Virginia Doesn’t End in Bristol: There’s a Whole Other Part!

PHOTO: Virginia's Natural Tunnel, courtesy, State of Virginia
PHOTO: Virginia’s Natural Tunnel, courtesy, State of Virginia

When the average American hears mention of “Virginia”, their mind is typically transported to the busy highways traversing our nation’s capital, some antebellum plantation or of the salty shores of the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay.

A handful of more advanced travelers may know that there is far more to the Old Dominion than Williamsburg and Appomattox; however, even most Virginians are under the false notion that the Commonwealth ends in Bristol.

Far from being the case, when one enters into the city limits of Bristol they should be mindful of the reality that the state continues west for another 85 miles… That’s right, 85 wonderous miles that Virginia tourism officials have coined as being “the Heart of Appalachia” and declares to be “one of rugged beauty in its landscapes, culture and people.”

Appalachian Magazine recently went to the region of Virginia that is in some places west of Detroit, Michigan, and closer to nine other state capitals than her own in Richmond and what we found was nothing short of incredible.

Lee County’s Pennington Gap is a town like so many other Appalachian communities – by and large forgotten by an ever passing world, yet filled with some of the greatest human beings on the planet.

A stop for breakfast at the local McDonalds and we found ourselves sitting at a table with complete strangers talking politics, religion and above all else, the place they call home. They’re proud, hardworking and think much of their corner of the globe… and for good reason.

Tucked away in this arrowhead shaped region of Virginia is everything from Cherokees, coal miners and celebrities.

Rich in musical heritage, the region is the birthplace of country music and is home to the Carter Family Fold as well as Dr. Ralph Stanley.

A burgeoning collection of ATV trails is now beginning to rival those of West Virginia and the Natural Tunnel State Park and the Cumberland Gap National Park are certain to provide an uniquely relaxing vacation.

If you enjoy adventure, this region is loaded with places to canoe and kayak, camp and see wildlife.

Enjoy the Heart of Appalachia, where the heartbeat of the region continues to reverberate through the people that travel here and witness its many charms.

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