Powell Valley Overlook

The Great Appalachian Road Trip

The Gems of Southwest Virginia – Love the Outdoors

There’s so much to love about Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. But don’t take our word for it! Take the Great Appalachian Road Trip and find out why, particularly here in the beautiful southwest, Virginia is for Lovers. From “God’s Thumbprint” to the Great Stone Face, there’s a world of fun to explore in the Heart of Appalachia.

As you travel around the region, add some love to your vacation with photos at any of our 25 LOVEworks! Scattered throughout our Appalachian Mountains, you’ll find unique stops and breathtaking views all along the way.

Plus, with over 300 LOVEworks across the Commonwealth, join the hashtag #LOVEVA and spread the love.

So go ahead… Find something new to adore in the Heart of Appalachia.

“Love to Bike”

Burke’s Garden

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Burkes Garden Ariel View

Just a short drive from the town of Tazewell, you will find the largest Rural Historic District in the state, as well as Virginia’s highest valley, with the floor looming over 3,000 feet above sea level. From the air, the bowl-shaped valley closely resembles a volcanic crater, resulting from the collapse of an ancient limestone cave. The Heart of Appalachia Touring & Bicycle Route begins in this serene, pastoral landscape and winds over 100 miles through three counties to Saint Paul, VA. As you make your way into the Garden, pause for a photo op at the Virginia is for Lovers LOVEworks Barn Quilt on your right. After descending into the valley, you can set out for a leisurely exploration by bike or by car. On the Eastern loop, the Burke’s Garden Artisan Guild is housed in the historic Post Office.  Access to the famed Appalachian Trail lies at the end of West End Road and rewards you with a picturesque view over the Garden following a steep, 1.6-mile, southbound hike. In addition to the breathtaking scenery you’ll find Mattie’s Place – a true Amish owned and operated general store offering fresh local food and baked goods you won’t soon forget. Enjoy your meal on the log-cabin-style covered porch as you watch the farm animals graze peacefully nearby. If you’re in the mood for a different atmosphere, head back to Tazewell where you will find several small retail shops and restaurants. Located outside of town on the way to your next stop is Fisher and Company. Renowned for their barbecue and desserts among the locals, they are situated just off Route 460 in a historic, stand-alone building near the Crab Orchard Museum & Pioneer Park.

Discover more to love…

“Love to Off-Road”

Southern Gap 

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Southern Gap Cabins

One of the premier outdoor recreation attractions in the Southeast United States, Southern Gap is home to the Coal Canyon ATV Trail. Here you can rent UTVs and enjoy a day of off-roading on over 200 miles of trails where you can ride into the nearby towns Haysi, Grundy, or even the Breaks Interstate Park for lunch, moonshine tastings and more. Southern Gap is home to another unique LOVEworks piece, which is a great photo opportunity and attracts many wedding photographers! While enjoying the morning mist and dramatic evening sunsets, you may be rewarded with an amazing sight not often seen in the Eastern United States – a majestic herd of elk, which is a successful repopulation project of the Virginia Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. During the day we recommend you try out the Birding Trail, with over 220 documented species having been spotted. At night, you will find yourself under a blanket of stars. Southern Gap Outdoor Adventure offers RV and primitive camping, as well as several cozy cabins with excellent views!

Breaks Park Fence View

“Love to Hike”

Breaks Interstate Park

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Breaks Interstate Park is one of only two interstate parks in the entire United States. Gracing the park entrance is another unique LOVEworks… so don’t miss this photo op! Once inside the park, you will find hiking trails, rock climbing, a plethora of lodging options, the Russell Fork Gorge, which is also known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”, the Rhododendron Restaurant overlooking the Gorge, and (when not closed due to COVID 19), a Splash Pad for the kids and Ziplines for all those who dare. Soon, construction will begin on North America’s Longest Pedestrian Bridge, which will take the not-so-faint-of-heart on a trek high above the gorge, where you will cross from Virginia into Kentucky! Plan a visit to Haysi Supply Company for all your rental needs to float the river. Also visit the locally owned Pizza Factory in Haysi for lunch, where you will find unique daily specials – not just pizza!

Other nearby LOVEworks:

Dickenson-Bundy Log House

“Love the Past”

Old Russell County Courthouse & Dickenson-Bundy Log House Museum

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Castlewood, formerly known as “Castle’s Woods,” is one of the region’s oldest settlements. Here you will find the Old Russell County Courthouse & Museum and the Dickenson Bundy Log House, which dating to the 1700s. The museum building itself is a work of art, containing many artifacts from the past and perhaps even a ghost or two. Visit the historic courtroom and basement jail, and shop for locally crafted items in the gift shop. Also on site is a former one-room school, as well as a historic tenant house, relocated from the iconic Stuart Land & Cattle Company’s Rich Mountain Farm. Be sure to take your photo with the official LOVEworks sign, which was a project created by students of the Russell County Career & Technology Center in 2016.

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“Love to Float”

Saint Paul

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Clinch River Float-St Paul

Historically known as the “Western Front” due to the knife fights, brawls, and whisky drinking that routinely spilled out into the streets in the early 1900s, this tiny town has embraced its colorful past and is now thriving on outdoor recreation and tourism. Home to the Western Front Hotel and Mountain View Lodge, the town boasts the Mountain View ATV Trail system as well as Sugar Hill Trail System, and Bluebell Island trails. In addition, you’ll find a locally owned brewery, small shops, and friendly home-town greetings. UTV rentals are available at Western Front Hotel, so park the car and ride the trails (or the streets in town, which are also UTV friendly). Don’t forget your photo op at the Western Front’s LOVEworks. Float the Clinch, North America’s most biologically diverse river, with either Clinch Life Outfitters or Clinch River Adventures. Looking for more? Swing by neighboring Big Stone Gap for some big time fun in a small-town package. Check out the official outdoor drama of Virginia at the June Tolliver Playhouse, which offers outdoor dramas throughout the summer. If physical activity is more your style, visit Iron Works Cycling, where you can rent a bike to ride. After working up an appetite, we recommend a stop by Big Cherry Brewing Company or Good Times Coal-Fired Pizza & Pub. Another great option is Curklin’s, a casual sit-down restaurant offering flavorful food, craft cocktails, and beer. The Quality Inn is a solid choice for lodging in the area. The Heart of Appalachia Regional Visitors Center is in Market Square, where you can obtain more information on all the attractions and activities in the area.

Discover more to love…

“Love the Adventure”

High Knob

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High Knob Tower

Norton is home to High Knob – a lookout tower allowing you to take in panoramic views of all the