Betsy Bell & Mary Gray
525 Betsy Bell Road, Staunton, Virginia 24401
Hours: 6:00AM - 11:00PM
Betsy Bell Wilderness Park offers a magnificent view of the Shenandoah Valley from its observation platform (elev. 1,959 feet), which looks due east toward Waynesboro and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The summit has minimal picnic facilities, in addition to the observation platform, and may be reached by turning onto Betsy Bell Road from Greenville Avenue (Route 11). Where the pavement ends and turns into a gravel surface, you may turn left onto a gravel access road that winds up the western face of the mountain to the top. Drivers are advised that, while maintained at least annually, the road is narrow, often steep and loose-packed. Please exercise caution. The gravel road continues down the eastern face of the mountain, returning to the entrance, but this section is not maintained and is not passable to motor vehicles. Mountain bikers may wish to test their endurance by tackling the entire length of the access road. It offers a difficult climb, a breathtaking view, and an exciting downhill run. Hikers will find a welcome natural area to explore and may catch a glimpse of the deer herd which haunts the slopes.
Nature Trails, Overlook, Picnic Tables
Note that the road up Betsy Bell is quite steep and rough. It is not recommended that small cars or those with low clearance attempt the climb. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
The original 50-acre park was donated to the City in 1941 by Charles Catlett, who specified that "The City of Staunton shall as far as is reasonably practicable and in its considered opinion advisable, and for the common benefit of its citizens and inhabitants, keep and maintain the crest of the mountain as a perpetual memorial..." of events in the past life of the community and in memory of its citizens who have given their lives in protecting the nation.
Catlett further specified that the site be maintained in its natural state, that a "cross" cut out of the woods along the crest be maintained, and that City Council visit the crest of Betsy Bell once each Spring in remembrance of the gift. These requirements have been honored since the bequest. An additional 20 acres was acquired by the City through a donation from CSC Associates in 1995.