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5 Must-Dos When Visiting New River Trail State Park

I thought that I would give you some ideas of local things to do while staying at New River Trail State Park which is our park of the month for May!

Of course, it has proven to be a much harder task than I first thought. Not harder because there is nothing to do but harder because of all there is much to do! So, I decided I am going to tell you about some of my favorites but also include some theme based itinerary samples at the end for you to check out!

Amy’s Top 5 Must See’s (from New River Trail State Park)

1) Claytor Lake State Park

As I have told you before, I love water. There is no better way for me to relax.  nd we all want to relax on vacation, right?  North on I-81, Claytor Lake State Park is located just 30 minutes from Foster Falls (60 miles from Galax). The lake itself is 4,500 acres and 21-miles long and is open to boats of all types and the state park proper has a swim beach and a marina with boats for rent. Last summer we rented a pontoon boat and spent two hours out on the lake. The boat was big enough for several friends to join us. We spent the evening relaxing, laughing, and simply enjoying our time together. 

Claytor Lake is a perfect place to relax!
Kick back and relax, you deserve it

2) The Blue Ridge Music Center

If there is anything I envy is someone who can sing or play an instrument. For many in this area singing harmony and playing string instruments is a way of life. Living along the Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail leaves me with lots of opportunities for envy. Personally, I just have to sit back and be thankful they don’t sound like I do. The Crooked Road is Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail that runs 333 miles through Southwest Virginia from the Blue Ridge to the coal-fields. The first of my favorite stops along the Crooked Road is The Blue Ridge Parkway Music Center.  Located a few miles from the City of Galax, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the center depicts our musical heritage through exhibits and performances. I have to admit, we just happened to stumble upon this venue. The casual concert on the porch left us with the realization that we just needed to slow down and enjoy the world around us.

3) Big Walker Lookout

Just outside of Wytheville is Big Walker Lookout. Walker Mountain is in the Appalachian Mountain range. From the Big Walker Lookout, the view will take your breath away. The view is especially breath-taking from the top of 100 foot fire tower. We visited this spot on one of our early anniversaries. Climbing that tower was when I first discovered my husband has a fear of heights. Each summer there is a concert series that feature local artists and a cone of ice cream is always a must. 

Big Walker Lookout Country Store
You can find it all here

4) Beagle Ridge Herb Farm

This farm will take you a bit longer to find. It is approximately 45 minutes from Foster Falls in Wythe Co. Once you arrive at the farm, you will know it was worth the drive. The herb garden is a dream.  But the part of the whole farm that fascinates me more than anything is the butterfly house. They have made a covered space for butterfly to mature. It begins with plants that host native butterfly chrysalis being identified and place in the cover space. When the weather finally turns warm enough, the chrysalis are placed in the space to begin the development process. Once the butterflies reach maturity, Beagle Ridge hosts a butterfly release program. I am amazed at the dedication it takes to undertake such a project. 

5) Ft. Chiswell Animal Farm

Ok, I have to admit, this is actually on my to-do list too. The Ft. Chiswell Animal Farm is a 45-acre animal farm is home to animals from six continents. It has a guided safari ride, a petting zoo, and picnic tables too. When you go in you can purchase Zoo Chow to feed the animals. They actually encourage you to touch, feed, and photograph the animals. It is $12 for adults and children ages three through 12 are $10. Children under 2 are free. I am so excited. Please click here for directions. GPS directions are misleading.

Ft Chiswell Animal Park is full of surprises
Better have the Zoo Chow ready

So there you have it, my top five picks for the area surrounding New River Trail State Park.

More sample itineraries can be found below (these are more of my favs), I hope you will print and take them with you when you visit New River Trail State Park, and when you do, just tell them Amy sent you! 

Sentimental Skeeterdogs (Itinerary 1)

Camping, Captains, and Camels (Itinerary 2)

Eats, Beats, and More (Itinerary 3)

Published: 05/28/2014

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