Plan an Adrenaline-Packed Getaway to Breaks Interstate Park

Breaks Interstate Park

Far out in the beautiful wilderness of Southwest Virginia, Breaks Interstate Park is one of the best-kept secrets in America. The park is one of only two Interstate Parks in the nation, sharing a border with Kentucky, and is made up of 4,500 acres of mountain landscape. This incredible canyon spans over five miles and reaches a depth of over 1,600 feet, making it the largest canyon east of the Mississippi and earning it the nickname the “Grand Canyon of the South”. While the park is an important part of Virginia history, scenery, and preserved lands, it has also become well-known for another aspect: extreme sports and adventure activities. Discover why Breaks Interstate Park and the surrounding region draws thousands upon thousands of visitors each year to take on the challenges that the mountains and rivers present.

—KAYAKING, BOATING, & WHITE WATER RAFTING—

The name “Breaks” came from the break in Pine Mountain created by the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River as it carved a gorge towards the Ohio River. During weekends in October, water is released from the John Flannagan Dam and Reservoir that feeds into the river, creating Class Five plus rapids on the Russell Fork through the Gorge and drawing extreme whitewater seekers to take on the rapids. One extreme 75-foot stretch of whitewater, called “El Horrendo” by the locals and brave kayakers that face the rushing water, is considered one of the most difficult in the East.

In addition to these extreme rapids weekends, the Big Sandy River brings visitors all year to kayak, raft, boat, and fish out on the waters.

—CANYON ZIPLINING—

The latest addition to Breaks Interstate Park, the Canyon Rim Zipline features three sections of zip line over the canyon that give you a spectacular view of the mountains, foliage, and the river below. The zipline tours are available Thursday-Monday as weather allows. Guests must be between 70 pounds and 250 pounds to ride the ziplines.

—ATV ADVENTURES—

Spearhead Trails

One of the latest draws to Southwest Virginia are the Spearhead Trails, rugged ATV terrain trails that winds through hundreds of miles of mountainous landscape. The closest trails to Breaks are the Ridgeview Trail System in Haysi and the Coal Canyon Trail System in Grundy. Combined, these two sections make up over 100 miles of trails for ATV, dirt bike, and mountain bike riders. Don’t have your own ATV? Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure in Grundy provides side-by-side ATV rentals for visitors looking to explore the trails, as well as offering elk viewing tours and rental cabins.

—CYCLING & MOUNTAIN BIKING—

Breaks Interstate Park has over 12 miles of mountain biking trails ranging from moderate to difficult that offer breathtaking scenery. For avid cyclers, the Trans-America Bike Route also passes through the park, following Route 80 through Dickenson and Russell Counties, then continuing east all the way to the Chesapeake …read more

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12 Cozy Cottage & Cabin Rentals for an Iconic Fall Getaway

montfair cabin

There is nothing more appealing once the weather turns cold than a weekend getaway in a cozy cabin. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful mountain retreat or a quiet coastal cottage, Virginia’s got the perfect place for you. Check out these 12 cottages and cabins that offer all the comforts and amenities you need to create a memorable fall experience in Virginia.

MONTFAIR RESORT FARM COTTAGES—CROZET

Montfair Resort Farm has eight eco-friendly cottages available for guests, all overlooking a small mountain lake in Albemarle County. Just 15 minutes from Charlottesville, the property is convenient to a wide array of travel destinations, including dozens of wineries and breweries, historic sites like Monticello, and the world-famous Shenandoah National Park. Hiking trails wind through the estate’s woodlands, open fields, and three ponds, and you’ll spot a variety of wildlife during your treks through the property. The two bedroom, pet-friendly cottages sleep up to six guests, with a pull-out couch in the living room suitable for kids. Two canoes, kid’s bicycles, and adult mountain bikes are available for your use during a stay at the farm’s cottages.

YONA MOUNTAIN LODGE—MAX MEADOWS

A getaway location with impressive views and serene surroundings, Yona Mountain Lodge is a three bedroom, four bathroom cabin with endless entertainment for the whole family (even the four-legged family members, as the cabin is pet-friendly). A recreation room is a prime spot for the kids to hang out, with a pool table, foosball, ping-pong, and darts. Adults will enjoy the two stone fireplaces, a wrap-around covered porch with a hot tub, and a screened-in porch off the master bedroom that provides privacy along with gorgeous scenery.

