty during any seasons. At the top, take a rest at Big Walker Lookout, climb the 100 foot tower, and enjoy a snack in the country store.

The final anchor community for The Claw of the Dragon is Galax, VA, famous for the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention, which is held during the second week of August each year. For a “barbecue fix” riders must stop by The Galax Smokehouse, a local institution since 2003. Their barbecue is the best around and they also sponsor the annual “Smoke On The Mountain, Virginia State Barbecue Championship” which is held in downtown Galax each July.

For additional information about The Claw of the Dragon and all of the interesting things you can see and do as you ride, please visit www.ClawoftheDragon.com.

Explore Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains On Horseback

Explore Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains On Horseback

Appalachian Horseback Riding Adventures, located in Grayson County VA, offers guided horseback riding trips in Mt. Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak, as well as Pine Mountain. There are Guided 2 Hour, 1/2 Day, or All Day rides, as well as overnight camping trips available. They have horses for riders of all experience levels, from beginner to advanced. Their schedules are available throughout the year and they will tailor them for your convenience.

Experience the breathtaking scenery of Grayson County’s mountains, with 365 degree views, or the amazing Wild Ponies of the Grayson Highlands. If you have a love for horses, adventure, mountain views, peace and tranquility, you will love Appalachian Horseback Riding Adventures! Check out their website for additional information.  https://ahra.webs.com/

The Six-String Soldiers To Perform At HoustonFest in Galax, VA — June 8 & 9, 2018!

The Six-String Soldiers To Perform At HoustonFest in Galax, VA — June 8 & 9, 2018!

The Six-String Soldiers band is a five-member acoustic group of Active-Duty U.S. Army Soldiers performing Americana, folk, country, bluegrass, and Irish music.  Through audience interaction and story telling, the Six-String Soldiers offers one of the most personal musical experiences found in the United States Army.  Come see them live June 8 & 9, 2018 at HoustonFest in Galax, VA.  Event information can be found at https://www.houstonfestgalax.com/

Valentine’s Dinner At The Twisted Fork Bistro — Galax, Virginia

Valentine’s Dinner At The Twisted Fork Bistro — Galax, Virginia

Love is in the air!  Make your dinner reservation for Valentine’s Day 2018!

The Twisted Fork Bistro
Wednesday, February 14, 5 PM – 9 PM
110 W Oldtown St, Galax, Virginia 24333
(276) 238-3313
https://www.twistedforkva.com/

HoustonFest – June 8 & 9, 2018 – Galax, Virginia

HoustonFest – June 8 & 9, 2018 – Galax, Virginia

HoustonFest is a music festival held yearly in Galax VA in honor of a local talented musician, Houston Caldwell, who passed away in 2010. With multiple regional and national bands that range in style from Bluegrass to Old Time playing on only three stages, Houstonfest packs a lot of entertainment into a weekend. Artisans from Galax and the surrounding area demonstrate and sell their crafts, while food vendors serve up local dishes. The festival raises money for scholarships that go to musical training and education for youth.

This year’s lineup includes a multitude of talented performers. One of my favorites, thirteen year old Presley Barker of ShadowGrass, has been playing acoustic guitar for six years and has emerged as an astonishingly gifted flat-picker. Growing up in the mountains of North Carolina and listening to Doc Watson on the radio inspired Presley to begin picking fiddle tunes and bluegrass music.

Houstonfest is being held June 8 – 9, 2018 at Felts Park in Galax, VA. Please visit https://www.houstonfestgalax.com/ for additional information.  Lodging information can be found at https://www.graysoncountyva.com/vacation-homes

Wine & Chocolate in the VA Blue Ridge Mountains

Wine & Chocolate in the VA Blue Ridge Mountains

Chateau Morrisette is a third generation winery in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During their Wine & Chocolate Saturday being held on February 10th from 12 – 2 pm or 4 – 6 pm, you can indulge in five courses of their select wines paired with chocolates handcrafted by their culinary team and regional chocolatiers. Chateau Morrisette’s winemaker, Brian Smythe, will interpret the pairings. Course interludes of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie let you explore both sweet and savory pairings.

Advance reservations and pre-payment required. $48 per person includes wines, pairings, taxes, and gratuities. Event is held in the William Morrisette Room, above the Tasting Room. Guests should plan to check in at least 15 minutes early.

Chateau Morrisette Winery
291 Winery Road SW
Floyd, VA 24091
(540) 593-3647

The Best Fishing Spots in the VA Blue Ridge Highlands

The Best Fishing Spots in the VA Blue Ridge Highlands

Three of the most highly sought after destinations for anglers from all over the country can be found in the Blue Ridge Highlands of Virginia. Whether you’re looking to catch some wild trout or you’ve got your sights on hooking a trophy, you won’t be disappointed with our favorite fishing spots!

1)  The New River

Contrary to its name, The New River is the oldest river on the North American continent and one of the few rivers to flow northward. The New is home to every major freshwater game fish in the state of VA, from walleye to trophy smallmouth bass and musky, black crappie and redbreast sunfish. The warm waters of the New River flow through Grayson County and offers resourceful anglers the opportunity to catch the smallmouth bass of a lifetime. Fast water and large rock outcroppings are a feature of the New River, creating the perfect habitat for big smallmouth bass and flathead catfish. Several lazy, slow stretches also abound, where you can fish for rock bass near grass beds. The slow waters near the dams along the river will yield big flathead and channel catfish, as well as walleye and smallmouth bass.

