George Washington & Jefferson National Forests


Volunteers in the National Forests

Volunteers are the heartbeat of the Forest Service. The types of work a volunteer can perform are many and varied; the only tasks a volunteer cannot carry out are those associated with law enforcement. Your talents and skills are matched with your work preference to obtain a role that satisfies you and best fulfills the mission of the Forest Service/USDA. You may work on a part-time or full-time basis. You can participate in a one-time project or serve over several months, seasons, or year-round. The commitment you make is up to you. Training may be provided to you if your job requires it. If you are retired or have summers free, you may wish to live on a national forest while you work as a volunteer. College students may perform volunteer service related to their coursework for college credit. A variety of jobs are available if you prefer the office environment. There are also numerous opportunities to perform vigorous but satisfying physical labor outdoors.

Volunteers are integral to the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests' recreation program. There are opportunities for both campground and visitor center host positions as well as more specialized work such as trail maintenance.

Current Volunteer Opportunities:

Please contact the Ranger District Offices for more specific information.

Clinch Ranger District Contact: (276) 679-8370

North River Ranger District Contact: (540) 432-0187

Volunteering opportunities include campground hosts and maintaining trails.

The North River Ranger District is seeking applications for a campground host at Brandywine. If you are interested in this position, please contact the district for more information.

Glenwood/Pedlar Ranger District Contact: (540) 291-2188

Sherando Lake Recreation Area

Looking for a cool place to spend some time during the heat of the summer months? Come volunteer at Sherando Lake Recreation Area, situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Waynesboro, Virginia. We need volunteers to host a camping loop; staff a small visitor center; or assist at the entrance station beginning April through October.

Sherando Lake Recreation Area is a moderately-sized area with 65 family camping sites, a group area for 100 people, picnic sites, picnic shelter, a 25 acre lake with sand beach for swimming, fishing, boating, a 7 acre lake for fishing, and numerous hiking trails.

In exchange for approximately 20 hours of volunteer effort per week, per person, volunteers are provided a campsite with water, electric, and sewer hook-ups. Laundry facilities are available on site. Come join our team of volunteers!

Duties will vary depending on volunteer assignment.

Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area

Looking for a smaller area? Check out the volunteer opportunities at Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area, located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Natural Bridge, Virginia. We have 2 host campsites available where water, electric, sewer, and telephone service is provided.

Have your own trailer, but looking for somewhere different to visit? We also have volunteer camping sites available May through October. Water, electric, and sewer hook-ups are available.

Cave Mountain Lake is a moderately sized recreation area with 42 campsites, a small group camping area, picnic sites, a picnic shelter, a small lake with a sand beach for swimming, and trails nearby.

Volunteers are asked to contribute approximately 20 hours per week, per person which includes assisting visitors to the area, performing light cleaning of the restrooms, preparing campsites for the next visitors, and helping out at the entrance station.

North Creek Campground

Maybe an area with a little more solitude and less development is more your style? Check out the opportunities at North Creek Campground, nestled in the mountains along North Creek, a popular trout stream. We have a space available for a campground host beginning May through October.

North Creek Campground has 16 camping sites, vault toilets, and numerous nearby hiking trails. In exchange for volunteer effort, we provide a free campsite with water, electric, and telephone hook-ups. Volunteers are involved in assisting visitors to the area, performing light cleaning of the restrooms, and preparing the campsites for the next visitors.

James River Ranger DistrictContact: (540) 962-2214

Lee Ranger District Contact: (540) 984-4101

Volunteer Campground Host 

The primary responsibilities of a Forest Service volunteer are to serve as a good host to forest visitors. This entails meeting and greeting forest visitors, helping them get oriented to the area, find a campsite and or appropriate activities during their visit or purchase maps or field guides if desired. Other duties may include light maintenance, cleaning, opening/closing campground gates, staffing a visitor center or smaller information station, running a cash register, or providing interpretive walks and talks to school children or other forest visitors.

Forest Service campgrounds on the Lee District offer campground hosts electric, water, sewer and telephone hookups. (You must bring your own telephone and make only local calls.) Also available are flush toilets, and hot-water showers. Parking spurs that can accommodate RV's up to approximately 36 feet and a sewage dump station. Host positions are available from April through November.

