Two climbers with gear

The Top Climbs Along Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway

How to find amazing rock climbing areas along America’s most scenic parkway.

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.

Virginia Raven’s Roost is a well known rock climbing spot

3. The Forest 

The Forest is a bouldering area about an hour from downtown Charlottesville. It has among the highest concentrations of greenstone boulders you’ll find anywhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Crisp edges and incuts, proud overhangs, and tricky slopers provide a wide variety of climbing at grades ranging from V0 to V9. Add to that a 10-minute approach and a beautiful wilderness setting, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a perfect day out. 

To get there, park as for White Rock (near Milepost 18), and follow the trail into the forest for about a quarter of a mile. For maps and more info, check out the online guide here


The Blue Ridge offers deep shade and high elevation, making it a great place to escape the summer heat. That said, summers do tend to bring humidity, which can make greenstone feel slick. South-facing cliffs (like Love Gap) also tend to get more sun, making them better suited to winter climbing. For most zones, though, spring and fall tend to be the most popular times to climb along the Parkway.  

Local Etiquette 

Avoid building campfires, dispersed camping, or stashing bouldering pads or other gear anywhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pick up after pets and keep all dogs on a leash. Try to stick to the main approach trails to reduce erosion, and keep chalk use to a minimum whenever possible. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.