A RUSTIC RIVER CABIN—MASSANUTTEN

rustic river cabin

On the Shenandoah River, the Rustic River Cabin is warm and inviting, with a gas fireplace in the living room and an enclosed sunroom overlooking the scenic waters below. For days that aren’t too cool, an upper level balcony provides an additional view of the river, and outdoor activities like hiking and fishing are still popular, even during the fall and winter months. A hot tub on the deck and a fire pit in the yard below provide outdoor respites from the chilly air. The cabin is pet-friendly, allowing you to bring along your four-legged friends for a fall Virginia adventure.

RIVERSIDE VIEW—DAMASCUS

The Riverside View cabin is a 900 square-foot mountain retreat nestled in the small town of Damascus. With the Appalachian Trail running through the center of the town and the Virginia Creeper Trail just a few blocks away, the small two-bedroom cabin is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. If the weather permits, spend some time on the balcony to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Laurel River, which runs along the property.

THE FISHEL COTTAGE—MARTINSVILLE

Built in the 1930s, the Fishel Cottage has since been renovated with all the modern amenities you would expect for a relaxing getaway. The pet-friendly log cabin sleeps …read more

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15 Easy But Rewarding Hikes in Virginia

Do you have that itch to get outdoors, to stretch your legs in a scenic setting? Virginia can scratch that itch. Loaded with easy but rewarding hiking trails from the mountains to the sea, here in Virginia you can take friends and family on a hike of 2 miles or less and reap wonderful rewards, whether it is a mountain panorama, a crashing waterfall, historic sight, a lakeside vista or remote beach walk. After the hike enhance your experience by exploring nearby outdoor (and indoor) attractions, dining and overnighting options, whether it is camping under the stars or slipping between the sheets of a hotel, B&B or lodge. Make the most of your precious time. Spend it in Virginia.

DODD PARK

Nearest Town: Henrico

Hike Distance: 1.6-mile loop

Why Go There: Walk the long boardwalk through wetland

What You Need to Know: Take your time here, watching for wildlife while traversing the wetlands.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.32203, -77.35486

The confluence of Ashton Creek and the Appomattox River make an ideal hike setting. Your hike first drops off a bluff using steps then cruises a boardwalk with a great wetland view. Once at Ashton Creek Marsh, a long boardwalk avails a firsthand look at this wetland. The hike then saddles alongside the Appomattox River where the trail overlooks the Appomattox River and Cobb Island standing across from it. This hike does have a few hills as it roller coasters along a river bluff.

After the Hike: Have a picnic after returning to the trailhead. Visit Petersburg National Battlefield, site of the longest siege in the Civil War. Eat at River’s Bend Grill. Check out the trails at Dutch Gap Conservation Area. Visit Henricus Fort and Indian Village.

RICHARD P. GRAVELY, JR. NATURE PRESERVE

Nearest Town: Martinsville

Hike Distance: 1.0-mile loop

Why Go There: Enjoy a quiet preserve along the Smith River

What You Need to Know: This park is known for its thick stands of blooming rhododendron.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.61068, -79.81743

Take a highlight-rich walk through this nature preserve along the Smith River. Enjoy a mix of natural beauty and history on the Jones Cliff Trail, which you follow for the 1.0-mile loop. The path visits stops by a pair of tobacco curing barns, reflecting the former use of the land. Cruise through woods. Take the Rhododendron Trail to the Smith River. Enjoy the river shoals amid evergreens of rhododendron and mountain laurel. Returning to the Jones Cliff Trail you will pass by the Burgess Cemetery, where the former landowners are interred. If you want to extend your hike a bit take the River View Trail for another look at the Smith River.

After the Hike: Visit the Martinsville Speedway. Do your own racing at the Martinsville Grand Prix Go-Karts. Check out the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Eat at Clarence’s Steak & Seafood House. Camp at Indian Heritage RV Park.

RAVEN CLIFF

Nearest Town: Cripple Creek

Hike Distance: 2.0 miles in two short walks from same trailhead

Why Go There: See Raven Cliff Furnace

What You Need to Know: The national …read more

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Four Trip Ideas For Your Next Wine Tasting Weekend

October is the perfect month to celebrate Virginia wines. Lucky for us there’s still plenty of time to celebrate Virginia Wine month at some of the best wineries in our state. Want to sip and savor the season for yourself? Take a look at these four trips and get some inspiration for your next wine tasting weekend in Virginia.

