Monday, May 28, 2012

Big Walker Lookout

Our Virginia map had a row of green dots paralleling highway 52 west of Exit 52 (Bland, VA) of I-77.

With the hope of enjoying a scenic drive (a la the green dot designation), we headed west from I-77 (after briefly considering heading east to see what a town named Bland would look like).

For about three miles, the highway gradually rose. We caught glimpses of the valley through the heavy growth of trees and underbrush, but these brief exposures to the scenic byway were disappointing.

Then rounding a curve, we saw an overlook with several cars and motorcycles and a general store. Welcome to the Big Walker Lookout and its Country Store.

“At an elevation of 3,405 feet, Big Walker Lookout affords one of the most spectacular views of the Appalachian Mountains” (
Our parking site gave us a view to the east of untouched wilderness.

As the ridges spread before us, we imagined this view at sunset.

We could see purples, blues, and reds reflected from
the setting sun. Through the haze we could see contrasts of shades of blue, and, though muted, gave a good picture of other possibilities.

Looking toward the country store, we could see a bridge and the two towers it connected. One of the observation towers was 100 feet tall.

There was a fee to climb this tower, but we passed on that opportunity given the view through the haze at ground level.

The Country Store had the usual array of souvenirs (shot glasses, funny signs, and inexpensive jewelry), plus native American carvings, handcrafted goods,

and these metal pieces of art.

Several cookbooks and books related to the local culture were in one section, and nearby were fudge samples and locally-made jams, BBQ sauces, and salsas.

We then headed to a viewing area to take some photos looking toward the west. Here we could see patterned farmland and homes.

This photo shows the area to the left of the photo above.

This is a close-up view of the home shown in the left side of the first photo of the west view.

The attraction once boasted that you could see five states, but now most days you can see only three: Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

"The haze and the pollution are too bad now," according to Ron Kime, owner of the Country Store (Roanoke Times, May 29, 2012).

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