Grayson Highlands State Park - Backpacking/Camping

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Ahhh, the famed Grayson Highlands. Perched high in the Virginian Appalachians, in the Jefferson National Forest, this state park is home to grassy pastures and meadows, 5,000+ foot peaks, wild ponies, and crystal clear mountain streams lined with rhododendron tunnels. Providing a variety of unique sights, trails, and boulders, there’s something here for everyone. Activities include hiking, bouldering, primitive and RV camping, and horseback riding.

Written by

Morgan Hodge


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

94.0 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days

1-3 days


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




Driving into Grayson Highlands State Park is kind of like entering a world all its own. Prepare yourself for gorgeous views, awesome climbs, and the occasional wild pony. But most importantly, no matter who you are, what you like, or who you’re coming with, there is an unforgettable experience waiting for you at Grayson Highlands. 

What Makes It Great

Grayson Highlands is almost like an all-inclusive trip for accessible adventure. Nothing here is too intense, and yet the scenery is so beautiful that you can’t help but feel the magic and comfort of being immersed in the wilderness. Whether you’re traveling alone, with friends, or as a family, there’s an activity for everyone to enjoy. Even if someone in your group isn’t big on hiking, the easy-to-moderate trails will give them a chance to experience the park in small doses. 

The Appalachian Trail runs directly through the park, giving locals, visitors, and thru-hikers the chance to mingle along the trail. The area also boasts Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia, and the trail leading the way to the top is often lined with ponies and clusters of exposed boulders. 

Grayson also offers a unique bouldering experience, which is unlike many other places in the Southeast. Aaron Parlier, the author of the Grayson Highlands Bouldering guidebook, describes the rock as a nice deviation from the usual southeastern sandstone. Most of the bouldering areas are heavily shaded, meaning you can climb throughout the summer without worrying about muggy weather. All of the bouldering locations are unique in their size and features. Be prepared for sharp crimps, a nice selection of highball problems, and iconic faces. 

The Listening Rock Trail is the densest area for bouldering, offering a good portion of the park’s climbing. After that, be sure to check out the AVP and Boneyard areas. You’ll find parking for these areas outside the park on Hwy 58. The Highlands Bouldering Area should not be missed, as it gives climbers the satisfaction of beautiful top-outs, as well as one of the tallest problems, the Highland Highball. 

The Picnic Area is less exposed than the rest of the park, and offers climbers a refuge on windy days. The majestic Olympus boulder can also be found here, which includes everything from V1 to V12. If you’re itching to climb as soon as you enter the park, head up the Contact Station Area boulders, which are found just left of the park office. The park is extremely welcoming to climbers, so be sure to treat the area with respect! You'll probably want to purchase the guidebook, and luckily, it can be found in the Visitor's Center.

Who is Going to Love It

Backpackers and hikers will love the direct access to the Appalachian Trail, as well as to plenty of other trails which provide a wide variety of sights along the way, such as overlooks and diverse plant life. 

Climbers will appreciate a unique and enjoyable bouldering experience with most areas being shaded and low on insects. 

Campers have the opportunity to camp primitively, while semi-primitive campsites provide visitors with fire pits and access to heated restrooms. RV camping is also available. Families will appreciate how easy a trip to Grayson can be. Campsites are easily accessible along a paved road—perfect for bringing the kids’ bikes along. All of the unique sights make Grayson a fun and exciting place for families to explore. Boulders and rhododendron tunnels create a natural playground. Some of the trails are very family friendly, and don’t take long to complete. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The park is open from 8:30am- 8:30pm everyday. When entering the park, you’ll need to have cash to pay for parking and camping (if you so choose). Parking is $4 during the weekdays, $5 on the weekends. The park offers 96 campsites that include picnic tables and fire pits. These campsites are $20/night. There is one group camping site, which accommodates 35 people. RV camping, horse facilities, and a bunkhouse can also be reserved. Camp for free by hiking into the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and pitching a tent. Please see Grayson Highlands website for updated fees and regulations before planning your trip.

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Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson Highland Ln
Mouth of Wilson, VA, 24363
36.621249, -81.484485

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