Getting Back to Nature in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

In recent years, I’ve made a concerted effort to explore more the U.S.; to discover those amazing spots that can be found throughout my country. Most recently, that meant a return to my oft-ignored home region – Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Not ignored by visitors, no they’ve discovered the magic of Southwestern Virginia by the thousands. No, it was ignored by me I’m sorry to say. Since I grew up there, I thought I knew what to expect, but over the course of a long weekend I realized that I was sorely mistaken. Not only have the communities throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge changed dramatically over the last two decades, but that trip reminded me of how remarkable the natural escapes are as well. The Appalachian Trail, which snakes through the Blue Ridge, truly is one of America’s great natural treasures and is always a treat to explore, but especially so on my adventurous hike to one of the state’s most photographed viewpoints.

Getting There

To aid me not only in the short but fun road trip from the Washington, DC metro region down to Southwestern Virginia, the fine folks over at GMC let me borrow a new Sierra Denali. Now let’s be clear, I’m no gear-head and I can’t go on for hours and hours comparing the intricacies of the technical side of the automotive world. No, instead I’m a normal consumer and I know what I like and don’t like, and for me the Sierra Denali was a fun truck to drive and the perfect partner in my Blue Ridge adventures. Plenty of room both inside and out, the Sierra Denali was made for the kind of trip I was on and I can’t imagine having tackled the weekend without it.

Honestly, I never thought I’d ever write about a tailgate, but here we are and yes, it really is worth mentioning. The Sierra Denali is the ideal truck for outdoorsy adventures like the one I enjoyed in the Blue Ridge, and the tailgate plays a big role in that thanks entirely to its remarkable functionality and loading features. Other than the tailgate though, the features of the truck that helped me the most included:

  • Head-Up Display
  • All-New Traction Select System allows the driver to choose from preset drive modes that have been tailored for different terrain or weather conditions.
  • WiFi
  • New high-intensity LED headlamps
  • Extremely comfortable Forge leather-appointed seating
  • Premium Bose audio system

So, what did the GMC and the features of the Sierra Denali help me accomplish? Not only was it the perfect conveyance to and from Roanoke, but it was my partner in crime as I tackled one of the longest day hikes I’ve done in a long time.


The AT

Virginia’s Blue Ridge is one of the great outdoor adventure centers of the country, and if you love exploring nature there are any number of incredible experiences to enjoy. I opted for something I always love to do, spending some time hiking on one of the most popular trails in the region. The Appalachian Trail winds its way through the Blue Ridge, and one of the most picturesque sections is the 8 mile round-trip hike to McAfee Knob. Located in Catawba, the views at the end of the hike are amongst the most photographed on the Appalachian Trail, but the entire hike is a fun way to better experience the outdoorsy side of the region.

In addition to other sections of the Trail to hike, there are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking, rafting and just about anything you’d ever want to do outside.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

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