Grayson Highlands State Park


Camping with our children is one of our favorite activities, and a few weeks ago we went on our annual trip to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia to seek out some adventure and some cooler weather. The beautiful scenery, mountaintop spaces, wild horses and infinite open sky call to us each year, and it has been so fun to watch our children appreciate these things more and differently each time we go.


GHSP is one of the most beautiful parks we’ve ever visited. There are plenty of hiking trails, from easy to hard, including the popular Mt. Rogers, and lots of places to stop and play on the rocks. You can even rent crash pads from the park store if you’re wanting to do some bouldering! The trails wind through a series of weighted gates so that the wild horses roaming the balds stay in the wild, and we have seen horses every time we’ve gone! In fact, last year we had one sneak up on us while we were stargazing at night!


This year the highlight of the trip for Elliot was climbing on all the rocks and practicing his bouldering, although that would be closely followed by apple picking! A section of the park is the site of an old homestead, and there are still fruit trees on the grounds. We spent a day climbing in the apple trees, exploring the boulders, playing on the playground and rolling in the open field. It was so nice to be outside, soaking in the sunshine, playing + climbing together - with no phones or cell service.

We spent our evenings on the swing set, playing in the field near our campsite and sitting by the campfire. The boys played in the sand and rocks, and I am fairly certain Isaac ate his weight in dirt over the course of the trip. Elliot collected leaves and made leaf pressings + nature art, investigated ‘interesting’ plants and flowers, rode his bike around the campground and did everything he could to make his little brother laugh.

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It rained on Wednesday, cancelling our plans to ride the Virginia Creeper trail with our kids, so we wandered into West Jefferson, NC and found a lovely coffee shop. We’d visited the town on our last trip, and I fell in love with it even more this time - a simple, intentional mountain town with the kindest people you’ve ever met, pumpkins and fall flowers lining the streets and intersections, small businesses with a friendly hello. A little bit of Bluebell and a little bit of Stars Hollow, if you know what I mean. We wandered around town and found an outdoor shop where I bought the boys and I matching Carharrt toboggans (mine, the boys, Kevin’s)! I bought one for Kevin a few years ago and ended up ‘borrowing’ it indefinitely because it is so warm and cozy, so now we all have our own! Is there any thing cuter than a little one in a toboggan?


Our trip this year was less active than our usual pace, with only a short hike, a cancelled bike ride, and lots of simple wandering along the trails, but it suited us just fine. The boys reveled in simply playing outside, picking and eating apples, swinging and sliding, climbing and playing in the rocks, dirt and leaves. It was simple, and it was perfect.