Developed Areas Along the Parkway

Virginia BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
Developed Areas

Otter Creek &
James River


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The Otter Creek and James River Recreational Area is a beautiful environment with an abundance of trees and the gentle sounds of Otter Creek as it winds on its trip to the James River. This area provides visitors with a restaurant and gift shop, visitor information, hiking trails, campground, campfire talks and restrooms.

As Otter Creek descends to the James River, the Blue Ridge Parkway dips to its lowest elevation, roughly 650 feet above sea level.  A great area to stop and explore.

Otter Creek Campground

Located at milepost 60.8 along the Parkway, this campground has 45 tent and 24 trailer sites, restrooms, water, and a campfire circle. Many of the campsites are along the banks of Otter Creek.  Tent sites 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 14 are along the banks of the creek.  RV sites 59, 62, 63, 64, 67, 68 and 69 are also along the banks of Otter Creek. 

The campfire circle is near tent site 31.  The restrooms/water are closest to tent sites 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 as well as RV sites 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51 and 52.  Tent site 44 is handicapped accessible.  The cost per night is the usual Blue Ridge Parkway price of $16.  The campground is usually open April to the first week of November.

The northern terminus of the 3.5 mile Otter Creek Trail is located in the campground, near the creek side tent sites.  However, for those not camping, there is another trailhead located near the restaurant. 

Otter Creek Restaurant & Gift Shop

Open seasonally from May 1 to October 31, the Otter Creek Restaurant has been in business since 1958.  Located at milepost 60.8 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, make a stop for some good country cooking.  After your meal, stop by the gift shop for a memento of your visit and then take a stroll along the Otter Creek Trail.

James River Visitor Center

This visitor center is located at the James River Water Gap near the Blue Ridge Parkway bridge over the James River.  The bridge was opened in 1965.  The visitor center is open from May to the end of October.  There is a Parkway information desk and displays accompanied by an interpretive area discussing topics of the natural as well as cultural history of this area.

The large grassy area below the visitor center and next to the James River makes a great place for a picnic.  Three trails start/finish at the visitor center.  The 0.5 mile Trail of Trees, the 0.2 mile James River Canal Trail and the southern terminus of the 3.5 Otter Creek Trail are all accessible here.

Hiking Opportunities

Otter Creek Trail (3.5 miles) parallels the Parkway and Otter Creek as it winds from Otter Creek Campground to the James River Visitor Center. Most sections of this trail are easy to hike and can be reached from three overlooks along the Parkway; milepost 61.4 Terrapin Hill Overlook, milepost 62.5 Lower Otter Creek Overlook and milepost 63.1 Otter Lake Overlook.

Otter Lake Loop Trail (0.9 miles) provides scenic views of Otter Lake. This is also a good trail for watching wildlife. This is a great short hike for almost everyone including kids.  The trailhead for the loop can be accessed at either of the Otter Lake parking areas.

Trail of Trees (0.5 miles) begins near the James River Visitor Center and wanders through a shaded stream drainage. Trail signs identify many of the trees and shrubs of the river valley. This trail also has a beautiful stone overlook with a spectacular view of the James River.

James River Canal Lock Trail (0.4 miles round trip) begins at the Visitor Center and crosses the James River on a walkway built beneath the bridge. The restored Battery Creek Lock, located a short distant from the bridge, is typical of those constructed in the 1800s as part of the James River and Kanawha Canal. This canal, with 90 locks, helped make the river a major transportation corridor before the Civil War. Exhibits at the Battery Creek site explain how locks were used to raise and lower boats to adjust for the changing elevation of the river.

All of these hikes are featured in the hiking guide book Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway

Bridge over Otter Creek

Bridge over James River

Otter Lake


Developed Areas Along the Parkway

Virginia BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway

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