A Cabin in the Woods (Claytor Lake, Radford, and Pulaski, VA)

RVA Traveler | Spring / Summer 2020

I have always loved the mountains, but add a lake, and I’m in heaven. After passing Blacksburg, I arrived at Claytor Lake, which stretches 21 miles along the new River in Pulaski County. Claytor Lake State Park borders the lake along a 3-mile stretch of waterfront. The park features accommodations ranging from RV and tent camping to yurts and lodges. The cabins that I checked into are #lakelife embodied, and I didn’t hesitate to curl up in a rocking chair on the porch overlooking the water.

Though cell phone service is blessedly available in the park, the cabins offer a retreat from screens and the internet. I had the option to prepare meals inside the fully stocked kitchen, or outside on the charcoal grill, enjoying the results on the screened porch or a picnic table. For a timeout from cabin cooking, head to Al’s on First in nearby downtown Pulaski for elegant but approachable food in a casual dining room.

If you’re not staying in the park, visit Rock House Marina in Pulaski, which offers slip rentals, concessions, live music, and paddle boats and kayaks for rent.

For a break from the water, head southwest to Draper Mercantile - known as “The Merc” to locals – which has prepared food, groceries, shopping, live entertainment and more.

Radford Haunts

Start your visit to nearby Radford in the Glencoe Mansion. The refurbished 19th-century home serves as visitors' center, gallery and gift shop. Head downstairs to watch a video depicting the life of Mary Draper Ingles, who in the 1700s escaped capture by the Shawnee to return to her home in Radford. From the front porch, view a bronze statue in her likeness overlooking the river.

While you're in town, look for colorful outdoor art installations by the late Dorothy Gillespie on loan until June [2020].

Foodies should check out Radford’s Thai This Express. The food truck-turned-restaurant's menu came about when owner Mama Jang couldn’t find her beloved Thai food in the area. Dishes ranging from authentic to “adventurous” are delicious, affordable, and served by a delightful staff.

For a scary change of pace, tour St. Albans Haunted House – Mayhem Manor. The facility was built as a boys’ school in 1892, then it reopened in 1916 as St. Albans Sanatorium. Folks line up for tours of the facility each fall, and it's visited year-round by ghost hunters and paranormal investigators.

For a more wholesome experience, sit on the comfy couches at Radford Coffee Company and sip an espresso. Its walls are lined with artwork depicting children on the Rio Coco in Nicaragua who are supported by the shop’s profits.

Make your escape to #lakelife, and venture into its surrounding towns to enjoy all that Pulaski County and Radford have to offer!

Save the Date –

June 13: 2020 Claytor Lake Beach Festival. This event includes a car show, music performances, food and vendors, and it ends with fireworks. 10am to 10pm, Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin.