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Grayson County Virginia Tourism
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Grayson County is the ultimate destination for outdoor adventure! We are home to the two highest peaks in Virginia, Mt. Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, as well as home to the second oldest river in the world, the New. Two state parks, the New River Trail and Grayson Highlands call Grayson County home. One of the nation’s best bike trails begins (or ends) at Whitetop, the Virginia Creeper Trail. Grayson County has endless hiking and biking trails throughout the county. It also contains creeks, rivers and streams around every bend that are full of colossal fish, rock bluffs and boulders that will challenge even the most experienced rock climbers, and a river through the middle of the county that will have you itching to kick back and relax on its banks. Horse trails abound, and wildlife is abundant including our famous wild ponies. Get outside and come to Grayson County today! You will have the time of your life! Guaranteed.


Running parallel to the New River in Fries, Virginia is the beginning of the New River Trail, a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way. Spend the day experiencing the outdoors while riding your bike along the trail or rent a bike from New River Outdoor Adventures if you didn’t bring your own. You can enjoy as many miles as you’d like riding beside the beautiful New River. After a long bike ride, relax along the banks of the New River. Do a little fishing. Grab a bite to eat at the Fries Café where you can dine outside overlooking the river. If you come on a Thursday night, you can enjoy Old-time and Bluegrass music at the Fries Historic Theatre’s Jam, one of Grayson County’s hidden gems. They also sponsor concerts on Friday and Saturday nights periodically throughout the year at this official Crooked Road venue.
An alternative to biking on the New River Trail is to rent a tube or kayak and be shuttled to the small town of Fries and float the New River along- side the trail. New River Outdoor Adventures rents tubes and kayaks and sells fishing licenses and equipment. Several quaint cottages can be rented in Fries (pronounced Freeze – locals say you fry in summer and freeze in winter) overlooking the New River and this nostalgic mill town. Bring along your camera to capture that once in a lifetime image. Something is always happening at the Fries Ball Park – concerts, festivals, car shows. Relax your pace in Fries, as in the old days!

Matthews State Forest & Matthews Historical Farm & Museum

Just outside of Galax is another hidden gem full of outdoor experiences, Matthews State Forest and Matthews Historical Farm & Museum. The forest is open during daylight hours for hiking, biking, wildlife watching, horseback riding, and hunting in season. Nearly eighty miles of challenging mountain bike trails are open to hikers and bikers. Educational programs led by forest rangers occur regularly throughout the summer and fall. Wildlife abound in the state forest so you’re sure to see something camera worthy, and the views from the observation tower are spectacular. About a mile away is the Matthews Historical Farm & Museum. This 21-acre farm offers a glimpse back in time, where visitors can experience gardening, antique tractors, sheep shearing, craft demonstrations, open hearth cooking, kids’ activities, and more. The farm offers regular activities and events throughout the year. Visit for a schedule of events. Matthews Living History Farm is one of our best kept secrets here in Grayson County.

There are two lovely picnic shelters on this property. Make arrangements to have Two the Table bring the picnic to you! This unique business brings everything to you for a cozy picnic including setting up a beautiful space with dessert, beverages, a meal, or a grazing board. There are several packages to choose from and best of all, they set up and clean up!

Head back to Fries to spend the night in a cozy cottage where you can relax on the front porch looking out over the New River, or head up to Independence, about 12 miles west on Highway 58 and spend the night in Independence. Check out our lodging page for all our unique vacation rentals here in Grayson County.

A road trip to Grayson County wouldn’t be complete without spending some time outdoors on the New River. The New River offers a variety of experiences: a tube float with the family, a canoe trip for a romantic picnic, or a kayak ride on a Class III rapid. Didn’t bring your kayak? No problem. Just south of the small town of Independence is New River Campground Canoeing & Kayaking offering full-service equipment rental and a shuttle service. A perfect place to camp too! Paddleyax is a retailer of fishing and recreational kayaks; people come from all over the Southeast to shop for kayaks at this store in Independence. Visit and walk away with your brand-new kayak. Lots of vacation rentals can be found all along the river from rustic to luxurious. Not into river adventure? Consider hiring a guide for a fishing trip. B’s Outdoor Guide Service offers whole or half day guided trips all along the New. New River Trips, LLC offers fishing for bass and other fish from a raft on the New. Many access points for the new are located along Route 58 as well as spectacular views as you travel Highway 58 through Grayson County.


