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Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch


Elevation: 2102 ft.

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch is one of over 200 hawk watch sites in North America monitored by the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA). The primary mission of this hawk watch is to collect raptor count data during fall migration. A small group of local volunteers man the watch August 15 through November 30 and visitors are welcome! Peak migration occurs in the final two weeks of September and first two weeks of October. During this time hundreds to thousands of migrating raptors can be observed per day.

Fourteen different raptor species migrate through Rockfish Gap. Broad-winged hawks fly over in the greatest numbers, but other hawks, such as Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, and Red-tailed hawks, can also be seen. Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles are regularly seen here. Peregrine falcon, American Kestrel and even Merlin also migrate through here as well as Osprey and Northern Harrier. In addition to raptors; songbirds, common nighthawks, swallows, and even insects such as Monarch butterflies and dragonflies are observed here in migratory flight.

In addition to the birds, the easily accessible, mountain-top location provides a panoramic view of Rockfish Gap, the Shenandoah Valley to the west, and the Piedmont Region to the east. Although most of the birds fly well above eye-level, many do come in close for awesome photo opportunities!


  • The Hawk Watch occurs seasonally August 15 – November 30. The best time to view migrating hawks is between 9am and 3pm.
  • Binoculars or spotting scope, sunscreen, snacks, drinks, and a chair or blanket are recommended.
  • The site is on the grounds of an old inn that is no longer in operation. Only visit during the day during the Hawk Watch season.


Physical Address: 158 Afton Circle, Afton, VA 22920

From Charlottesville, head west on I-64, take the US-250 East exit and merge onto US-250 East, in 0.3 miles, turn right onto SR-610/Howardsville Tpk, turn right onto Afton Circle, and park near the old hotel sign. The hawk watching area is along the north side of the building, facing I-64.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch Coordinator Vic Laubach: 434-249-2927,
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Hours of Operation: August 15 - November 30, 8am - 5pm (Aug.- Oct.) and 9am - 4 pm (Nov.)

Birds Recently Seen at Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch (as reported to eBird)

  • Eastern Phoebe
  • American Crow
  • Common Raven
  • Barn Swallow
  • Carolina Wren
  • European Starling
  • House Finch
  • Song Sparrow
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Northern Cardinal

Seasonal Bird Observations


  • Parking