Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2018 - 42

Lori Kincaid

Rhododendron Gap, Mt. Rogers National Recreation
Area, Virginia.

5,729 feet, Mount Rogers is the
highest point in Virginia, offering panoramic vistas and many
opportunities to interpret the
geologic forces at play. The Crest
Zone, one of several managed
wilderness areas, showcases stark
rock formations at elevations over
4,000 feet. Wild ponies increase
the wonderment.
fs.usda.gov/detail/gwj/specialplaces
/?cid=stelprdb5302337
800-628-7202
Cumberland Gap National
Historical Park, Ewing
The Cumberland Gap sits so far
to the west-Virginia's westernmost point-that it's due south of
Cincinnati, Ohio, practically the
Midwest. Yet the geologic shifting
and erosion that shaped the Blue
Ridge left that one crucial southern
gateway where thousands of settlers poured through. The national
park counts more than 30 caves
among its assets, and many ways
for visitors to learn about the niche
ecosystems of the high South: wildflowers, ferns, wildlife.
nps.gov/cuga
606-248-2817
42 BlueRidgeCountry.com

New River Gorge, West Virginia.
"Cavern Corridor," along Interstate-81
A set of showy show caves lies
along the Blue Ridge like a string
of pearls, each with a name: Grand,
Dixie, Luray, Shenandoah, Skyline,
Crystal. If there's a billboard for
it along I-81, it's probably worth
a stop. Folded deep in Earth's embrace, such caverns demonstrate
how local underground conditions
create wonderfully diverse mineral
formations. Always pack a sweater
and good shoes.
virginia.org/caverns/
1-800-VISIT-SV (1-800-847-4878)
Mole Hill, Dayton
Hmm. According to some geologists, this mole hill of a mountain
may actually be one of the most recent active volcanoes in the eastern
United States. Sure, the last eruption might have been millions of
years ago-or billions, depending
on the source-but the structure of
this small cone-shaped hill fits the
volcanic profile and lies in a once
active geological zone. A short drive
from Harrisonburg.
atlasobscura.com/places/mole-hill
540-432-8935

Saltville Salt Heritage, Saltville
Eons ago, thousands of feet
below the earth, a geyser of salt
spewed upwards and was encased
in gypsum deposits about 200 feet
underground. As settlers arrived,
this fine "fossil salt" was bubbling
to the surface troughs in so-called
well fields, or upland salt marshes,
and proved a precious resource before refrigeration. Today, visitors can
see remnants the old salt industry.
The Museum of the Middle Appalachians provides context.
virginia.org/cities/Saltville/
276-496-5342
Natural Tunnel State Park,
Duffield
There's a thrust-fault zone in
southwest Virginia where geologic
plates shoved and jostled, sometimes opening small cracks and fissures. That's what happened in the
formation of Natural Tunnel, where
carbolic acid dissolved in water
slowly percolated, eating away relatively soft bedrock layers. The gigantic tunnel still has trains running
through it, but a hiking trail system
gets visitors close to interesting fea-


http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

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Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2018 - Cover3
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