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Nelson County is located in the central part of Virginia and the economy has traditionally been based on agriculture and natural resource-based industry such as timber and quarrying.
The scenic surroundings have attracted recreational development in recent years, most notably the 10,800-acre Wintergreen Resort in northwest Nelson County. Nelson County is also home to Swannanoa mansion and is the location of Walton's Mountain made famous by the television show, The Waltons. Nelson County is also home to many thriving vineyards, three craft breweries, a cidery, a whiskey distillery, and Crabtree Falls.
Fishing and camping are popular activities in Nelson County. Sections of the Tye River are also popular for whitewater boating with canoes and kayaks. The rapids are rated Class I to Class II+ Depending upon water conditions some rapids on the Tye River can approach class III.
Nelson County is approximately 30 miles from both Charlottesville and Lynchburg; 150 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.; 100 miles west of Richmond, the state capital; and 191 miles from Norfolk.