May 6th, 7th, & 8th

Buy one ticket and get three days of activities! Friday - Sunday!

Each year we assemble a wide variety of field trips with leaders who are experts in their field and who are able to make it understandable and interesting for everyone from inquisitive amateurs to accomplished naturalists. There is something for the entire family with field trips Saturday and Sunday, an expert speaker Friday Night and nighttime programs at the campground. Topics include salamanders, wildflowers, geology, birding, fishing, cultural history, mammals, medicinal plants, general natural history and much much more! 

NOTE: Opportunity to choose your field trips will begin Friday at 5PM. All field trips have a limited number of participants and will be first-come-first-serve basis. All times listed are actual departure times. Please allow extra time if you still need to register. All trips will go out regardless of weather conditions! Come prepared!

Big Changes this Year!

Now three days! Friday-Sunday!
New dinner menu including a vegetarian option.... 
Rally ticket now $10 but dinner ticket reduced to $10! 
Emphasizing Camping at Grindstone Campground...

We are expanding this year's Rally to three days to include Sunday! So come celebrate Mother's Day with us in the most beautiful place on Earth. 

Going hand in hand with this is that we are emphasizing camping at Grindstone Campground for both Friday and Saturday night with group activities at the campground including a star watch, a group meals and Sunday walks departing from the campground. Our vision is to create a community atmosphere that we all look forward to each May. So reserve your campsite now (Guides and volunteers will be in the Cottontail Loop)

Our Friday night dinner is going through some major changes. First, we have worked with the Konnarock Community Association to reduce the cost of the meal from $13.50 to $10! Secondly we have partnered with the Independence Farmers Market to provide local and excellent food that we can all get excited about! And third, we are developing the menu to offer a vegetarian option for the evening! 

With this expansion in days and reduction in dinner price we are subsequently raising the ticket of the rally from $8 to $10 with youth 17 and under are still free. 

All Saturday field trips will depart from the Konnarock Community Center while the Sunday field trips will depart from Grindstone Campground.  

Lastly we have decided that there will be NO advanced reservations for hike spots. Opportunity to choose your hikes will occur based on first come first serve beginning at 5PM on Friday evening. Each hike will have a set number of "trip tickets" available to help us limit the negative impact on trails and wildlife and ensure a quality outing for everyone. It is your responsibility to keep track of your tickets and deliver them to the respective trip leader upon departure. 

Friday Night Dinner

The 2016 menu is still in the works but it will feature a vegetarian option and some local sourced ingredients. Each year the Friday Night Dinner is prepared by the Konnarock Community Association to raise funds for the community. Please join us for this great meal and catchup with old friends. This year’s dinner is provided in partnership with the Independence Farmer’s Market www.independencefarmersmarket.org to provide high quality and locally sourced ingredients! Dinner is by pre-paid reservation ONLY.  There will be no dinners sold at the door. Registration is due by May 1st.

Featured Speaker

Join us Friday, May 6th 7:30PM for: Monarchs, Milkweeds and a Marathon Migration presented by Sarah Ross, Executive Director of the UGA Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe, Savannah, Georgia.

"Monarchs, Milkweeds and a Marathon Migration"

Butterflies and bees are among the many pollinators necessary for food production for both wildlife and humans. Worldwide, pollination is necessary for one-third of the food we eat. Native wildflowers are key in attracting these beneficial pollinators to your garden. Studies of the monarch butterfly showcase the relationship between science, education, conservation, and research. Recent discoveries reveal ecological connections driving migration behavior, life cycles and survival of future generations.

Sarah Ross is President of The Wormsloe Foundation and University of Georgia faculty in the College of Environment and Design. Sarah founded and is Executive Director of the UGA Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe, located in Savannah, Georgia. UGA-CREW conducts environmental history based interdisciplinary research integrating archaeology, ecology, cultural history, geography, geology, and engineering. She also serves on the board of BRDC.

