The sizzling days of summer have arrived in Virginia's Blue Ridge, and there's endless excitement and adventure to explore along the rivers, streams and lakes meandering through the region's valleys and mountain passes. Soak up plenty of family fun or plan a day of solitude amid breathtaking views and the sights and sounds of native wildlife.
Cool off with a few dives or a winding ride down the water slides at Splash Valley Water Park at the Green Ridge Recreation Center in Roanoke County. The family-friendly attraction is open Memorial Day through Labor Day and offers two 34-foot high water slides, a current river where you can relax and let the flow of the current take you away, and a children's play area full of fountains, pouring buckets, water cannons, slides, and places to climb or crawl.
Explore an array of boating, fishing, swimming and water sports along Smith Mountain Lake's 500 miles of scenic shoreline. From Memorial Day through Labor Day the lake offers various boat rentals, including canoes, kayaks, hydrobikes, paddleboats, pontoon boats, ski boats and jet skis. Find the perfect boat to rent at Bridgewater Marina, which is also home to the Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Center. Cast your rods from the boat or the shore to reel in catfish or a variety of bass. Located along the north shore, Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Huddleston features a 500-foot beach for plenty of swimming and sunbathing. Visitors can also enjoy a cruise on Smith Mountain Lake aboard the Virginia Dare, a 19th century replica sidewinder ship.
Convenient to Interstate 81 and less than eight miles from downtown Roanoke, Carvins Cove Natural Reserve boasts a major water source within its 12,700 acres, along with plenty of fishing, boat rentals, hiking, biking, equestrian trails and other recreational options. Carvins Cove is coveted as the second largest municipal park in the nation and borders 14 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
If you're up for a challenge, plan an adventure to remember on the Upper James River in Botetourt County, just north of Roanoke. From there, the river winds along the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains en route to the Chesapeake Bay and provides some of the state's finest fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. The Upper James River Water Trail offers nature enthusiasts 45 miles of unspoiled views, which includes 12 pristine miles designated as a Virginia Scenic River.
Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing operates a 500-acre property nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, completely surrounded by the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Also circling the property is Craig Creek, which allows guests to enjoy customized kayaking, tubing, and canoeing trips. Visitors can even experience a zipline. Choose from affordable rental rates for camping or staying in a cabin or lodge. Wilderness Adventure offers guided trips for more novice adventurers along Craig Creek, the James River or the New River.
With sunny skies above, settle in for a relaxing float along the cool, clear Upper Pigg River Blueway in Franklin County, about 25 minutes south of Roanoke. The Class I water is great for fishing or a leisurely family canoe trip. Starting at the 500-acre Waid Recreation Area, the 8-mile mile float leads through the rolling countryside pass old homesteads, numerous small riffles and great fishing holes.
Also in Franklin County, the Upper Blackwater River Blueway is 35 miles long with its start in the headwaters of Cahas Mountain and continuing until it opens into Smith Mountain Lake. A fun ride for paddlers, the blueway features an area with a series of low Class II water that's ideal for first-timers.
For those looking to reel in a big catch, there are a number of popular fishing spots in Virginia's Blue Ridge. The Roanoke River is stocked regularly for trout fishing and many of the public parks, such as Green Hill Park, provide access to the river. The Roanoke Valley features many fishing opportunities that are part of the state's Fish Virginia First campaign, which promotes the outstanding fishing in Virginia.
Come discover how refined a mountain adventure can be in Virginia's Blue Ridge. For more information, visit our website or mobile website at www.visitvablueridge.com, call (800) 635-5535 or stop by the Roanoke Valley Visitor Information Center located in Downtown Roanoke (101 Shenandoah Ave., NE Roanoke VA 24016, open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily.