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Appalachian Backroads Archive - The Taze'r

124 miles of curves, overlooks, and valleys. Watch your Back, as you are close enough to feel the Dragon's breath.

This route lets you explore Tazewell County’s Mountains of Adventure with thousands of feet in elevation changes from the crests to the valleys below. The easiest and most spectacular way to enter the Appalachian Backroads is with a ride on the Back of the Dragon. From Interstate 81 at the Marion, VA exit, take Route 16 back and forth up the Dragon’s spine to lush Tazewell County. Cresting the mountaintop, you have a spectacular vantage of Thompson Valley from this overlook.

Crab Orchard Muserum & Pioneer Park

Turning left or west on Route 91 provides a leisurely loop full of great photo fodder that winds along the valley floor and passes the Tazewell County Country Club on 637. At the intersection of 19/460, you’ll turn right, heading east. Just up the road sits Crab Orchard Museum & Pioneer Park where you can experience what it was like to travel across this vast frontier without the help of combustion - so park your ride and explore on foot. The museum offers an impressive collection of artifacts, special exhibitions, self-guided tours through our Pioneer Park, and local crafts and goods in the gift shop, all in a unique historical setting. Crab Orchard celebrates the season of Fall with a clever corn maze as well as the Frontier Christmas during the holidays.

Continuing East, the historic Town of Tazewell has a rich history dating back hundreds of years when Thomas Witten and his family created the first permanent settlement at the headwaters of the Clinch River. The stately mountains that surround the town ensure that every season is a beautiful time to visit. Be sure to do some shopping for the folks back home at charming gift stores like Between Friends and shops that feature handmade crafts from area artisans. And when you have filled up your saddlebags, it’s time to fill your tummy at Your Grate Escape.

Burkes Garden Fall Ride

For a memorable side trip just past Tazewell, you’ll find the gateway to Burke’s Garden, also known as “God’s Thumbprint.” At 3,000 feet, the highest valley in Virginia, Burke’s Garden resembles a bowl with a circumference of 10 miles and is completely surrounded by Round Mountain with just one paved road in. Local legend says that the Vanderbilts tried to purchase Burkes Garden to create their dream of Biltmore but the locals wouldn’t sell. Each Fall, Burke’s Garden hosts an Autumn Festival worth the trip.

The ride on the way to Bluefield is exhilarating, with the mountains towering on both sides of you. If you are ready for a break, the Comfort Inn is a convenient and comfortable place to spend the nights during your Appalachian Backroads tour. Enjoy free WI-FI, fresh baked cookies, a heated pool and relaxing outdoor gazebo to plan the next leg of your journey.

Bluefield sits in both Virginia and West Virginia. A stop at the Tazewell Visitor Center will provide you more info on whatever interests you as well as a chance to tour the stately Sanders House nearby. Built in 1896, the house was the centerpiece of a 3,000 acre farm and features gorgeous solid oak woodwork, original wood floors, hand-painted imported murals, and many of the original furnishings. Downtown Bluefield offers some one-of-a-kind experiences as well as a charming Farmers Market during summer months.

Route 102 hugs the border between Virginia and West Virginia, fi