* Special Kids Programs *

Join Darin Handy and Tina Altizer for both a Saturday morning and afternoon program designed for kids. Become wildlife detectives in the morning and explore amazing creatures of our forest in the afternoon. (Program involves the use of live permitted educational animals)

TRACKS! Join Darin Handy and Tina Altizer for a morning program designed for kids located at the Konnarock Community Center. Wildlife Detectives wanted, we need YOUR help! If you’re 3 years old, 50 years old, or 86 years old we need your help! Gather all your senses: look, smell, touch, listen, taste, and don't forget the most important thing…your thinking caps. We'll sing, laugh, and play as we voyage out to investigate hidden clues, helping us solve what kind of amazing creatures call the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia home. Through a combination of interactive activities and discussions, we'll unearth some intriguing but often overlooked signs our natural surroundings offer us. Just REMEMBER, here a track, there a track, everywhere a…wait a minute is that poop! (Snacks and crafts will be provided.)

WILD WONDERS IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD! Darin Handy and Tina Altizer will offer an afternoon kid/critter program located at the Konnarock Community Center. Whether young or young at heart, come discover some wild wonders that inhabit the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia. Keep singing, laughing, and playing as we continue our venture into the wild. Learning what makes our common or maybe not so common native wildlife some of the most unique and fascinating animals in the world. Through a combination of interactive activities and discussions, we'll look at some amazing critters we so often take for granted or find unpleasant. REMEMBER though, when out in nature, you never know what might walk...or slither by! We will take a short break along the way to catch our breath and start a campfire! (Program involves the use of live permitted educational animals. Snacks and crafts will be provided.)


Field trips depart at 8:00AM on Saturday Morning from the Konnarock Community Center. Hike options include: Birding, Hike to Mount Rogers, Fly Tying, Salamanders, Drawing from Life, Mammals of Mount Rogers, Appalachian Trail Hike, Geology, and a Field Trip to the American Chestnut Plot.

All Day Hike to Mt. Rogers: Phil Shelton, Emeritus Professor of Biology at UVA College of Wise, leads this nine mile round trip to Virginia’s highest point. Natural history, including geology, climate, plants, animals and cultural history will be discussed. Sturdy shoes, dress for high altitude weather, food, and water are necessary.

Birding: Allen Boynton, Wildlife Diversity Program Coordinator with the NCWRC (and with BRDC), will conduct bird watching at Grindstone and the Homestead Road section of Fairwood Valley.

Mammals of Mount Rogers: Karen Powers, PhD, Radford University, will check several hundred pre-set live traps in the woods near the community center and on Mount Rogers Trail in hope of examining a sample of the small mammal diversity of the MRNR.

Salamanders: Kevin Hamed, Associated Professor of Biology, Virginia Highlands Community College, Abingdon, will lead his popular morning salamander walk. We will explore the Elk Garden Trail sampling at least two different habitat types.

Drawing from Life: Art as a mode for exploring, discovering and sharing. Art and Science are identical in that they are pursuits to discover and share with others the unity that exists in the variety of things. Careful observation plays an important role in science, and in art. Join Devin Floyd, with BRDC, to explore this world, where art and science are one… where paying attention, using your senses, and observing carefully are essential to seeing the informative details and patterns that hide right before our eyes.

Geology: See evidence of epic events in Earth’s history as you walk this easy, one-mile hike along the Creeper Trail (between Green Cove Station and Creek Junction).   Join Fred Newcomb, the geology teacher at Marion Senior High School and program guide for BRDC, and be transported back three-quarters of a billion years to the supercontinent Rodinia and witness the effects of glaciers, faults, rivers, and an encroaching pre-Atlantic ocean.

MRTC Hike: Join the Mt. Rogers Appalachian Trail Club on a 2.5 mile hike from Whitetop to Elk Garden. We'll explore both natural history and trail tales. Expect to see one of our most beautiful trail sections and the best wildflower show in our area.

Fly Tying: Ernie Barker will conduct a basic fly tying course in the community center, as a representative of the Mountain Empire Chapter of Trout Unlimited. There is a $5.00 registration fee to cover the cost of materials for the 4-6 flies that will be tied.

