Our Region

Click the tabs for more info about Towns & Counties in the region

  • Norton
  • Buchanan
  • Dickenson
  • Lee
  • Russell
  • Scott
  • Tazewell
  • Wise

Our Initiative

A brief background on why we do what we do and how the passion for the Heart of Appalachia region affects so many people.

City of Norton

Voted 2017 Blue Ridge Outdoors Top Outdoor Adventure Town, Norton is widely known to the outdoor enthusiast due to its accessibility to hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, and watersports, all just minutes away from downtown. With so many options for exciting outdoor adventure and located so close to great lodging, dining, and entertainment, Norton has been compared to hotspots like Asheville and Boone, NC – even Telluride, CO.

Norton is the gateway to the Flag Rock and High Knob Recreation Areas which both offer breathtaking views of the region and extensive outdoor experiences.   During every season of the year, Flag Rock offers visitors an incredible vantage of the City, nestled among the majestic mountains, and pays homage to the American Dream. It is here that German immigrant Karl Matuszczyk, planted an American Flag 1,000 feet above the city on a large rock outcropping in the 1920’s. The 25 acre Flag Rock Recreation Area was established, providing spectacular views, hiking and mountain biking trails, picnic shelters, a playground, great fishing and watersports at the reservoir, and a mountaintop campground with electricity and hot water bath houses.

Fall on High Knob

In celebration of Norton being named Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine's Top Adventure Town for 2017, we’re highlighting some of the iconic landmarks to explore while visiting the City. Thanks to Brad Deel for this video that features the High Knob Observation Tower and the City’s own Flag Rock Recreation Area. Thanks also to local musicians Thomas Cassell, a Norton native, and Tyler Hughes and the Empty Bottle String Band for allowing us to feature their songs in the video. And, finally, thanks again to everyone who voted for Norton and helped make us this year’s Top Adventure Town. We hope you’ll also check out www.explorenortonva.com and find out how to Get Outside in Norton, Virginia!

Posted by Explore Norton VA on Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On a clear day, you can see 5 states from the High Knob Observation Tower, elevation 4,223 feet, which is the focal point of the High Knob Recreation Area. As part of the Jefferson National Forest, amenities include a beach and bath house for swimming in the lake, many hiking trails, picnic areas, amphitheater, and an authentic campground, built during a time when camping trailers were small and compact, offering visitors an intimate outdoor experience. The cold water lake is routinely stocked and offers great fishing.

Visitors wanting to experience the plethora of outdoor adventure that surrounds Norton don’t even need to bring their equipment from home. Pathfinders Outdoor Adventure Outfitters rents and sells equipment and supplies for a range of outdoor activities including biking, fishing, kayaking, tents, camping, paddleboards, etc. Those who trek into the outdoors near the city may see or come in contact with Bigfoot, a reported occurrence. Only cameras may be shot at the Woodbooger, for the Flag Rock Recreation Area is an official Sasquatch Sanctuary, one of a handful in the country. Visitors can get their Bigfoot mementos at Home Hardware: Sasquatch souvenir headquarters.

Downtown Norton offers many hotels, conveniently located to a variety of restaurants which offer a global variety of fare: Italian, Mexican, Cajun, and American food top the list. The Central Drive-In is a favorite attraction for residents and visitors alike, as parents want their kids to experience movie magic outside like when they were young. The Country Cabin keeps the tradition of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music alive each Saturday Night and at their Monday night Jam Sessions.

Norton is a great place to bring your sweetie, your buddies, or the whole family.

Cities & Towns

  • Norton http://www.nortonva.gov/

Additional Information

Information source: www.nortonva.org and www.virginia.org

Buchanan County

From its scenic foliage in the spring and fall to its snow-covered hills and valleys in the winter and lush greenery in the summer, Buchanan County is evidence of Mother Nature’s handiwork.

It is a county rich in history and tradition – from the pioneer spirit of its earliest settlers which has been handed down through the years to its rich tradition of timbering and mining.

