In 1993, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation purchased the Karlan estate and approximately 200 surrounding acres from Nelson Harris. This began the transformation of Karlan into a Virginia State Park. On Dec. 14, 1998, the park's name was changed to Wilderness Road State Park with the mission to provide rich cultural, historical, and natural resources. Also, the park sits astride the original Wilderness Road, which was cut by legendary Daniel Boone in 1775 and acted as a gateway for those traveling westward.
Nestled at the base of the majestic Cumberland Mountains, in the southwest corner of Virginia, Wilderness Road State Park offers picnicking, hiking, and nature and living history programs.
The park features the reconstructed Martin's Station, an outdoor living history museum depicting life on Virginia's 1775 frontier. Guests can enjoy the visitor center, complete with a frontier museum, gift shop and theater showcasing "Spirit of a Nation".
The Martin's Station replica, constructed in 2002, is the re-creation of Captain Joseph Martin's Fort originally built in 1775 near present day Rose Hill, Virginia. The original fortified station played a small, though significant role in the settlement of the American frontier and Westward expansion during the Revolutionary War. When you visit Martin's Station, you will see, smell, taste and touch history as it is brought to life at this small frontier outpost.
Wilderness Road State Park offers interpretive and educational programs throughout the year, highlighted by the annual Raid at Martin's Station, Heritage Festival, Candlelight Ghost Tour, Mystery Dinner Theatre and Pumpkins in the Park. The Raid gives visitors a glimpse into the 1775 Virginia Frontier and re-creates a typical Indian raid on a frontier outpost. The Heritage Festival celebrates the Appalachian and Frontier heritage of the thousands of men, women and children that helped shape this region. The Ghost Tour offers visitors a unique look at the area's history through stories based on actual people and events. The Mystery Dinner Theatre provides a three-course meal while dinner guests attempt to solve the mystery as the play develops all around them. Pumpkins in the Park features the Haunted Trail Hayride, a 30-minute journey along a wooded trail with local folklore brought to life in frightening live action scenes.
Other ammentities include picnic shelters, 100-seat amphitheater, nature playscape, ADA-certified playground, sand volleyball court and horseshoe pits. Visitors can hike, bike or horseback ride on the 8.5-mile Wilderness Road Trail or get closer with nature on the .77 mile Indian Ridge Trail. The 1870s era Karlan Mansion, amphitheater, visitor center theatre and Surber Cabin are available for weddings, meetings and other group functions.
"I have been to the park for the Candlelight Ghost Tour and the Mystery Dinner Theatre. I just love these events, I wish they could have them once a month." - Ginger Sullivan
"I have watched this park grow so much over the past 10-12 years. I really enjoy the Heritage Festival and listening to all the Bluegrass bands. And the Wilderness Road Trail is perfect for walking and riding your bicycle." - Janice Lowe
"My kids love to stop by and see the Buffalo. It's so nice to have these facilities right here in our region. The kids love the playground and the Junior Rangers program. And the Indian Ridge Trail is a great location to see some of our area's prettiest wildflowers." - Melissa Jackson