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.
"All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream." - T.K. Whipple
"And no man knew better how to make the best of a crisis, nor could any carry the most awful terror in one hand and the olive branch in the other, more successfully than he could. Few men better understood the secret spring of the human heart." - Wm Martin
"Martin's Fort was on Martin's Creek. The fort was located on the north side of the creek. There were some five or six cabins; these built some 20 feet apart with strong stockades between. In these stockades there were port holes. The station contained about half an acre of ground. The shape was a parallelogram. There were two fine springs near the station on its north side." - John Redd