Visitors to the county will find a pleasant place to stay as they visit for a while or drop in overnight while traveling through the area.

Named in honor of former United States President James Buchanan, the county was formed from the counties of Tazewell and Russell in 1858. Exploration of the county dates from about 1750, but few settlers came in until after the Revolutionary War. Buchanan County was sparsely settled until the 1930s when the development of coal mines brought many newcomers.

Cities & Towns

  • Grundy
  • Vansant

Additional Information


Dickenson County

Dickenson County was formed in 1880 from Russell, Wise and Buchanan Counties. The district was named for William J. Dickenson, a delegate to the General Assembly, who played a major role in establishing the new county. In 1880, Delegate Dickenson sponsored the bill in the House of Delegates to establish Dickenson County as the One hundredth County in Virginia. Dickenson County has since become known as “Virginia’s Baby.”

The rough mountainous terrain has greatly influenced the development of the Dickenson County area. Early settlers located along stream beds where the best farm land was to be found. The streams also served as a much needed water supply to the pioneers. The first settlements in Dickenson County were Sandlick, Haysi, Holly Creek (Clintwood), and Nora. All of these communities were developed along the streams in the area.

Cities & Towns

  • Clintwood http://www.townofclintwood.com
  • Clinchco http://www.dickensoncounty.net/clinchhist.html
  • Haysi http://www.haysivirginia.gov

Additional Information

Information source: http://dickensonva.org/index.aspx?NID=31


Lee County

Absolute-Lee beautiful Lee County was formed in 1792 and is named in honor of General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, a Revolutionary War soldier and the Governor of Virginia at the time the county was formed.

Lee County is located in the far southwestern portion of the Heart of Appalachia region of Virginia. It borders Kentucky on the north and Tennessee and is home to some of the most pristine, natural landscape in Appalachia. From the White Rocks to the Stone Face Rock, you will enjoy miles of breathtaking mountainous landscapes. Lee County is an integral part of Daniel Boone’s journey to blaze a trail through the Cumberland Gap, allowing the westward expansion of pioneers.

Visitors can “Relax your heart rate” with a weekend show at the Lee Theatre or enjoying a peaceful weekend getaway at a quiet mountainside rental.  Or you can “ELEVATE your heart rate” hiking, biking, ATVing, or paddling on our amazing trails and pristine rivers.

Outdoor adventure awaits you in Lee County.  Part of the Jefferson National Forest is in Lee County with opportunities for hiking, hunting, and camping. The 200-acre Wilderness Road State Park features Martin Station, an outdoor living history museum depicting life on Virginia’s 1775 frontier, bike rentals, and group campsites.  Cumberland GapNational Historical Park is also a popular place to hike, explore, and visit the Pinnacle that overlooks the mountain pass traversed by Daniel Boone.

Cities & Towns

  • Jonesville http://www.townofjonesville.org
  • Pennington Gap http://www.townofpennington.com
  • St. Charles

Additional Information

Information source: http://ilovelee.org/

Russell County

Nestled in the Appalachian mountains of Southwest Virginia, Russell County is rich with natural beauty, history and rapidly growing economy. Founded on January 2, 1786, Russell County was formed from a section of Washington County, Virginia. L. P. Summers, a Washington County historian later wrote, “Washington County lost a great extent of country and many valuable citizens when Russell County was formed.” Lee, Tazewell, Wise, Buchanan, Dickenson and Scott Counties were formed from parts of Russell County. Our citizens take great pride in the history of the community and are passionate about its future. The county was named for Colonel William Russell who participated in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, and has been home to such public servants as Daniel Boone, Governor H. C. Stuart, and State Senator M. M. Long and State Senator Phillip Puckett. Russell County is rapidly growing economically, with a very promising future for continued growth.

Cities & Towns

  • Cleveland http://www.clevelandva.com
  • Honaker http://www.honakerva.com
  • Lebanon http://www.lebanonva.net
  • St. Paul http://www.stpaulva.org

Additional Information

Information source: www.experiencerussell.com

Scott County

Scott County sits within the Appalachian Valley in the Heart of Appalachia region of Virginia. It is located on the Tennessee state line.