The Lee Ranger District has two recreation areas-- Trout Pond and Elizabeth Furnace --and one information center -- Elizabeth Furnace Information Station--staffed primarily with volunteers. The Forest Service provides a campsite with full hookups and access to a telephone line for RV users.  Most volunteer hosts plan to stay at least 1 month. We can also make arrangements for volunteers who would like to commute.

If you are interested in applying for one of our volunteer positions, contact the Lee Ranger District to request an application. Please fill it out and return it with the dates you are available and areas where you are interested in volunteering to:

Lee Ranger District
95 Railroad Avenue
Edinburg, VA 22824
For more information call (540) 984-4101

Trout Pond

This is a very popular recreation area. It has 50 campsites, 30-amp service, a large day-use area with a swim beach, and the only natural lake in West Virginia. It is located in Hardy County, near Wardensville, West Virginia. We ask our Hosts to spend a minimum of one month at this facility. Trout Pond has an on site washer and dryer for volunteer hosts to use. Host sites have full hook-ups.

Elizabeth Furnace

This recreation area has 32 camp sites, 30-amp service, 2 interpretive trails that describe the turn-of-the-century iron industry, a log cabin visitor center/interpretive association outlet and a large day-use area. Hikers and fishermen frequent this area. Elizabeth Furnace is located at the northern end of the Massanutten Mountain near Front Royal. We ask our Hosts to spend a minimum of one month at this facility. Host sites have full hook-ups. You must set up your own internet service if needed.

Trail Crew

Interested in spending a week volunteering to work on Lee District Trails? 

Check out the Massarock Trail Crew!  Sponsored by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the Massarock Trail Crew performs trail work 4 weeks each year. Join us for a week or longer.

For more information contact the Lee Ranger District:  (540)984-4101

Trail Crew Application (pdf format)

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area Contact: (276) 783-5196

There are many opportunities for internships or long-term volunteers or short-term volunteers in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Contact Viviana Ruiz, Partnerships, Volunteers and Service Coordinator at for additional information. Some of our most essential projects for the summer include:

Backcountry Rangers

Backcountry rangers serve as wilderness specialists in the Mount Rogers crest zone, Lewis Fork & Little Wilson Creek wilderness areas. Volunteers patrol the backcountry trails, meet and talk with visitors, provide information on low-impact camping, record visitor use, and maintain the trails & trailhead facilities. Work may be scheduled for ten days in the backcountry and four days off. Housing is a shared one-room, wood-heated cabin located in the backcountry with no electricity or plumbing. Backcountry Rangers work closely with our partner, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.   

Mountain Bike Trail Rangers

The Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Patrol team typically covers 17 miles of the Virginia Creeper Trail, a once former railroad bed stretching from Abingdon, VA to the North Carolina state line. This trail receives an estimated 200,000 visitors per year. Bike Patrol are highly skilled bicyclists who repair visitor bikes if something goes wrong on the trail, provide assistance to 911 emergency needs, answer questions from the public, coordinate urgent transportation when needed, educate visitors about Leave No Trace and low impact land ethics, pick up trash, install trail signs, and maintain counts of visitor use. Bike Patrol Volunteers typically work alone most of the time. Volunteer housing may be available.    

Campground Hosts

The Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is looking for volunteers to serve as a campground host at one of several campgrounds. A campsite will be provided free of charge, but volunteer hosts must provide their own living quarters; e.g. trailer or RV.

Volunteer hosts are at the campground four or five days per week, including weekends and holidays. Service hours are from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, but hosts may be called upon 24 hours a day. Days off will be scheduled for weekdays, usually Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday.

Host duties include: 

  • Greet, help orient, provide information inform visitors of rules and regulations 
  • Manage Reservations 
  • Perform minor maintenance tasks such as sweeping, mopping, shoveling and raking 
  • Cleaning restrooms/bathhouses daily
  • Inspect campground
  • Record keeping 
  • Monitor use of area 
  • Ash removal from fire pits/grills
  • Cleaning picnic tables
  • Opening and Closing of gate each day 

Hosts represent the Forest Service in public contacts, providing information and directions, and reporting vandalism and other problems to Forest Service personnel. All necessary tools, supplies, safety equipment, and training will be provided by the Forest Service.

