Most folks know the Blue Ridge Parkway as one of the most scenic drives in America. What they don’t know is that this Appalachian artery also connects some of the best rock climbing in western Virginia. You can use it to access well-known peaks like Old Rag and Shenandoah National Park gems like Little Stony Man. But beyond the national park, there’s plenty more rock to be found. Here are three amazing, often-overlooked climbing areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
1. Love Gap
Love Gap is one of the best traditional climbing areas within an hour’s drive from Charlottesville. Multi-pitch climbing is possible on the 200-foot walls, but most of the established lines are single-pitch trad routes between 60 and 100 feet in length. On those, you’ll find a variety of styles—everything from off-width cracks to steep crimps. The grades range from 5.0 to 5.10, making this a great place for leaders of every level to practice their craft.
To climb at Love Gap, park off of Campbell’s Mountain Road (state Route 814), which branches off the Parkway at Milepost 16. The parking area is a small dirt lot on the right (it’s on private land, so be sure to be respectful). Cross the road to find the approach trail. For maps and approach information, check out the online guides for Love Gap and nearby cliff Love Lost, both provided by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.
2. Raven’s Roost
Raven’s Roost is one of the more popular weekend crags among Charlottesville locals. The cliff hosts about a dozen 100-foot routes, each of which ends with gorgeous over-the-shoulder views across the Blue Ridge foothills. Most routes are traditionally protected and range from 5.4 to 5.12. Note: Many lines can also be top-roped, though it’s against local etiquette to build anchors using the trees atop the cliff. Instead, bring a selection of static line and webbing, and get creative in finding solid rock protection.
To get to the cliff, park at the Raven’s Roost Overlook near Milepost 11 (about 40 minutes from downtown Charlottesville). Follow the climber’s trail downhill to the base of the cliff to find the routes.