Spring VAR Information

Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center
772 E Hungry Mother Dr, Marion, VA.

From I-81 exit 47, follow US 11 (N Main St) south for 1.1 miles. Turn right onto VA-16 north (Park Blvd), following signs to Hungry Mother State Park. After 3.8 miles, turn right into the park entrance, just after passing Hungry Mother Lake. You do not need to pay an entrance fee. If there is a ranger on duty, tell them you are passing through the park to Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center. Follow the main road through the park (VA-348). Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center is on the left, 1.5 miles beyond the state park entrance. Registration is at the cabin on the left, just after the bridge.

Check for precise schedule details at the registration area.


Friday Registration opens 2:00 pm
Self-guided cave trips
Vertical Workshop sponsored by the Eastern Region of the NCRC
Evening program: Dr. Fred Webb on “The Geology of Smyth County”
Saturday Guided and self-guided cave trips
Conservation project
Vertical Workshop sponsored by the Eastern Region of the NCRC
Banquet dinner
Evening program: Mike Futrell on “The Unknown Caves of Southwest Virginia”
Live music from The Kind
Sunday Continental breakfast provided by Front Royal Grotto (minimum $3 donation)
VAR business meeting
Site closes 12:00 pm
Self-guided cave trips

Plenty of flat space for tent camping and RVs will be available (sorry no RV hook-ups). We also have a cabin available for rent as well as two large bunkhouses that offer communal sleeping arrangements. Showers, flush toilets, and porta-potties are available on site. Several hotels are available nearby in Marion.

Site Rules
We are guests at HMLRC and Walker Mountain Grotto asks that attendees be respectful of the camp, and of the neighbors across the road.

  • No pets.
  • No indoor smoking or tobacco/nicotine products.
  • No campfires in the tent camping area. A communal campfire will be maintained near the dining hall.
  • The event is BYOB. Please be discreet with your drinks.
  • Official camp quiet time is 10:00 pm to 8:00 am. Out of respect for the camp and our neighbors across the creek, please keep quiet in the tent camping area after 10:00 pm. Indoor and outdoor space for socializing after 10:00 pm is available at the top of the hill in the vicinity of the dining hall and bunkhouse.

Saturday evening musical entertainment will be provided by Blacksburg’s The Kind.

Saturday evening dinner
Pork barbecue sandwich and plenty of sides (vegetarian option available by request).

We have verbal commitments from Speleobooks and Inner Mountain Outfitters. Be sure to tell them thanks when you see them!

Guided and unguided caving trips, vertical workshop, a conservation project of a clean-up at a local cave, plenty of hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and more – all within short drives of the campground.

Professionally bound with full color cover, 78 pages, 18 contributors, 35 pictures, event information, history, biology, geology, non-caving activities, and maps/descriptions for 35 caves, including many never-before-published maps.

Of course! They will feature the “Hungry Bear” event logo. Available to pre-order with early registration.

Door prizes
Of course!

Other Attractions
If you don’t want to go underground, southwest Virginia has plenty of other things to do outdoors, such as hiking, bicycling, rock climbing, canoeing, whitewater kayaking (dependent on local water levels), world-class trout fishing, and more.

  • There are 18 miles of hiking and mountain bike trails available in Hungry Mother State Park, immediately adjacent to the VAR site. Check out the trail map here. You can easily head out on a mountain bike ride right from your campsite!
  • The newly reopened cliffs at Hidden Valley outside of Abingdon boast some of the best rock climbing available in Virginia.
  • Grayson Highlands State Park and the Mount Rogers high country offers outstanding opportunities for hiking and features the highest mountains in the state.
  • Hungry Mother Adventures (2382 Old Lake Road, Marion, VA), located just outside the state park, offers zipline tours and tubing on the Middle Fork of the Holston River. For more information call (866) 305-1953.

Many other ideas for outdoor activities are featured in the guidebook!