The American Chestnut: Learn about the American chestnut and visit a local test planting. We will carpool to a site about 30 minutes from the Konnarock Community Center. There we will talk about the tragic history of the American chestnut and subsequent restoration efforts. After the discussion we will work in pairs to collect measurements and survival data. Hiking boots or work boots are a must as the site has uneven footing. Light work gloves are also recommended. (Limited to 12 participants.) Doug & Stacey Levin have been volunteering with The SWVA Restoration Branch of the American Chestnut Foundation since 2012.

Saturday Afternoon Field Trips

Field trips depart at 1:00PM from the Konnarock Community Center. Join us for these excursions: Birding, Snorkeling, Nature Photography, Phenology, Wildflowers, Biological Survey, Medicinals/Wild Edibles, Tree ID, and a Field Trip to Settlers Museum.

Birding: Join Scott Jackson-Ricketts (with BRDC) for a spring birding event on White Top. Warblers and high elevation breeding birds will be a focus. Species targets include: Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Winter Wren, and Blackburnian Warbler.

Snorkeling: Ever wonder what is really in that creek?  Join Lisa Benish as we investigate the aquatic life of a stream in a wetsuit and snorkel mask.  Bring your GoPro or underwater camera.  You will be amazed by what you see! We will be looking for an array of colorful native fish from darters to dace and searching for a Hellbender.

Phenology Hike: Join Conner McBane, Natural Resource Specialist with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy,  on a relaxing naturalist hike from Elk Garden to Brier Ridge. We will stop by an official A.T. phenology site along the way and put our observational skills to the test.

Wildflower Walk: Join the exceptional team of John Kell and Nancy Adamson on a wildflower jaunt in Grindstone Campground. Expect an abundance of blooms. Bring a hand lens and camera.

A Biological Survey of an Appalachian Forest: Participants are invited to be scientists for a day! Join Devin Floyd (co-founder of BRDC) for a half day biological survey of the rich forest at Grindstone Campground. How many different kinds of plants, animals, fungi, and other biota reside in the forests of Grindstone? What does the total of these tell us about that ecosystem? Join us to explore and discover all the living detail of a single unique Appalachian ecosystem type. Participants will help build a baseline measure of biodiversity at the site and learn how/why ecosystems get their names. We hope to answer the following questions: What plants, fungi and animals make their home here? What types of rocks, minerals and soils are present? What kind of ecosystem is this? How do we know? How does its biological richness stack up against of other Virginia ecosystems?

Medicinals and Edible Wild Plants: "The field and forest are a table, always spread"--Thoreau. Wild foragers, Katie Trozzo and Carrie Sparks, will introduce you to the world of foraging for nutritious wild foods and medicine with a focus on the plants we most commonly think of as weeds.

Nature Photography Workshop/Hike: Jay Martin, Mount Rogers NRA Wildlife Biologist and avid amateur nature photographer, will share tips on how to create more appealing photographs while leading a photography trek.  By covering topics such as lighting, composition and angle of view, this workshop will help break down the thought process of capturing images and is designed to appeal to a broad range of participants. Bring your own cameras!

Big Tree Hike: Join Cynthia Taylor, naturalist and BRDC Communications Director, and her husband Rick Taylor, an avid nature photographer, as we search for big trees, old forest, and investigate a variety of plant communities to identify as many tree species as possible on our hike.  

Tree ID: Join Evan Worrell, Field Interpreter with BRDC, on a tree identification walk. Have you ever wondered what kind of tree this or that is? Well, this program will help you identify native trees of Virginia. We will go out in the field on a tree identification hike, where we will help you better understand what trees you are looking at.

Field Trip to the Settlers Museum: Carpool from the community center to the Settlers Museum of Southwest Virginia (approx. 45 minutes) for a guided walk . “The purpose of the museum is to tell the story of the people who settled the mountainous southwest corner of Virginia and how its unique culture was developed.  Visitors discover this as they move through the museum's Visitor's Center, 1890's School and Farm.” There are two miles of trails, many restored buildings, and a cost of $5.00 per person.

Sunday Field Trips

Field trips depart at 8:00AM on Sunday Morning from the Grindstone Campground Parking Lot. Hike options include: Birding, Wildflowers and Fly Fishing!