Campgrounds in Need of Hosts in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area: 

Raccoon Branch Campground 

Raccoon Branch Campground is located in a beautiful area of southwestern Virginia with great views of the mountains—especially in the fall! The Dickey Knob Trial is located near the campground for hiking and biking to the summit of Dickey Knob. There is also access to over 400 miles of trails, including the Appalachian Trail and Virginia Creeper Trail. Raccoon Branch Campground is a perfect choice for a volunteer who wants a beautiful mountain setting while also enjoying the convenience of being adjacent to a paved state highway and having internet service. The campground host sites offer water, electric, and sewer hookup. Hosts are provided with a landline phone for communication and a fax machine for updating reservations. Satellite TV is available if you have your own service. Cell phone coverage is not available in the campground and the nearest service is at our headquarters (10 minutes).

Stony Fork Campground

Stony Fork Campground combines the beauty and tranquility of outdoors, this 51 site campground offers a peaceful setting for those looking to relax and those looking for outdoor adventure. With nearby hiking and interpretive trails (including the challenging Seven Sisters Trail), Stony Fork campground is a perfect choice for a volunteer who wants a beautiful mountain setting while also having the convenience of cell coverage and a full service town nearby. The campground host sites offer water, 50 AMP electric service, and sewer hookup. Hosts are provided with a landline phone and fax machine for communication and receiving reservation updates. Satellite TV is available if you have your own service. Internet is available in the campground with a Wi-Fi card for your computer.

Beartree Campground

Beartree Campground offers a relaxing, family-friendly atmosphere with 73 family sites within the campground for tents, trailers and RVs in two loops. With over 400 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, as well as numerous fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing areas throughout the recreation area, this campground is perfect for people who want to enjoy an assortment of different outdoor activities. Located near the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway, the campground is just 5.5 miles to Konnarock,Virginia, nine miles from Damascus, Virginia and 23 miles from the larger town of Abingdon, Virginia. It is also only 11.5 miles to the Mount Rogers  National Recreation Area's Whitetop Station, and 9 miles to the Green Cove Station. Full hookups are available for host sites. Wifi will be available for the host, in addition to a landline and full use of a washer and dryer, free of cost. 

Grindstone Campground

With 100 family sites within the campground for tents, trailers and RVs in three loops, Grindstone Campground is the perfect place to be for recreation of all kinds. In addition to Grindstone being one of the best birding sites in the region, it is located near over 400 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, as well as numerous fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing areas. Sitting only 2,000 feet below Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia, Grindstone is a mixed forest of hardwoods, hemlocks, and rhododendrons with beautiful views. The campground has plenty of places to explore both in and out of the forest. Located about 16 miles from Chilhowie, Virginia, 24 miles from the town of Marion, Virginia, only 6.3 miles away is Konnarock, Virginia, and 23 miles from Abingdon,Virginia. It is also only 11.5 miles to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area's Whitetop Station, and 9 miles to the Green Cove Station! Full hookups are available for host sites. 

Hurricane Campground 

Called one of Southwest Virginia’s best kept secrets, Hurricane Campground is a small, 24- site campground located near over 400 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, as well as numerous fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing areas. Only about five miles from Sugar Grove, Virginia and 15 miles from the larger town of Marion, Virginia, Hurricane Campground has the remote setting, without being too far from town and only two miles from a paved state highway. Full hookups are available for host sites. 

Hussy Mountain Horse Camp

Hussy Mountain Horse camp is a rustic campground for equestrians. In the east fork of the Dry Run Valley, the area is known for its cool climate. With parking for vehicles and trailers, picnic tables, a fire ring, horse stalls, hitching rails, and space for fishing, wading, and watering horses, this campground provides many opportunities for recreation. There is also access to the Highlands Horse Trail. Hussy Mountain Horse camp is perfect for someone who wants a high elevation mountain setting and doesn’t mind being in a remote area with limited services. While there are no hookups for RV’s or cell service, a satellite phone and two-way radio are provided for communication. 

