Wine & Chocolate at Chateau Morrisette Winery — Floyd, VA

Wine & Chocolate at Chateau Morrisette Winery — Floyd, VA

Chateau Morrisette is a third generation winery in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During their Wine & Chocolate event held February 16th & 17th, 2019, you can indulge in six courses of their select wines paired with chocolates handcrafted by local chocolatier Cocoa Mia.  Course interludes of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie let you explore both sweet and savory pairings.  Saturday seatings at 1p and 5p; Sunday seating at 2p.

Prepaid reservations required. $50 per person includes wines, pairings, taxes, and gratuities.  Please visit their website for additional information:  https://www.thedogs.com/Events/Calendar-of-Events

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

The Top 5 Things to Do in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

The Top 5 Things to Do in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

1) Explore the New River

Flowing 160 miles through Virginia, the New River is a true recreation destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The New River is recognized as the second oldest river in the world, (the Nile in Egypt is the first). Its headwaters begin near Blowing Rock, NC and is one of the few rivers in North America that flows northerly. If you’re looking for a peaceful float trip on the water, plan a trip to the New River to venture into some of Virginia’s most beautiful waterfront acreage. The warm waters of the New River 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) Go for a Bike Ride

Biking On The New River Trail

The New River Trail parallels 39 miles of the New River. Bikers will experience miles of beautiful scenery along the trail.  The trail contains two tunnels:  135 feet and 193 feet long, and three major bridges, Hiawasee-951 feet, Ivanhoe-670 feet, and Fries Junction-1,089 feet.  The trail is relatively flat and appropriate for all skill levels. Visit New River Trail State Park for additional information.

3) Climb a Mountain

Mount Rogers is the highest natural point in Virginia, with a summit elevation of 5,729 feet above mean sea level.  The Appalachian Trail passes within a half mile of the summit, making it especially popular with hikers.  You may come upon the residents of Mt. Rogers, a herd of more than 100 wild ponies that roam free.

4) Take in a Show

Grayson County VA is rich in musical history and the legacy continues today.  Fries is a proud affiliate of The Crooked Road, a 330 mile driving trail through the mountains of Southwest Virginia that connects nine major venues and over 60 affiliated venues and festivals that visitors can enjoy every day of the year.  Jam sessions can be enjoyed at The Fries Community Center every Thursday night from 6:30 to 9:00 PM.  The world’s oldest and largest Old Fiddler’s Convention is held in Galax, VA the second week of August annually.  Numerous other towns and communities also have music festivals throughout the year.

5) Savor the Local Cuisine

Award winning barbecue can be enjoyed at The Galax Smokehouse, a local institution in Galax VA. See if you can guess the secret ingredient in their delicious banana pudding.  The Smoke On The Mountain Barbecue Championship is held in July each year.

First Day Hike in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

First Day Hike in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Start 2019 off on a healthy track with a hike on New Year’s Day. An interpretive ranger will be your guide on the Rhododendron Trail as it meanders along the rocks and mountain meadows, or balds, of Wilburn Ridge. The views along the trail are breath taking with snowcapped mountains, and you may even see the local residents, the wild ponies, of Grayson Highlands. This moderate hike will be a total of 2 miles, so be sure to dress warmly, as the highlands experience particularly cold, windy, and sometimes snowy weather during the winter months. You may want to bring a water bottle, snacks, binoculars, a camera, your family, and/or your dog. Parking fees are waived for the day. The first 100 visitors will receive a First Day Hikes bumper sticker. As an added enticement, you can participate in the “New Year Challenge” contest. For additional information please see: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/blog/virginia-state-parks-first-day-hikes-2019

Date: 01/01/19

Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Parking: Massie Gap Parking Area

About Grayson Highlands

Located 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. The park hosts a number of outdoor activities including hiking, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, and backpacking. 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.

Park Hours

8 a.m. – 10 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 24 miles to US 58 in the community of Volney. Turn right onto US 58. Travel eight miles to the park’s entrance. Latitude, 26.628322. 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.

The address of the park 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, NC, 1.5 hours; Charlotte, 1.5 hours; Raleigh, 4 hours

Park Size

4,502 acres. Various elevation: Entrance – 3,698 feet; Visitor Center – 4,953 feet; Little Pinacle – 5,089 feet.

Dust off your dancing shoes! The 83rd Annual Galax Fiddler’s Convention begins 08-06-18!

Dust off your dancing shoes! The 83rd Annual Galax Fiddler’s Convention begins 08-06-18!

The 83rd Annual Fiddler’s Convention is being held August 6 – 11, 2018 in Galax, VA.

During the 2nd week of August of each year the City of Galax has the world tapping its feet as the Old Fiddlers’ Convention takes place in Felts Park. The convention is presented by the Galax Moose Lodge #733.

Musicians and fans from around the world travel to Galax to perform and hear the music that defines the sound of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Galax has been designated the Worlds Capital of Old time Mountain Music and is proud to be identified as hosting the worlds oldest and largest fiddlers convention which has taken place consistently since 1935.