The county is surrounded by an abundance of scenic natural beauty. Five mountain ridges cut across the county. Visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities, such as hiking and picnicking in JeffersonNational Forest as well as NaturalTunnel State Park, one of the regions leading attractions. A chair lift gives visitors a unique aerial opportunity to view the splendor of the tunnel and surrounding scenery.

Scott County was created out of parts of Washington, Lee and Russell Counties on November 24, 1814 and named after General Winfield Scott.

Cities & Towns

  • Clinchport
  • Duffield
  • Dungannon http://www.townofdungannon.com/
  • Gate City http://www.mygatecity.com
  • Nickelsville http://www.nickelsville.com
  • Weber City

Additional Information

Information source: www.explorescottcountyva.org 

Tazewell County

Tazewell County nurtures a special position in the majestic Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia. The Nature Conservancy declared the Clinch River Basin to be one of only twenty “Last Great Places” in the world (1990), and this basin, supporting “…the world’s largest collection of rare and endangered fresh water species,” begins in Tazewell County. The county’s 500+ square miles of hillsides and valleys, streams and rivers, meadows and forests form a largely agricultural land. Home to about 40,000 people, its towns bring you back to the feeling of safer, more relaxed times. It’s a wonderful place to live, raise a family or to retire, and a great place to visit!

If you’re looking for the joys of the great outdoors, your search is rewarded in Tazewell County. Plentiful fish leap from native trout streams, the Clinch River, and local lakes; hunting is bountiful. You’ll find the ease—or challenge—the county has to offer in its versatile hiking and biking opportunities on country roads and through vast expanses of national forests.

America’s roots call to those who live and visit in Tazewell County. A reconstructed pioneer settlement and museum houses intriguing models and illustrations of the pioneers in the area, and astounding fossils prove an even earlier history of Native American activity and prehistoric development. For industrial history, tour the world’s oldest exhibition coal mine and then visit the Coal Miners’ Memorial listing those whose lives were sacrificed in their efforts to power a nation.

Agricultural history remains alive at local farms where you’ll learn about traditional farming with rare breed horses and sheep, and newer endeavors such as raising ostriches. Time your visit to enjoy one of Tazewell County’s many festivals and fairs that feature traditional Appalachian music and crafts.

Cities & Towns

  • Bluefield http://www.bluefieldva.org
  • Cedar Bluff
  • Pocahontas http://www.pocahontasva.org
  • Richlands http://town.richlands.va.us
  • Tazewell http://www.townoftazewell.org

Additional Information

Information source: www.visittazewellcounty.org

Wise County

Wise County, located in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia, is a perfect place to exercise your passion for mountains, music and more. The county was chartered on February 16, 1856 and named after then governor Henry A. Wise. Early exploration of the region began with Dr. Thomas Walker, Christopher Gist and Daniel Boone, as well as many now unknown “long hunters”, trappers and land speculators. Each made their mark along trails long used by the Cherokee, Shawnee and other Indian tribes. A visit to Wise County offers a taste of that first “Old West” in a setting of natural beauty and mountain splendor.

Cities & Towns

  • Appalachia http://www.townofappalachiava.us
  • Big Stone Gap http://www.bigstonegap.org
  • Coeburn http://www.townofcoeburn.com
  • Pound http://www.poundva.com
  • St. Paul http://www.stpaulva.org
  • Wise http://www.townofwise.net

Additional Information

Information source: http://www.visitwisecounty.com/

The Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority was formed to market, promote, expand and develop tourism opportunities in the far southwestern Virginia coalfield counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, Wise and the City of Norton. The Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority promotes the exciting outdoor adventure and relaxing scenic beauty of these mountains.  Generating revenue from tourism fosters economic growth for the Coalfield Region and a higher quality of life for residents.

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