Fox Creek Horse Camp

Fox Creek is a rustic camp for equestrians.  It provides the unique opportunity to ride or hike from your campsite and access hundreds of miles of the finest trails and scenery in the eastern United States.  It is a great volunteer position for someone who wants a high elevation mountain setting and doesn’t mind being in a remote area with limited services.  There are no hookups for RVs and no cell phone service,  A satellite phone and 2 way radio are provided for communication.  Potable water and a dump station are available at a nearby campground (4 miles) and a generator is needed for electricity.  Laundry services and a landline phone are available about 5 miles away.  

Collins Cove Group Horse Camp

This primitive campground with easy access to the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail consists of two large grassy fields with wooden picnic tables, fire rings, and hitching rails. While there are no hookups for RV’s, there are plenty of opportunities for recreation while being surrounded by beautiful scenery. This campground is perfect for equestrians who don’t mind being in a remote area and living simply.  

Raven Cliff Recreation Area

From the 200 foot sandstone Raven Cliff to the 1810 iron ore furnace, this recreation area is off the beaten path but worth the effort. With a small primitive campground, picnic area, and large day use area, this area is perfect for a volunteer who enjoys relaxing in nature, away from modern troubles. Cripple Creek runs through the picnic area and is popular for fishing, wading, and tubing. Large open fields are great for sports and picnics. As this is a primitive site, there are no hook-ups available, and the area does not have cell phone service. This area is located 16.5 miles from Wytheville, VA. This position is a great opportunity for someone who loves to “rough it” and enjoys pushing themselves to live simply. 

Comers Rock Recreation Area

Located on top of Iron Mountain at 3800 feet, Comers Rock Recreation area has a small primitive campground and historic picnic area. The log picnic shelter with a large stone fireplace was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp. Within walking distance of the campground are long distance hikes in Dry Run Wilderness, 360 degree views from Comers Rock Overlook and former fire tower, and the Unaka Nature Trail. Less than two miles away is Hale Lake for fishing, hiking, and canoeing. Mountain biking trails are also accessible from this recreation area. As this is a primitive site, there are no hook-ups available, but the area does have limited cell phone service. This area is located 21 miles from Wytheville, VA. This position is a great opportunity for someone who loves to “rough it” and enjoys pushing themselves to live simply. 

Visitor Center Staffing

Visitor center volunteers provide visitor information, sell interpretive materials, maintain a clean front desk area, answer phone calls, educate visitors on trail safety and hazards, and conduct light trail maintenance. Volunteers serve six to eight hours per day for two to five days per week. This allows time to experience the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area on your days off! Housing and reimbursement may be provided as necessary. 

The Friends of Mount Rogers to enhance visitor experience and for the purpose of supporting the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. For additional information on this volunteer opportunity, contact the Friends of Mount Rogers President, Ed Pietrzak at or Christa Himes, Friends of Mount Rogers Business Manager at

Opportunities are available at these visitor centers: 

Whitetop Station Visitor Center

Whitetop Station at Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is a replica historic train depot and serves as a visitor center and rest area for visitors along the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile trail from Whitetop to Abingdon, Virginia that hosts over 200,000 cyclists annually. This building serves as a starting point for many visitors along the Virginia Creeper Trail as well as many other visitors to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. 

Green Cove Station Visitor Center

Green Cove Station Visitor Center is an original train depot that served as post office, general store, and freight office. It is located on the scenic Virginia Creeper Trail, a popular ‘Rails To Trails’ trail used by bikers, hikers and horseback riders. The hours of operations are varied during the summer season. Sites at Raccoon Branch and Hurricane Campground are available for housing. 

Pat Jennings Visitor Center

The Pat Jennings Visitor Center is located in a peaceful mountain setting adjacent to the Appalachian Trail. With many activities available in the area including hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, sight-seeing, bird watching, trout fishing, and swimming, there are a wide range of visitors passing through the center each day. 

