On Interstate 77 in southwest Virginia.
There are two tunnels along this stretch of road, Big Walker is
to the south, East River is to the north, along the border with
West Virginia. Heading south on I-77, exit onto US 52 just
before you reach the tunnel. After you cross the mountain, VA
Rte. 717 will take you back to the interstate. Heading north,
exit onto Rte. 717, just before the tunnel.
For a look at Big Walker Mountain Lookout's glory
here. To see what it looks like now, click
Big Walker Mountain is in the middle of the
Jefferson National Forest. As you drive over the mountain
on US 52, you're traveling on a
Big Walker Mountain
funky old roadside attraction just off Interstate 77 in southwest
Virginia has been through a lot in the past few years. The Big Walker Mountain
Lookout used to offer travelers a ski-lift style ride up the
mountainside, along with a swinging bridge, and a vigorous climb up a
100 foot observation tower. A fire in 2003 burned down the
attraction's main building, and shut it down for a while... but since
then, it has risen from the ashes.
I visited Big Walker Mountain just a few months after that fire, before
the rebuilding began.
The views are simply spectacular at the top of Big Walker
Mountain. They're even more impressive from the top of the 100
foot fire tower.
During my visit, no one was around, so I
decided to ignore the no trespassing signs and climb up the tower
(a privilege which now costs $4.50). I discovered it's quite windy
at the top... but I did enjoy a great view of the mountains, and an
interesting perspective on my car, and the scorched remains of the old
I wasn't brave enough to try crossing this
old swinging bridge, that used to connect the old building with the
tower. After viewing Big Walker Lookout's new website, I see that
the bridge now connects to their new gift shop. I imagine they've
strengthened it a bit since then.
I haven't been back on Big Walker Mountain
since the lookout reopened. If you've visited recently, feel free
to leave a comment in the guestbook.
Return to Destinations >>
Big Walker Mountain