The 120,000-acre Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in the Southwest Virginia Highlands holds over 400 miles of trails. The area doesn’t have the typical ecological make-up of Southern wild lands, as expansive windswept grasslands with fields of rocky outcroppings—that many have compared to the big sky country of Montana—afford endless views of the region’s tallest peaks, plush backcountry camping spots, and the occasional run-in with wild ponies. In late spring into early summer the area is ripe with blueberry patches and thousands of acres of blooming rhododendron. The Appalachian Trail runs right beneath the summit of Mt. Rogers, at 5,729 feet the highest mountain in Virginia. An easy portal to this natural wonderland is Grayson Highlands State Park.