Wilderness Boundary Maintenance

The Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is seeking one or two volunteers with exceptional backcountry orienteering skills to locate boundary lines and update signs in our three designated Wilderness Areas. This is a physically demanding task on steep slopes and possibly in thick understory vegetation. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to play a significant role in Wilderness resource and values protection. Volunteers will be paired with another volunteer or employee to accomplish this work. 

Events Planning

Work with the Forest Service and one or more partner organizations to plan and implement an event to celebrate the cultural and natural treasures of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Possible events include:

  • Winter festival at Whitetop Station (promote year-round use of the site & trail)
  • Harvest festival at Settlers Museum (fall harvest at the 1790's working farm)
  • History Field Day at Settlers Museum (migration of settlers to area)
  • Spring Thaw festival at Grindstone Campground (spring wildflowers)
  • Camping Workshop at Beartree Campground (invite outfitters to showcase products available?)
  • Music Festival at Grindstone or Whitetop Station (traditional music, storytelling)

Trail Crew

Trail crew volunteers work together to perform general trail maintenance on a variety of trails throughout the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Volunteers learn how to construct and maintain various types of trails. They build trail drainage structures, construct tread, use primitive tools in wilderness areas, clear vegetation and get in great shape! A skilled supervisor will assist the crew. Volunteer housing is available. Housing could consist of either a full hook up campsite for volunteers with their own RV or shared housing in a 3 bedroom/1 bath facility. If housing is provided, we request a minimum of 24 hours of work per week. 

Mt Rogers NRA partners with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

G.P.S. Data Collectors

G.P.S. data collectors must have some previous G.P.S experience or knowledge of the Global Positioning System. Volunteers collect G.P.S. data on the 400-mile trail system throughout the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Data may also be collected for various wildlife & range management projects. Volunteers may be involved with data management and map production. Volunteer housing is available. 

Litter Removal

Adopt a Forest Service road or trail. Roadside and trailside litter significantly mar the beauty of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, as well as cause resource damage to the wildlife habitat including streams. 

Eastern Divide Ranger District Contact: (540)552-4641

Warm Springs Ranger District Contact: (540) 839-2521

Available volunteer positions include campground host, fee collection, interpretation and maintenance. 

As a volunteer campground host you would provide information and assistance to campers, monitor the campground, and perform light maintenance duties. Volunteers at the Bolar Mountain Recreation Area enjoy full hook-ups in a spectacular setting.  Other less developed host opportunities include the Hidden Valley and Blowing Springs Campgrounds.

For more information contact Emily Ellis at the Warm Springs Ranger District, 422 Forestry Road, Hot Springs, Virginia 24445. (540) 839-2521


Photo of volunteers working on the PIT project on the Lee Ranger District.

The George Washington/Jefferson’s National Forests Passport in Time Program.

Passport in Time is a national program for public archaeology sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service. The George Washington/Jefferson National Forests host a PIT project every year, usually held in July. We take volunteers from all over the country and Canada, many with no previous experience, and teach them the science of archaeology. Over the past several years, we have excavated two Native American village sites, lithic quarry sites and prehistoric camp sites to learn more about the Native American settlement patterns of the past several thousand years. Volunteers are our lifeline. During the 2003 field school, volunteers contributed over 4000 hours in a two week period! We often have repeat volunteers, and we make every attempt to pair inexperienced folks with those who have worked on previous projects with us.

Photo of a view of an excavated portion of a site.

The main focus for the Passport in Time program is to allow interested members of the public an opportunity to participate in a scientific excavation, including learning excavation methodology, artifact identification and processing, map making, photography and even some surveying or GPS experience.

No prior experience is required to participate, however, certain fragile archaeological features may require experienced archaeologists or volunteers to excavate them. The forest archaeologists move the project location every year or two to explore a diverse region of western Virginia.

Children, with a responsible adult, are encouraged to participate in the GW/Jeff PIT program. However, they should come with a clear understanding that this is serious, scientific work that can lead to expanding our knowledge of past lifeways. Some children find the experience fascinating, while others learn that archaeology is hard work and too much like school for their tastes!
Interested people can learn more about Passport in Time, and sign up for the project, by visiting
Photo of excavation during a PIT project.