Event Details

Smoke on The Mountain Barbecue Championship, Galax VA – July 20 & 21, 2018

Smoke on The Mountain Barbecue Championship, Galax VA – July 20 & 21, 2018

Thousands of people go hog wild for a taste of authentic barbecue and a chance to see a professional cooking competition up close at Smoke on the Mountain each year in Galax, VA. This competition, held every third weekend in July, is Virginia’s official state barbecue championship.  The streets of downtown Galax are packed with people and the air is filled with fragrant clouds of hickory smoke and the tangy bite of vinegar with mustard, mingling with sweetness of tomato and the mouth-watering sizzle of slow cooked pork.

Smoke on the Mountain promises all that, plus live music, crafters, vendors, children’s activities and other attractions on several blocks of historic downtown Galax.

  • DJ Kevin Edwards of Crashing Waves Entertainment – Friday, July 20th, 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Will Jones Band – Friday, July 20th, 8:00 PM
  • Blue Grass Bands in front of Barr’s Fiddles Shop – Friday & Saturday, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
  • Beer & Wine Garden – Friday & Saturday, Noon until midnight
  • Cornhole Tournament – Saturday, July 21st, 12:00 PM
  • The Craig Vaughn Experience — Saturday @ 3:00 PM
  • Awards Ceremony – Saturday @ 6:30 PM
  • The Catalinas Band – Saturday @ 8:00 PM

Please visit http://www.smokeonthemountainva.com/ for additional information.

Summer Concerts at The Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, VA

Summer Concerts at The Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, VA

Located at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, Virginia, The Blue Ridge Music Center is a music venue, museum, and visitor center. The center honors the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge Mountains through concerts, exhibits, and programs that highlight the musical heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains region. The center was planned when the town of Galax donated 1,000 acres for its development. The center has a state-of-the-art amphitheater and a 17,000-square-foot museum. It was officially established by Congress in 1985. The site is operated through a partnership between the National Park Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

The Blue Ridge Music Center hosts concerts each summer on Saturdays at its outdoor amphitheater from May through October. The concerts include old-time, bluegrass, folk, Americana, gospel, and country blues performances. Free Midday Mountain Music acoustic sessions featuring local musicians are offered from noon to 4 p.m. daily. The 2018 summer schedule can be viewed here.  http://www.blueridgemusiccenter.org/concerts.htm

The Steep Canyon Rangers, performing on July 14th, is an American bluegrass band from Brevard, North Carolina which formed in 2000. The band has become widely popular since 2009 for collaborating with actor/banjoist Steve Martin. In 2013, the Steep Canyon Rangers’ solo album Nobody Knows You won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.

The Roots of American Music exhibit tells the compelling story of the region’s rich music heritage. Visitors can listen to and enjoy music while learning about the development and national significance of this part of Blue Ridge Mountain cultural heritage. This is a state of the art museum exhibit and brings visitors from around the world.  Admission to the museum is free.

If you would like to stretch your legs during your visit to the Music Center, two trails are located on the property. The 1.35 mile High Meadow Trail, an easy stroll, takes you through a hayfield and a wetland with an abundance of wildflowers and birds. It also winds through a forest with a rich display of rhododendron, ferns and rock outcrops. The Fisher Peak Loop is a 2.24 moderate loop. Begin this trail at one of its junctions with the High Meadow Trail. The trail winds up the side of Fisher Peak through a variety of vegetation. At the lower elevation the trail follows a stream through mixed pine and hardwoods. Higher up, the blooms of azaleas, mountain laurel and Catawba rhododendron provide a spectacular display in May. They give way to a diverse second growth forest of oak, poplar, maple and sourwood trees. Look for abundant signs of animal life—woodpecker holes, deer tracks, and turkey dust baths.

Trailhead parking is located on Foothills Road (State Route 612). Follow signs to the Music Center, then turn right onto Foothills Road just before passing through the Music Center gates. Continue 0.5 miles to the parking area. The gates to the Music Center are locked at 5 p.m. so you’re not allowed to leave vehicles in the visitor center parking area later than 5 p.m. It is recommended that hikers park at the trailhead parking area on Foothills Road. The trails are for hiking only. Bicycles, horses and motorized vehicles are prohibited.

Please visit http://blueridgemusiccenter.org/index.htm for additional information.

 

Celebrate July 4th in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Celebrate July 4th in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Come celebrate an old-fashioned Fourth of July 2018 in beautiful Independence, VA.

8:00 am – Freedom Day 5K and downhill mile starting at Grayson County High School, 110 Blue Devil Drive.

10:00 am – Parade beginning at 171 West Main Street.

11:00 am – Come to the Town of Independence Park, 85 County Park Lane, and enjoy children’s activities, DJ Steve, food, crafts, and much more.

7:00 pm – Don’t miss Briana Atwell’s free concert at the Town Park. Food & beverage by Creek Bottom Brews. Bring a lawn chair.

Dark – The Town of Independence presents a beautiful display of fireworks!

Kid’s Summer Camps in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Kid’s Summer Camps in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

If you’re searching for the perfect summer camp for your child that will inspire their curiosity while they’re immersed in a beautiful nature setting, you’ll want to check out the Blue Ridge Discovery Center. Founded in 2008, BRDC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring, discovering and sharing the natural history of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  BRDC currently operates out of Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina. Summer camps are led by highly skilled guides who focus on teaching skills through river expeditions, fly fishing, wilderness discoveries, and ornithology. Please visit their website: http://blueridgediscoverycenter.org/ for a complete list of the 2018 summer camps.

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

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.