A rewarding destination for day-trip adventurers or long-distance hikers
Buena Vista, Va.
Nestled on the western slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the southwestern corner of Rockbridge County, Virginia, Buena Vista is an area of great natural beauty. Bounded on the west by the Maury River, a major tributary of the James River, and partially surrounded by the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests, the area offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreation activities. This friendly city, located just 9 miles west of the Appalachian Trail crossing at US 60, encourages A.T. hikers to come into town and stay a while.
There is a great Trail Angel network often offering hikers rides into town (and back) to take advantage of the abundant services Buena Vista has to offer. The local post office keeps a hiker’s box in the lobby, where folks can drop packaged food for hikers to take, while the library and Maury River Senior Center offer computer access, maintain a guest book, and are friendly and welcoming places for hikers. Many downtown merchants post “Welcome A.T. Hikers” signs in their windows, and hiker logs can be found in many businesses, where owners and local residents are anxious to engage hikers in conversation and listen to their stories. Several businesses offer mail drops for hikers since the local post office is closed on Saturday. The city’s own Glen Maury Park, a 315-acre jewel with camping and other recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike, offers heavily discounted rates and free showers for A.T. hikers wanting to spend a night in town.
Celebrate Buena Vista, a volunteer, grassroots organization, took the lead in applying for designation as an Appalachian Trail Community. This organization is dedicated to providing Buena Vista with the opportunities to strengthen local pride by promoting the community, celebrating its history and natural heritage, and encouraging its revitalization through the creation, management and sponsorship of events and programs. Their primary focus is Mountain Day, an annual street festival which brings several thousand visitors to the community every year on the second Saturday of October. The A.T. is an important component of this annual festival, reinforcing and celebrating the community’s relationship with the Trail.
The A.T. Community application process served as a catalyst in providing a framework for collaboration among organizations that do not usually partner and has strengthened regional relationships. The advisory committee that supported both Buena Vista’s and Glasgow’s designation is a regional one, bringing together representatives from both local communities and governments, as well as the U.S. Forest Service, the NBATC, Rockbridge Regional Tourism, Rockbridge Regional Library, and the ATC.
As a designated A.T. Community, Buena Vista has made strides to strengthen the relationship between the community and the Trail in many ways:
- Playing a role in increasing the visibility and awareness of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club and its mission to local residents, thereby helping to expand its membership.
- Expanding their offering of hiker services by engaging other local organizations, residents, and businesses; encouraging hikers to make themselves at home in their community.
- Encouraging hiker-related businesses to locate in Buena Vista.
- Partnering with Glasgow, a nearby A.T. Community, to provide regional support to hikers in terms of services, events, etc.
The City of Buena Vista revised its Comprehensive Plan to place more emphasis on the area’s recreational and outdoor opportunities, their benefit to the community, and ways to enhance and expand them. Language was also included which directly referenced the Appalachian Trail and its importance to the community. Additionally, the city received a grant through the A.T. Community program to create a brochure that informs hikers about services available in Buena Vista, and to construct an informational kiosk at the trailhead wayside on Long Mountain.
Learn more about the City of Buena Vista
An itinerary for your visitors
Enjoy the wooded hiking and biking trails, an Olympic-sized pool, two campgrounds, the historic Paxton House, and several pavilions that host a variety of events each year, all at Glen Maury Park – just footsteps from downtown!
Feel like walking, biking, or jogging? Take in magnificent views of the Maury River and surrounding wildlife on the River Walk. The River Walk connects downtown shops to Glen Maury Park so you never have to get back in the car!
Grab a bite or a drink at one of our many eateries! From rolled ice cream to the best BBQ in town, there is something for everyone!
Pick up the perfect gift in one of our downtown shops including vinyl creations, antiques, boutique gifts and trinkets, and locally sourced treats! There is no doubt you will find the perfect gift to send home to Mom!
Visit some of the most photo worthy and historic places in town! Some of these places include:
The 2 murals on 21st street created by local artists to depict Buena Vista in its most notable features.
The historic Paxton House in Glen Maury Park. Built as a residence by Elisha Paxton between 1828 and 1831, this building is a must see!
The rail caboose in Glen Maury Park. Buena Vista is known for being an industrial rail town in its heyday so this beautiful, red caboose cannot be missed.
The Robot Cyborg Muffler Man on 16th of Sycamore. This interesting statue was built using all recycled metal materials by Auto Recyclers company where the statue is housed.
Southern Virginia University. Before becoming SVU, this splendid building on the hill dates to the 1800s and was once known as Buena Vista Hotel and Southern Seminary women’s college.
Community events, club stewardship events, guided hikes, festivals, farmers markets etc.
Musicians and fans of Bluegrass and Old-Time music gather the 2nd weekend each June for the Maury River Fiddlers Convention in Glen Maury Park. It’s a weekend full of music, camping, pickin’ and fun!
May through August music lovers of all ages come together for the Fridays in the Park concert series. Concerts are held one Friday a month and feature bands of all genres. Folks enjoy good music, food vendors, adult beverages, and lots of dancing! Visit @GlenMauryPark on Facebook for the full line up.
Every October, on the second Saturday, Buena Vista is the location for Mountain Day, a yearly street festival focused on lost arts hosted by the Buena Vista Arts Council. A regional tradition, Mountain Day hosts 7,000 – 10,000 people who enjoy Craft Demonstrations, Live Music & Dance, Local History, Fine Art, Local Foods, Community Organizations, Children’s Activities, Food Vendors, And More! Additional details can be found at www.MountainDay.org
For nearly 50 years, Buena Vista has been home to the regional Labor Day Parade and Festival. The day starts with a kids fun run, 5k race, and a parade through town. The parade finishes at Glen Maury Park where Labor Day Fest begins with political speeches, live music, kid’s funs, food vendors, a beer garden, and more! If you didn’t think that was enough fun, the day ends with a bang – fireworks! Visit @GlenMauryPark on Facebook for the full line up!
Visit us on Facebook to see what current events are happening
@buenavistavirginia and @glenmaurypark
Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club
Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC) is a volunteer based hiking club that provides opportunities for recreational hiking on the Appalachian Trail(A.T.) and other trails in central Virginia. NBATC volunteers maintain over 90 miles of the A.T. as well as other hiking trails in central Virginia for the benefit of current and future hikers. Learn more and become a member at https://www.nbatc.org/
ATC Volunteer Program
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help maintain the A.T. and assist in our visitor center and headquarters. Opportunities range from greeting visitors and providing information about local hikes to joining a Trail crew for week-long maintenance trips, gaining first-hand experience in what it takes to keep the A.T. open and enjoyable for millions each year. Learn more at appalachiantrail.org/volunteer.