Where is Grayson Highlands State Park
Located in the southwestern portion of the state, Grayson Highlands State Park resides entirely in the state of Virginia. The state park resides within Grayson County and lies close to the North Carolina Border. Grayson Highlands US State Park provides access to several hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail, a campground, and mountain biking areas. The park is contained within the Jefferson National Forest, lies adjacent to the Mount Rogers National Forest, and lies between major cities in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Roanoke, Virginia is located 131 miles and a two-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of the park, Johnson City is located 98 miles and about a two hour drive southwest of the park, and High Point, North Carolina is located 117 miles and about a two hour drive south of the park.
How Large is Grayson Highlands State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park covers about 4,500 acres. The park’s geography mainly consists of mountainous forests, meadows, and balds. The portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the park extends for a distance of about 2.8 miles. Together all of the hiking trails that span the Grayson Highlands State Park trail system offer visitors the opportunity to explore about 26 miles of the park. The park is widely famous for its appreciation and influence of the music produced within the Blue Ridge area. Every year, in June, the park hosts the Wayne C. Henderson music festival and guitar competition. The festival draws visitors from all around the country who hope to participate in the festivities.
Grayson Highlands State Park Weather
The weather inside of Grayson Highlands State Park varies often throughout the entire year. In summer, temperatures in the park average between 65- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit, and winter temperatures in the park average between 25- and 50-degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest days of the year fall upon Grayson Highlands State Park in June, July, and August. The coldest days of the year arrive at the park in December and January. On average, Grayson Highlands State Park receives about 40 days of rain per year. These days amount to a yearly precipitation total of about 20 inches. Occasionally, the park receives snowfall during the winter months. However, snowfall totals in Grayson Highlands State Park rarely exceed over five inches.
When did Grayson Highlands Become a State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park first became a state park in 1965. The park was designed to protect the area’s ecological features and to promote and nurture the area’s rich culture. Grayson Highlands State Park is managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. The balds contained within the state park are frequently the site of various state projects and experiments. These balds are characterized by large rocky outcroppings and the absence of any large growing vegetation. The balds are mostly dominated by wind swept grasses.
Things to do in Grayson Highlands State Park
Visitors to Grayson Highlands State Park will be transfixed by the region's forest environment views of Mount Rodgers, and the sound of Blue Ridge style music. Some of these adventures and other popular experiences in Grayson Highlands State Park are listed below courtesy of our State Park Visitors Guide:
Explore the Visitor Center
The visitor center at Grayson Highlands State Park is the perfect place for visitors to begin their park journey. The visitor center not only houses several displays and educational exhibits that discuss the park’s ecology, history, and culture, but it also employees several dedicated park staff that are willing to assist every visitor. These park employees are a great resource for fielding questions and elevating concerns.
Participate in an Interpretive Program
Grayson Highlands State Park consistently offers a variety of interpretive programs to all of its visitors. These programs vary from week to week, but normally discuss issues and topics related to the park’s wildlife, history, or music background. An updated list and schedule of the park’s programs can be achieved by visiting the park’s visitor center.
Hike the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is one if not the most popular long form trail in the United States. The trial extends from Maine to Georgia. In Grayson Highlands State Park, the trail extends for about three miles and grants visitors the opportunity to experience a portion of the trail’s magnificence. Visitors looking to hike large portions of the trail can consult the visitor center for more information and regulations.
Cast a Line in the Park
Anglers visiting Grayson Highlands State Park will be eager to cast their lines into the ten miles of wild trout streams found within the park. All of the streams found within the park are Special Regulation Wildlife Trout Streams and require single hook artificial lures. The majority of fishermen who cast in the park utilize fly rods and fly tackle. All visitors fishing in the park should obtain a valid Virginia state fishing license.
Climb a few Boulders
Another popular recreation activity within Grayson Highlands State Park is bouldering. The park is consistently referred to as the best bouldering site in the whole state of Virginia. The best season for bouldering in the park is summer, for the season provides warm temperatures at even the highest of elevations.
