Virginia June 09, 2016
The Grand Canyon Of The South Is Right Here In Virginia And It’s Breathtaking
Looking for a great family road trip idea this summer? You can save some money on gas and skip the trip to Arizona, because the Grand Canyon of the South is actually right here in Virginia. Many long-time residents of Virginia are not aware that this national treasure exists. Located along the Virginia/Kentucky border, Breaks Interstate Park is one of the most exquisite sites in the state and is sure to make for a memorable visit.
Located in Jefferson Forest, Breaks Interstate Park is located in both southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia. This bi-state park is only one of two of its kind in the entire country. The park is referred to as the Grand Canyon of the South because it is the deepest gorge that can be found east of the Mississippi River.
The body of water that flows through the gorge is the Russell Fork River. This tributary is 51.9 miles long and flows through the Appalachian Mountains before eventually forming Big Sandy river along with the Tug Fork.
Famous pioneer Daniel Boone is credited with being the first European to discover the Breaks in 1767. Frontiersman such as Boone would refer to passages through the mountains as "breaks," which is the reason for the park's name. These breaks were truly rare finds. The present day park covers 4,600 acres. The gorge itself measures 5 miles and plunges an impressive 1650 feet and makes for a spectacular view.
Are you wondering about the best way to explore the Breaks? There are so many options! Visitors can choose among 25 miles of scenic hiking trails, all varying in difficulty. A majority of the trails are about one mile long, which is perfect if you are traveling with younger hikers.
For those looking to explore the area on wheels, there's the Mountain Bike Trail which offers incredible scenery and overlooks. This 12-mile loop trail ranges in variety and difficulty.
The adventurous soul can even opt for white water rafting through the heart of the canyon. Take caution: these rapids are some of the wildest and most difficult rapids and should only be attempted by experienced rafters. This extreme activity is available on Saturdays and Sundays during the first few weekends in October, as water is released from the John Flannagan Dam to create these incredible rapids.
Whether you participate in one of the park's many activities or simply decide to marvel at the view, there truly is no wrong way to experience the beauty that is Breaks Interstate Park.
Have you had the opportunity to visit Virginia’s Grand Canyon? If so, please feel free to share your experience there. We’d love to hear from you!