Birding: Join Allen Boynton with a follow-up outing to the Saturday morning bird walk. Allen is the Wildlife Diversity Program Coordinator with the NCWRC (and with BRDC), birding will begin at Grindstone and continue to "birdy" locations identified the previous day.

Wild Flower Walk: Join Rally Godmother Carrie Sparks for a stroll on the Grindstone campground in search of wildflowers. The trails are guaranteed to be lined with all sorts of beauty. 

Fly Fishing: Enjoy a spring day while you learn to fly fish for trout with BRDC guide Lisa Benish. Join us for instruction and fun in learning more about the art of fly fishing.  All skill levels welcome. Lisa is an avid fly fisher who is enthusiastic about anything regarding a stream, fly rod and a fly. 

Nighttime Activities

Join us Friday night for a star watch at Grindstone Campground with BRDC astronomer Evan Worrell. On Saturday night we will be taking a silent walk through the woods to explore our nighttime senses and listen for the sounds of a dark forest. 

Friday Night Star Watch: Join BRDC astronomer Evan Worrell for a exploration of the stars. Activities begins at 9:00PM and will last one hour. We will meet at the Grindstone Campground and head towards a clearing for observation.

A Moonlit Walk in the Woods: Join BRDC for a stroll through the dark forest that will test all of your senses. We will meet at the Grindstone Campground parking lot at 8:30PM to begin our trek. Hopefully we will cross paths with owls, frogs and other creatures of the night.

Camping & Lodging

Join us at Grindstone Campground! Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally guides and volunteers will be camping in the Grindstone Cottontail Patch at sites 34, 37, 36D, 38D and 40D on Friday and Saturday night. Come pitch a tent but remember to reserve your spot online.

Although the focus is on Grindstone Campground, there are a number of other options available in the area including overnight lodging in "Downtown Konnarock" through Airbnb. Beartree Campground is also located within 10 miles of Konnarock. B&B's, Inns and Motels are available in Damascus, Abingdon, Chilhowie, Glade Spring, Marion, all with places to eat. Try www.virginiablueridge.org for information.


Konnarock Community Center

The Konnarock Community Center (Address: 6535 Whitetop Rd, Troutdale, VA 24378) From I-81, take exit 35 (Chilhowie), go south on Rt 762, passing Hardee’s. Follow this for 3.6 miles to the flashing light at intersection. Keeping straight the road becomes Rt 600, crosses Iron Mountain (disregard “Old 600″ signs)and in 7.6 miles turn left at intersection, staying on Rt 600. From here go 2/10 miles and the Konnarock community center is on the left.

Grindstone Campground

Grindstone Campground (GPS: 36.68694, -81.54111) From I-81, take exit 35 (Chilhowie), go south on Rt 762, passing Hardee’s. Follow this for 3.6 miles to the flashing light at intersection. Keeping straight the road becomes Rt 600, crosses Iron Mountain (disregard “Old 600″ signs)and in 7.4 miles turn left on to Laurel Valley Road. Travel 4.3 miles and the campground entrance will be on your right. 

Consider Supporting the Rally

The Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally is a grand tradition that dates back to 1974. Over the years it has gone through many changes but the root goal has stayed the same: to connect our community to one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth. If you would like to see this tradition continue for the next generation please consider making a donation to support the Rally. 

Donate NoW

All of our field trip leaders volunteer their time for the Naturalist Rally, so let them know you appreciate their sharing their time and knowledge with us!!


Rally Ticket

Ticket price includes Friday Night Program, Saturday Field Trips, Saturday Night Program and Sunday Program. Guides and persons 17 years or younger are FREE! 

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BUY NOW Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally Tshirts!

BUY NOW Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally Tshirts!

The 42nd Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally will highlight the 50th Anniversary of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area!! For more information visit www.mountrogersfifty.org

The Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally has adopted the Leave No Trace Principles as a guiding reference for participant and guide etiquette. Please refer to their 7 Principles for more information

The Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally has a long history, all the way back to 1974! Check out these historical brochures!

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