2)  Big Wilson Creek

Accessible by way of the Mount Rogers Recreation Area in Grayson County, Big Wilson Creek is referred to as one of Virginia’s finest stocked mountain trout streams. In the upper most sections of Big Wilson, you’ll be treated to a plethora of brook, brown, and wild rainbow trout that hide in the many deep pools which are protected by huge boulders. Spring is the ideal season for a trip to Big Wilson Creek. March is one of the best months to fish this stream and the most effective method is dry fishing.

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.

3)  Whitetop Laurel Creek

One of Virginia’s most beautiful streams, Whitetop Laurel Creek, is considered one of the best trout streams in the entire Southeast. For anglers, the place to begin on Whitetop is the 6 miles of stream below Konnarock beginning at Creek Junction, near the convergence of Whitetop and Green Cove Creek. This marks the beginning of a 6-mile artificial only stretch where all trout smaller than 12 inches must be released. This stretch can be accessed by way of Creek Junction Road, just east of Damascus. Locals say that prime time on Whitetop is during the spring months, when feeding trout will appear for just about any type of dry fly.

From I-81 south take exit 29 (Glade Spring) to 91 east towards Damascus, in Damascus take 58 east. Whitetop Laurel flows along 58 east, where it can be accessed easily. Signs to the parking areas and the Virginia Creeper Trail are along 58 east. Sections of Whitetop Laurel Creek that are not adjacent to 58 east are easily accessed from the Virginia Creeper Trail. Parking areas have maps and trail information on display.

For Virginia Licensing Requirements, go to:

https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/regulations/licenses.asp

 

 

 

The Luthier Craft Continues in The VA Blue Ridge Highlands

The Luthier Craft Continues in The VA Blue Ridge Highlands

A luthier is someone who builds or repairs stringed musical instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box such as the violin or classical guitar. Wayne Henderson, a famous luthier and blue grass musician, lives in the Blue Ridge Highlands of Virginia. Wayne specializes in the crafting of handmade, custom acoustic guitars. His famous clients include: Eric Clapton, Tommy Emmanuel, Doc Watson, Peter Rowan, and Gillian Welch. He produces about 20 instruments a year, mostly guitars; however he is almost as well-known for the mandolins he has made. His good friend, Doc Watson says, “That Henderson mandolin is as good as any I’ve had my hands on. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve picked up some good ones.”

Luthiers, keepers of tradition and innovators, also teach string-instrument making, either through apprenticeship or formal classroom instruction. Wayne is proudly passing his craft down to daughter, Jayne Henderson. Jayne didn’t plan on becoming a luthier. She earned a degree in environmental law and was facing hefty student loan debt when she saw the going rate for her Dad’s guitars secondhand on eBay. She asked him to make her a guitar that she could sell to pay off her loans, but Wayne insisted that she make it herself. After building that first guitar, she fell in love with the craft and now spends a couple of weeks every month building instruments in her Dad’s workshop and already has a four-year waiting list for her instruments.

You can check out Jayne’s interview with the Richmond Times here:  https://youtu.be/OfcM9l_Bkq0

An Evening with Jayne Henderson and Wayne Henderson is being held at The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, VA on Friday, January 26 at 7pm. It will be a delightful evening of stories and music. Jayne will give a talk on her road to becoming a luthier, learning from her father Wayne, and the innovations in eco-sustainability she is bringing to the craft. She will also present a brief demonstration showing some of the tools, woods, and techniques she uses. After the talk and demo, Wayne will give a short performance playing some of Jayne’s instruments for the audience. This program is inspired by the current special exhibit The Luthier’s Craft: Instrument Making Traditions of the Blue Ridge. Both Jayne Henderson and Wayne Henderson are featured in this exhibit.

An Evening with Jayne Henderson and Wayne Henderson is free and open to the public, though there is a suggested donation of $5. Seating is limited so it is necessary to RSVP to attend the event.

MUSEUM: 520 Birthplace of
Country Music Way
Bristol, VA 24201
(423) 573-1927
info@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org

 

Craft Beer & Brick Oven Pizza in The VA Blue Ridge Highlands

Craft Beer & Brick Oven Pizza in The VA Blue Ridge Highlands

If you’re a fan of craft beer and wood-fired brick-oven pizza, you must visit Creek Bottom Brewing Company.  Creek Bottom produces six year round beers and multiple seasonal ales from their attached brewery in their Galax, VA location. The restaurant focuses on wood-fired brick-oven pizza, smoked wings, handcrafted sandwiches & awesome appetizers. Order up a brew from the 22 taps. Customers can also choose from plenty of craft beers from other breweries. CBB has lots of special events throughout the week, like Team Trivia, Open Mic, Bluegrass Jams & Tap Takeovers from various breweries. There is live music most every weekend featuring some fantastic talent. Creek Bottom Brewing Company has created a destination where locals and travelers alike can enjoy the local heritage through their handcrafted creations & a robust selection of events.

307 North Meadow Street
Galax, Virginia 24333

Phone: 276-236-2337 (BEER)