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Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area

(Reprint from News: July 14, 2001)

July 10, 2001


After leaving Tennessee, I crossed into southwestern Virginia and stumbled across the pleasant Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area.  This area is something like Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few hours south, but it's a lot less congested.  I drove into the Beartree Campground here on a Tuesday afternoon thinking that I'd camp for a couple nights. 


I've stayed at hundreds of campgrounds in my life, mostly in the Western U.S., and I've always believed that campgrounds in the West are generally superior than those in the more crowded eastern half of the U.S.  My smugness took a hit, though, because the Beartree Campground is, quite honestly, one of the very nicest that I've ever camped at.  As an added bonus, it's at over 3,000 feet in elevation so it was a lot cooler here than down in the lowlands.  The daily high temperatures here were "only" in the 80's, compared to the 90's or low 100's down lower.  


In fact, this campground was so nice that I stretched out my visit here to four nights, which gave me plenty of time to get caught up on my website and process some of the 3,000 digital photos which I'd taken since leaving Bellingham a month earlier.  During my stay, I also made a few forays into the pleasant nearby towns of Abingdon and Bristol, Tennessee for supplies and fuel, and each night, back at Beartree Campground, I fell asleep to the sound of chirping crickets and the trickling of a nearby creek.  It doesn't get much more peaceful than this.


After leaving Mt. Rogers, I continued heading north for a few hours, then pulled into the bustling city of Roanoke, Virginia (pop. 94,000).  Roanoke is separated from the rest of Virginia by the Blue Ridge Mountains, so it feels more like eastern Tennessee here than Virginia. 


Since this was a Saturday, I had decided not to camp in a campground, which would've been pretty crowded, opting instead to head into town and splurge for a motel room.  So splurge I did, at a Motel 6.  Actually, it was a very nice Motel 6, certainly the nicest one I've ever stayed at and more like a Holiday Inn.  To top it off, I bought an 8-piece box of fried chicken at the nearby Hardee's.  A nice, air-conditioned motel room with AC outlets to charge my laptop and a box of fried chicken... this was like heaven.  Simple man, simple dreams.



Above left:  The peaceful Beartree Campground is one of the nicest campgrounds that I've ever stayed at.  It's in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in southern Virginia, an area like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but without the massive crowds.  Note the power cord running from my cigarette lighter to my laptop.  I've learned on this trip never again to take AC outlets for granted!

Above center:  A possible candidate for "This Old House," near Abingdon, Virginia.

Above right:  The cheapest gas that I've seen so far was in Abingdon.  Gas is a lot cheaper in the South than on the West Coast, averaging about $1.35 per gallon here, about 20 cents per gallon cheaper than out West.



Above left:  Traveling on the Virginia backroads in the beautiful Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

Above center:  The New River is a misnomer.  Actually, it's probably the oldest river in North America and has been cutting through the Appalachian Mountains for millions of years.  It's only a few feet deep here in Radford, Virginia, and I could've waded across.

Above right:  "Splurging away" at the Roanoke Motel 6.



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