Virginia Wine Country Travel Guide

Style icon and lifestyle blogger Cathy Anderson of Poor Little It Girl sips and savors her way through Charlottesville wine country using Richmond as her home base. Along the way she visits Early Mountain Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, Barboursville Vineyards and Keswick Vineyards. Read along to see her favorite stops, captured in perfect detail through her beautiful photos.

Where To Sip, Eat And Stay In Virginia’s Wine Country

“If you’re a wine lover and you haven’t visited Virginia’s beautiful wine country, you’re missing out on the fastest growing wine destination in the United States,” according to the food and travel experts at Better Living. Join them on a tour of Middleburg’s favorite places to sip: Boxwood Estate Winery, RdV Vineyards, Delaplane Cellars and Mount Defiance Cidery & Distillery – and don’t miss their insider tips on where to sleep and eat while visiting.

Virginia Is For Wine Lovers

If you’ve ever wanted to bring your pup on a wine date here’s your chance. Follow along as blogger Lara Eurdolian, of Pretty Connected, takes her loveable sidekick, Charlie, to Greenhill Winery, Stone Tower Winery, 868 Estate Winery, 8 Chains North Winery, Chrysalis Vineyards and Cana Vineyards. Find out her favorite dog-friendly spots to explore, sip, dine and stay – all within an hour’s drive of Washington, D.C.

A Spirited Weekend On The Nelson 151 Trail In Virginia

The husband and wife team from Intoxicating World ventured along the Nelson 151 trail to partake in some ‘bottletrotting’ – not only exploring the region’s wine and beer of the region, but learning about its history and culture as well. Their stops included Afton Mountain Vineyards, Veritas Vineyard & Winery, Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery, and their recommendations extend beyond vineyards and breweries to other experiences as well.

…read more

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Ten Great Kayaking Adventures on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Burnham Guides.

What’s the ideal way to explore the two pristine coastlines of Virginia’s Eastern Shore?

From a kayak.

Burnham Guides.

You’ll feel exactly like John Smith did in 1609 when he arrived in the New World and discovered a remarkable spit of land with the Chesapeake Bay on one side and the Atlantic on the other. No boardwalks or beach rentals three deep here. With one of the most undeveloped coastlines on the East Coast, the wild barrier islands off the Eastern Shore’s coast are the longest stretch remaining on the Atlantic Ocean.

Bring your own kayak or hire an expert outfitter and guide to provide a route, equipment, training, logistics, along with cultural, historical, conservation and ecological insight. Trips can be tailored according to interests, skill level and physical prowess. Click here for a complete list of outfitters when you’re ready to book your kayak adventure.

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Kayak Winery Tour : On the Paddle Your Glass Off tour you will leave from a working waterfront on the Chesapeake Bay and paddle to award-winning Chatham Vineyards. Taste wine from grapes grown and bottled on a farm that is four centuries old and then paddle back with a bottle of wine tucked away.

Book with SouthEast Expeditions

Overnight on An Island or a Historic Estate : Head out on the Chesapeake Bay, the world’s second-largest estuary, to camp out on a remote island. If you’d like more luxurious digs, kayak right up to Sycamore Bend, a historic waterfront estate for the night, or stay in a B&B in the charming harbor town of Onancock. Add to your adventure with an oyster roast, hang-glide or wine tasting.

Book with Burnham Guides

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Wildlife & Ecology : The Eastern Shore’s undeveloped coastlines on two sides include the wild barrier islands and provide rich, protected habitats to observe birds and wildlife. Kayak through off-the-beaten-track Harborton Bay, Gargatha Landing and Wachapreague to observe one of nature’s most complex and delicate ecosystems, the coastal wetlands. You’ll never look at the world the same once you spot the tiny, well-disguised eggs of the tiger beetle hiding in plain sight on the open sand.

Book with Bay Country Kayaking

Chincoteague Pony Kayak Trip : Sure, you can see the famous Chincoteague ponieswhen they’re rounded up in the spring or fall, or for the big July swim, but if you know where to look, you can sneak up on them in a kayak. It’s a thrill, especially for fans of Marguerite Henry’s famous Misty of Chincoteague book or movie.

Book with Assateague Explorer or SouthEast Expeditions

Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Eastern Shore, Virginia

Overnight at a Waterman’s Watch House : Adventure out to the Atlantic coast of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and overnight in a rustic waterman’s cottage on a deserted barrier island. You’ll feel alone …read more

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