Attend the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival
The most notable festival that occurs within Grayson Highlands State Park, the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and guitar competition allows visitors to experience the sound of the Blue Ridge while enjoying delectable food and refreshing drinks. The festival is held annually by the state park in the month of June. The exact dates of the festival vary each year but can be found on the park’s yearly schedule.
Grayson Highlands State Park provides a home to a variety of wildlife species. Species within the park that are most often spotted by visitors include white-tailed deer, racoons, squirrel, opossums, skunks, and wild turkeys. However, the park also boasts an extensive list of songbirds and other avian species that birders visiting the park can look to spot.
Camping in Grayson Highlands State Park
The campground at Grayson Highlands State Park contains 89 sites that vary in modernity. Some sights are equipped with electric and water hookups, and others are more suited for tent campers. All of these sites can be reserved through the park’s reservation portal that is found on the park’s website. Visitors looking to camp in the park in summer should make their reservations several months in advance.
When to Visit Grayson Highlands State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park is open year-round. However, the best time to visit the park is during the summer. During the season, the park’s temperatures allow for a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, bouldering, and camping. The park’s annual Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival is also held during the season. Visitors choosing to visit the park in summer are sure to experience just about all the area has to offer. Visitors looking to escape the crowds associated with the music festival and summer season should visit the park in spring. Wildlife is the most active during the season and temperatures are normally still warm enough for camping and hiking.
Must Have Items to Bring to Grayson Highlands State Park
Visitors looking to plan a trip to Grayson Highlands State Park will need to do some packing and planning. List of Parks outlines below the essential items visitors will want to bring with them on their trip.
Water & High Energy Snacks
Water and snacks are the most essential item for every outdoor excursion. Campers and hikers visiting Grayson Highlands State Park should look to bring additional supplies of each. Beef Jerky, trail mix, fruit, and protein bars are great snacks to keep in mind.
Study Hiking Boots
Several hikes within Grayson Highlands State Park feature routes that traverse various fields of unstable terrain. These hikes should not be attempted without the proper footwear. Hikers traveling to the par should be equipped with a sturdy pair of hiking boots that provide them comfort and support.
Layers of Clothing
Temperatures in Grayson Highlands State Park can drop drastically throughout the night. Visitors planning to camp within the park should look to bring a variety of layers of clothing with them to the park. The best way to prepare for intense heat and cooler temperatures is to wear several lightweight layers that can be taken off or added at will.
Visitors looking to explore and learn about the park's vegetation or wildlife species should purchase a field guide before visiting the park. These field guides can be state or continent specific. However, every proper field guide will include color photos and species descriptions that make identification easy.
Campers looking to visit Grayson Highlands State Park should make a camping equipment checklist they can follow when packing for their trip. This will ensure no necessary equipment gets left behind at home.
The trail system at Grayson Highlands State Park can become very confusing very quickly. This confusion only escalates later in the day when hikers have been under the sun for several hours. Hikers should obtain and study park maps at the park’s visitor center. Hikers can also ask rangers more specific questions about trail conditions.
Where to Stay in Grayson Highlands State Park
Visitors looking to stay in Grayson Highlands State Park should make reservations for the park’s campground or cabins online through the park website. Visitors who are looking to stay in a hotel during their trip to Grayson Highlands State Park should pursue options in Independence and Damascus. Visitors looking for additional options can make the two-hour drive to Johnson City, Tennessee.
Food Near Grayson Highlands State Park
The closest food to Grayson Highlands State Park is located in Independence and Damascus. However, visitors looking for additional options or a larger culinary scene should make the two-hour drive to Johnson City, Tennessee.
Airports Near Grayson Highlands State Park
The closest international airport to Grayson Highlands State Park is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Charlotte Douglas International airport is located 136 miles and about a two hour and forty-five-minute drive away from the park.