Life at the Station

The Station is a vibrant community of researchers, instructors, and students from around the world.  Residents live, work, eat, and play together in a unique mountaintop setting that is conducive to collaboration and mutual inspiration.  


Dorm Cottage


A variety of modern and rustic dormitory, apartment, and private cottages are available. All dormitories and cottages have electricity and running water, private or shared baths, and basic furniture.  Linens and toiletries are NOT provided, and residents are responsible for housekeeping during their stay.  Some accommodations have electric heat, while others rely on fireplaces (firewood is provided). Cooking is permitted only in cottages with kitchenettes. Students are often housed together in rustic, eight-person cottages with double-occupancy rooms and a shared living room and bath. The residential cottages built early in the Station's history were named (mostly) for naturalists from each of the southern U.S. states. Click here to learn a bit about the namesake of each.


During much of the summer season (ca. May-August), a full-service dining hall serves three meals a day.  When the dining hall is open, all residents are required to join the board plan, which includes dinner the night of arrival through lunch the day of departure.  Special dietary requirements can usually be met with advance notice.  


PhonesThere are no telephones in cottages or dorms, and there is NO cell coverage at the station.  There is a public phone in Lewis Hall from which residents may make free local calls or use a calling card for long distance calls.  Skype, iChat, and other forms of VOIP are popular forms of communication. Phone messages for residents can be left at 540-626-7196, the Station Office.  Additional contact information is found here.  

Researchers and faculty may request telephone service to Lewis Hall labs or offices.  Service is provided at cost.  Contact the Station in advance to make arrangements.

U.S. Mail and Shipping Services: USPS, UPS, FedEx, Airborne Express, and DHL all deliver to MLBS.  Residents may have mail forwarded to the Station, but please use "Temporary" rather than "Permanent" mail forwarding. Please use the following delivery address: 

Recipient's Name
c/o Mountain Lake Biological Station
240 Salt Pond Rd.
Pembroke, VA 24136-3092

InternetOpen wireless internet access is available throughout most of the Station.  Public workstations, file server access, and printer resources are available to all Station users 24/7.


Coin-operated washers and dryers are available. Residents must provide their own laundry detergent.


Dogs are not allowed on MLBS grounds at any time, and may not be left in vehicles. Please do not arrive at MLBS with your dog! 

Visits are by appointment or invitation only.  All visitors must sign it at the main office in 102 Lewis Hall.

MLBS is a unit of the University of Virginia.  Anyone using the Station in any way is subject to the rules, regulations and customs of the University, including alcohol and drug policies, use of computer resources and communications (including digital copyrightobscene material and other information policies), and the academic Honor Code. In order to protect the interests of the community, Station administration reserves the right to dismiss any person behaving in an inappropriate manner or whose actions it is judged pose a danger to him/herself or others. Basic Station rules and procedures are outlined in the MLBS Handbook, and it is the responsibility of all users to read and follow them. 


In spite of the Station's southern location, its 3,800 ft elevation means that summers are pleasant and even cool.  June and July days average in the 70s F.  Nighttime temperatures range from 40-60 degrees F.  June can be wet and cold; July is usually warmer and dryer.  Unexpected and often severe thunderstorms are common.  If you visit in the summer, come prepared for warm sun; torrential downpours; cool, dripping fogs; and cold, crisp nights!  Reliable rain gear, waterproof boots, and layered synthetic clothing is the best strategy.

By mid August, temperatures begin dropping, and it can snow as early as September.  Winters are often harsh.  Snow may fall as late as April or even early May.  


Recreational activities at the Station include campfires, square dancing, seminars and slide shows, movies, volleyball, basketball, a team triathlon, swimming, caving, rock climbing, hiking, and canoeing on the New River.  Other local attractions and resources are found on Giles County's web site.  Blacksburg, a small university town (home of Virginia Tech) is 30 minutes away. 

Off-Site Accommodations

The family-oriented Mountain Lake Lodge is located just two miles from the Station on the shores of Mountain Lake.  Family and friends of MLBS residents often enjoy staying in the Lodge or one of its private cottages.  For reservations, call 540-626-7121.

The town of Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, is a 30 minute drive from the Station.  It offers a wide range of accommodations and services.

Health and Safety

MLBS is a safe place to live and work.  However, it is also a remote field station with limited facilities, access, and communications.  The Station is surrounded on all sides by miles of hard-to-navigate terrain, and many activities at MLBS occur outdoors in unpredictable and demanding weather conditions.  The greatest risk to your health and safety at Mountain Lake is getting lost.  Other hazards common to any backcountry situation apply.  First aid kits are available on site, and staff are prepared to advise you on how to stay safe and found.

The station is 30 minutes away from the nearest hospital, and the 911 response time may be 30 minutes or more. Montgomery Regional Hospital (located in Christiansburg off Rte. 460) is approximately 20 miles from the Station.  Carilion Giles Community Hospital (located in Pearisburg off Rte. 460) is smaller but slightly closer.  Additional information on a variety of local medical services is found in the MLBS Handbook

The staff at MLBS are committed to providing a safe environment for all residents.  Please notify station staff if you have any concerns about your own physical or mental health and safety, or that of others.  Any and all concerns will be received with respect, compassion, and confidentiality.

In an Emergency

In any emergency where life or property is at risk, first dial 911.  Then notify MLBS staff immediately, day or night.  If staff and residents need to be summoned quickly, ring the dining hall bell loudly and continuously.  The MLBS Evacuation Plan and MLBS Disaster Plan outline procedures for emeregencies. 

Notification of Risks and User Liability Waiver

All Station users are required to complete the on line Liability Waiver prior to arrival.  
Certain known and unknown risks are associated with the use of field stations. UVA's Office of Risk Management requires us to post notification of certain risks and liability statements:
General Information on Risks
Public Statement of Field Station User Assumption of Risk and Liability

Notes to Visitors:

  • No pets of any kind are permitted on the Station without the explicit and advance permission of the Director.  Pets may not be left in vehicles.  

  • Mountain Lake Biological Station is a scientific research facility. Visits are by appointment or invitation onlyPlease call 540-626-7196 or email if you wish to visit the Station.  All arrivals must register at the Station Office, 102 Lewis Hall.

Groups, Meetings, and Conferences

If you are interested in bringing a group to the Station or hosting a meeting/conference here, please click here for more information.