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Graves Mountain Lodge
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Reviews (114)
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Reviewed August 5, 2010

I have been to Graves Mountain Lodge irregularly since I was a 10 year old kid, about 40 years ago. The wonderful location and the friendly people haven't changed, but it seems that there has been a gradual decline since the late sixties. Maybe our society has become more upscale, and we have become more discriminating about the quality of food and and general amenities, but there is something else going on. I believe the family management has been around so long that they don't notice the gradual deterioration of food service or maintenance to the main lodge. On the ground floor terrace, the concrete has cracks, the ceiling plywood is faded, and forlorn bare lightbulbs dangle. Even the Main lodge siding is fading. In the main dining room, the ceiling is deteriorating. Fortunately, the pool is an exception, as it has been redone.

This is a potentially wonderful place, that just needs more capital investment to take care of deferred maintenance.

The other issue is value. Prices have risen significantly, so that local people are priced out. Twenty or thirty years ago many local people would come to Sunday lunch after church. No more, even despite the hearty meals. Perhaps the most glaring issue is the price of Horseback riding. A six hour ride is $220 per person. This is way out of line, especially since the concession at Big Meadows charges $65 for 2 1/2 hours.

Some hiking trail in the area are poorly maintained. Doubletop mountain, a 3,000 foot mountain immediately behind the lodge, has a trail to the summit that is very poorly marked and dangerous. In fact the trail disappears at one point and is poorly marked. This trail is in the adjacent Rapidan Wildlife management area, and not the responsibility of Graves Mountain Lodge, but one wonders if this is an amenity that should be promoted if not maintained.

This wonderful place deserves better. Hopefully the Graves family will bring in some outside consultants to recommend and implement a capital improvement plan.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled solo
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7  Thank Frugal_Traveler_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2010

I have been coming to Graves Mountain for quite some time now; repeat regular visitor, seems to be the case at this super homey unpretentious "lets get away from it all and forget the world" hideaway.
It is crucial to know what to expect before coming here, as this place makes no mistake in defining what it is.
You are in the middle of nowhere. If you are expecting a trendy resort with world class entertainment, spa and sporting events this is not for you. If you are in need of nothing but a weekend of hard sleep, silence, nature, good old american home cooking and scenery, this is just what the doctor ordered.
The trip begins with the drive out here, (and I mean.. out here) True, the surrounding cities have gotten commercialized, but The 30-40 mile range around Syria remains stark countryside. There is a nice driving range and mini golf in Ruckersville, about 45 min away however. Upon pulling up to Graves you will cross a small bridge over water that is one way. If there is a event going on (holiday concert, festival or a local student sporting event) you will park in a field, if not in a lot by the lodge. Consider yourself warned, your phone will not work here. No, I do not have T-mobile or metro pcs, I have ATT and it didnt work anywhere near Graves/old rag/Skyline. Your better off leaving the phone at home, as you should anyway, this is not the place you to go to do office work. I have not experienced a bug or mosquito problem enough to ruin my vacation here, but yes, you are in the country so bring bugspray. I did however get stung by a wasp.
I must admit I have not partaken in many Graves activities, even the dining as my yearly family hiking trip is spent bbq-ing at the house we rent - I have stayed in Boxwood, wildwind, and kite (which I believe is the newest, up to date). They are kept in very good clean condition. I have seen Peon and yes, the celebrated upper cabin, where I believe running around in a freddy kruger mask with a chainsaw out by the front door by the fire in prank should be a human rights violation.. this place is a REAL horror movie setting, TOTAL desolation in rustic-land. As for the activities, there is a petting zoo (nothing to write home about) a orchard and old fashion games a plenty, horshoe type things. And rocking chairs on porches, plenty of them. Yes, this place has a feel of old world, I probably would not want my small children on the wooden playgrounds, but I think they are more for show. I am shocked at the reviews of the pool being so fantastic - if you think this is the best pool you have ever seen you obviously dont get out much. It is a typical large pool that is usually vacant, minus the lifeguard ( a local high school kid) and the friend he snuck in for a swim. But the view from the pool area, ohh, the view. The purpose of our trip is always hiking Old Rag Mountain (which is a drive). As a city person, I must say it is almost cleansing to the soul, a weekend here, a early morning hike at Old Rag, a afternoon swim to cool off and nap at the pool, and a night BBQ with fireworks, frisbee and a visit from deer. The entertainment on holidays consists of local bands and such. Nothing crazy, but its the simple things that please sometimes. i did eat one meal in the lodge. Good greasy country cooking. The apple butter and hot apples are a must. The food and accommodations are not trendy or country-kitch like cracker barrel, they are the real deal, this is where you go for that home away from home type feel. The locals make the trip fun, and if you dont know what I mean by that go into the Syria Mercantile exchange and see the people there... yea,, your not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. The Graves are big community people. Lucky goes out of his way to please guests, and did a great job helping us out when we got lost on our hike. And special mention goes out to Glenn, the wonderful caretaker of the lodge. You will not find people this hospitable in the cities. Just ask Glenn to take you on a tour of the land; he will gladly throw y'all in his range rover, dog "booger" and bid light in tow and show you around as if you were his family. The people all seemed like regulars, each and every one of them. I havent met one person who discovered this place by adds, all by word of mouth. I can see there being a sense of community among guests in the dining hall, but if that is to much for you just stick to your own cabin; they are so spread out (some miles away from another) to say you will have your space is a understatement. I have seen a fantastic rainbow over the field after a storm, two rams fighting in the distance, and locals fishing in a nearby creek (they asked me if i wanted to join them). It may be a tad expensive for west [-], but sometimes it may be worth you spending money to have some peace and quiet, with a wooden rocking chair and porch. They do weddings, I am not sure this is the place I would want one but everyone seems to come here for the same reason, to get away from it all.
Lastly, for those wanting adventure. Take a little walk around the Kite House area. You will find a abandoned cemetery (kite family??) and wooden "gates" with crosses on top of them, leading up a hill. Yes, keep walking, keep walking. High crab grass, ticks and all. It will lead you to a abandoned condemned wooden shed, once a church-retreat. Open the door, and watch the wind blowing in from the broken window turn the pages of a bible open on the small chair in the center of the room. Look at the paintings made by small children on the walls. Ask the Graves about this place. And you thought this place was uninteresting.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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3  Thank speedotorpedo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2010

We called two hours before showing up and asked if we could have a room for the night. This really worked to our advantage as we were offered a room for a reasonable rate NOT INCLUDING the meal plan. We would of missed dinner anyways so this was fine. We were placed in a “motel style” building at the top of the hill on the right.

Our room was a dark motel room that was stuck in the 80’s – and showed much wear. The room was very spacious but the comforters, bathroom and style were old. There were beetle-like dead bugs everywhere in the room and that was a gross problem as they had run out of cots and cribs and my 2 year old had to sleep on the floor.

We arrived for the fourth of July and the place was incredibly packed with locals. There were cars all over the lawns and people everywhere. The fireworks display was average as there was a 30 second delay between each light off.

We felt like this facility was probably very popular about 20 years ago. The basketball courts were run over with weeds, the farm area was cluttered with broken vehicles, and we felt like we were at a teen summer camp.

We did think that the pool was excellent. It was clean, not crowded and the lifeguards were paying attention. The area is also great for little children as they can run around and be comfortable in such a spacious room. The swing set was extremely antiquated and dangerous with a 30 foot high metal slide and a see saw made out of rotten wood.

The food was okay – similar to what you would receive at an Old Country Buffet. Plenty of it but definitely not gourmet.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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4  Thank etandrea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 5, 2010

Very basic surroundings and penny pinching owners. They charge the locals $500 to use there pool. Not a family friendly environment!!!

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with family
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4  Thank pop45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2010

If you are looking to leave your worries behind for a few days, or a week or more, it doesn't get any better than Graves Mountain Lodge! A lovely retreat in a quintessential pastoral setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Madison County, serene Graves Mountain Lodge serves delicious food, much of it raised on the Lodge, has miles of hiking trails, ponds and streams, fishing, a petting zoo, horseback riding, or a favorite past time of many, which is sitting in a rocking chair, trying to take it all in. During our stay, we met people from all of the east coast, of whom some vacation at Graves the same time every year. The rooms are comfortable, AC worked well, the staff is very friendly, courteous, and will do everything they can to make your stay at Graves a memorable experience. Very highly recommended.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank alashas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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