If you enjoy a small-town vibe, spend some time in Independence. The center of town is the Historic 1908 Courthouse, another Grayson County hidden gem. Every Wednesday at 6:30 they host the Mountain Music Jam. Local musicians play inside in winter and around the gazebo in summer months. Bring your instrument and join in if you play. The 1908 houses Grayson County’s visitor center where you can find information on all types of local and regional things to do. There’s also the Crossroads Museum inside with lots of artifacts relating to Grayson County heritage and culture. Concerts and plays are scheduled periodically upstairs in the old courtroom now called the Dan Baldwin Auditorium after the man who saved the courthouse from being torn down. Surrounding the Courthouse and down Main Street you’ll find quaint shops and delicious restaurants. Nobody celebrates the Fourth of July like they do in INDEPENDENCE, Virginia.

Grayson County is mainly rural which is why we excel in outdoor recreation, but you will find the majority of our restaurants here in Independence. If you visit on a Friday, buy your own fresh produce, eggs, and meat at the Independence Farmers Market and take it back to your vacation rental and cook your own meal. Lots of vacation rentals abound in and around Independence, from rustic cabins overlooking the river, to luxurious colonials in town, to a renovated barn B&B with three unique spaces to rent. Independence is also a central location if you don’t want to move from night to night. Rent a place here and your drive along Route 58 to your outdoor adventure won’t be far in any direction.


Plan to spend at least half a day in Virginia’s most visited state park, Grayson Highlands. All types of hikes are available from a casual stroll in the highland meadow to a challenging hike to the top of Mt. Rogers. Guided horseback rides are available that begin in the Jefferson Forest National Recreation Area and travel through the park. There’s a good chance on any hike or ride that you’ll see the wild ponies or free-range long-horn cattle. Wild azaleas and rhododendron are spectacular in spring. Facilities include a visitor center, campgrounds, and hiking trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks. Scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with electric and water hookups, stables, and parking for trailers are available. The park provides year-round access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail. If you’re not camping, consider glamping…several yurts are available inside the park and many vacation rentals are available outside the park. Time in the Highlands is the ultimate outdoor experience.

The last stop on our scenic road trip is Whitetop Mountain. The second highest peak in Virginia is accessible by four wheel drive up a long and winding dirt road. As you climb, you will notice the change in ecosystems from a deciduous forest to Alpine forest. This unique ecosystem is only found on Whitetop and in Canada on the east coast. From the top the views are breath taking. Located in the Whitetop community is Creeper Trail Bike Rental and Shuttle Service. You will pick up your bike near the Whitetop train depot and then ride downhill to the nearby town of Damascus in Smyth County. Here you will be picked up and shuttled back to Whitetop. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34-mile rail-trail beginning in Whitetop and continuing to Abingdon and is considered one of the best bike trails in the nation.

Lots of cabins can be rented in and around Grayson Highlands State Park and the Whitetop area. They are nestled high in the hills and hollows all with spectacular views. Not many restaurants are located in these parts, but the ones we do have are delicious. Sarah’s Fox Creek is about 5 miles outside of the park in an old general store. Stop in for breakfast or Sarah’s gourmet take-out on Friday night. The Corner Market Cafe, as you turn to go up to the Highlands, serves up delicious comfort food as well as sandwiches and salads daily. Inside the Grayson Highlands General Store you can get a perfect sandwich made with high quality deli meat and delicious bread. Dennis is always in the kitchen experimenting with desserts using whatever fruit is in season. It’s always a surprise!

Didn’t get everything done you wanted to do or see everything you wanted to see? We know! Grayson is a big, beautiful county full of natural beauty and tons of outdoor recreation. Lots of scenic drives sprout from Highway 58, the county’s main scenic drive. Small towns like Fries and Independence are waiting to be explored. You could spend a week in Grayson Highlands, and days full of adventure on the New River. Our LoveWorks sign will be coming soon! Extend your 3 day trip to a week or keep coming back for more! You’ll love to wander with us!