Love outdoor adventures? Then you have to visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge! Whether you love hiking, biking, kayaking or just being out in nature, this is for you!
The majestic mountains of Virginia’s Blue Ridge are the perfect backdrop for some of the country’s best outdoor adventures. The highly acclaimed area nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains is consistently voted a top destination for outdoor adventure and is ideal for those of all skill and interest levels.
The Roanoke River was recently recognized as America’s “Best Urban Kayaking Spot” in the 2022 USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards and the area is home to Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 professional women’s cycling team. As the largest city along the Appalachian Trail and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway, Roanoke and the surrounding region offer more than 1,000 miles of world-class hiking, biking and paddling trails with stunning scenery and beautiful backdrops.
On the Water
The Roanoke River’s unique proximity to downtown Roanoke and popular local parks, outfitters and trails makes it an exciting metro mountain adventure in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The 45 miles of blueways range from flatwater to Class II rapids, offering tubing, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and birding.
Located 30 miles from Roanoke in the charming Town of Buchanan along the James River, Twin River Outfitters provides exceptional water adventures for enthusiasts of all ages. Established in 1978, the company specializes in exceptional kayaking, canoeing, rafting and tubing trips. Guided excursions and overnight paddle trips at a private campground are also available.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge’s beach in the mountains, Smith Mountain Lake (SML), is the second largest body of water in the state and a favorite among locals and visitors. With 500 miles of shoreline, it is a boater’s paradise and is ideal for largemouth bass fishing. Smith Mountain Lake’s State Park has a sandy beach, hiking trails, boat rentals, a campground and cabin rentals. Bridgewater Marina is SML’s largest boat rental operation, offering a variety of watercraft and water toy options.
Named one of the Top 10 most bike-friendly areas in the country and known as America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital, Virginia’s Blue Ridge offers many options for bikers of all skill levels. With 300+ miles of MTB trails, the area has received the Silver-Level Ride Center Designation by International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA). There are also trails for beginners and an urban trail system with stunning views of Downtown Roanoke and the Roanoke Star.
The more than 35 miles of paved space for biking on the Roanoke Valley Greenways (urban trails built on flat terrain that connect many public parks, playgrounds and neighborhoods) are easy for children and adults. For leisurely biking, there are rentals and self-guided bicycle tours and routes with themes ranging from public art, ice cream, coffee, LOVEwork signs and more.
One of the area’s most popular biking events, Harvest Tour, will be held on Sunday, August 14th. The 40-mile leisurely bike ride begins at a vineyard, winds through the scenic Botetourt County and stops at four to six farms with tours at each. The ride concludes with a delicious farm-to-table meal featuring local and regional products.
Referred to by many local mountain bikers as “Disneyland” for bikes, Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is the second largest municipal park in America. With over 60 miles of multi-use trails, the combination of cross country singletrack, freeride downhill trails, and fire roads present an incredible network of routes and rides that can be enjoyed by beginner and advanced riders alike.
Roanoke is the largest city on the Appalachian Trail and offers a variety of hiking options for all levels. The Triple Crown of Virginia, made up of the three iconic peaks – Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs – showcases three of the most beautiful summits and is beloved by locals and visitors.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge also has waterfall hikes with beautiful backdrops. One of the most popular is Roaring Run Falls, located in Eagle Rock, and has a swimming hole and trout fishing area. This 1.5-mile loop trail is great for families with younger children.
There are a wide variety of trails for all hikers within Virginia State Parks that range from short and easy to long and strenuous. Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, Natural Bridge State Park in Natural Bridge is a beautiful 215-foot-tall limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. It is surrounded by quiet forests, rolling meadows, six miles of hiking trails, and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and James River Valley.
Outdoor enthusiasts will want to mark their calendars for one of Roanoke’s most popular outdoor events, Anthem Go Outside Festival, aka “GO Fest,” which showcases everything outdoors — active outdoor recreation, camping, live music, gear, races, and demonstrations in a beautiful outdoor setting. During the three-day festival, attendees can enjoy trying out equipment and gear, sampling new items, enjoying live music, great food and local craft beers. October 14 – 16, 2022
Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a Leave No Trace Community Partner and encourages visitors to be recreate responsibly by practicing the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace to minimize impacts on the environment so that it can continue to be enjoyed for many generations.
About Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Virginia’s Blue Ridge (VBR) is nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, providing a metro mountain mix of exciting outdoor adventure with refined culture. Visit VBR is the official destination marketing organization for Virginia’s Blue Ridge which includes the Cities of Roanoke and Salem and the Counties of Botetourt, Franklin and Roanoke. The region is easily accessible via the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA), Interstate-81, and Amtrak’s northeast regional route. For more information, go to VisitBR.com.