Grayson Highlands Family Camping

So… we’re just over 1 month away from our around the world departure date of May 3rd! Ryan and I are beginning to say our goodbyes to family & friends as we start packing up our life, finish up at work, get our shots and fulfill some Virginia/Richmond wishlist items. Most of my “must dos” before leaving Richmond, VA are eating at our favorite restaurants. But, this past weekend, I got to kill two birds with one stone by both visiting with my family AND hanging out in the Mt. Rogers area of Western Virginia and hiking in Grayson Highlands State Park with its adorable wild ponies.

It was wonderful to spend the weekend camping with family and great to be with Joe and Amber (brother & sister-in-law) who we don’t get to see often enough.

Key takeaways from the weekend:

  • On our way to Marion, VA, from Richmond, Ryan and I stopped for a quick hike on the Dragon’s Tooth Trail in Catawba. This day hike (its a 4.3 mile out and back) is beautiful, has a couple fun rocky parts, and is just off the highway. It’s close to McAfee’s knob and some other popular hikes in Western VA. The “dragon’s tooth” rock formation is pretty cool.

  • I cannot recommend visiting Grayson Highlands State Park enough. The landscape is unique and gorgeous. The ponies are adorable and worth the hype. There are a number of accessible trails, including the AT.
  • We car camped about an hour north at Hungry Mother State Park and had a great set up. Really nice camp ground. Way to go Virginia state parks! (
  • Visit the Grayson Highlands General Store on your way out of the park. The owner is a DC metro area transplant who opened the store/gas station a little over a year ago and is building out an inn and backyard music venue. It looks amazing and they had ice cream that really hit the spot. (

This weekend was also the first time I took out my brand new GoPro Hero 5 Black for a test run! I’m really excited about this purchase for our big trip and can’t wait to take photos and videos around the world.  Right now I am definitely still in practice mode and just learning the ropes of the camera and software. So, to commemorate the weekend, and get some pratice clipping and putting together a video, I made this super cheesey vid from the weekend.  Check it out: