Rich in mountain beauty and natural wonder, Virginia's Blue Ridge offers an abundance of open-air adventures for outdoor enthusiasts of all types. From miles of lush trails and unspoiled views to a host of scenic byways and expansive state parks, the Roanoke Valley is boundless in recreation and excitement.
Begin your outdoor exploration with a ride - by car or by bike - along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Touted as America's favorite drive, the scenic 469-mile route winds along ancient ridges and into lush valleys from its start in Waynesboro to its final turn in Cherokee, N.C. The Parkway is easily accessible to and from Downtown Roanoke with multiple entrances at Mill Mountain, Route 220, Route 460 and Route 24.
Within Roanoke's city limits, you'll find more than 60 parks, including the popular Mill Mountain Park which boasts a trail system and a host of outdoor recreation activities all within reach of the Roanoke Star. First illuminated in 1949 as a seasonal holiday decoration, the Roanoke Star has since earned the city the nickname, "Star City of the South," and has become a historic symbol for the Roanoke Valley. Also in the Roanoke Valley you'll find more than 22 miles of greenways to explore with a walk, run, picnic, biking or to simply watch nature in a peaceful setting. The Roanoke River Greenway, Lick Run Greenway, Mill Mountain Greenway, Murray Run Greenway and Tinker Creek Greenway serve as scenic connectors linking Roanoke's natural charm to its alluring neighborhoods and vibrant downtown.
When you're ready to stretch your legs, strap on your boots for a challenging, scenic hike along the picturesque Appalachian Trail. Just north of downtown Roanoke and located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, the Appalachian Trail boasts some of the region's most challenging back-country experiences. Completed in 1937, the Appalachian Trail touches 14 states along its 2,178 mile trail from Georgia to Maine. Be sure to aim your lens at McAfee Knob, which is the most photographed site along the Appalachian Trail. It features an almost 270 degree panorama of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north and the Roanoke Valley to the east, providing an unforgettable view of Virginia's Blue Ridge.
If you're looking to test our welcome waters, Carvins Cove Natural Reserve boasts a major water source within its 12,700 acres, along with plenty of recreational options such as fishing, boat rentals, hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Located near Interstate 81 and less than eight miles from downtown Roanoke, Carvins Cove is the second largest municipal park in the nation and borders 14 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Explore an array of boating, fishing, swimming and water sports along Smith Mountain Lake's 500 miles of shoreline. Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Huddleston offers camping March through the first weekend in December, in addition to fishing, swimming, hiking trails and cabins, which are available year-round.
Cool off with a few dives at Splash Valley Water Park 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, and a children's play area with spray features.
When it's time to wind down, take a leisurely stroll through the city centers of Roanoke, Salem and Vinton to peruse farmers' markets ripe with outdoor vendors offering a variety of goods, from locally grown produce and enticing homemade treats, to hand-crafted jewelry and other artistic treasures. The Historic Roanoke City Market, open year-round, is a local favorite that boasts a storied tradition as the heart and soul of downtown Roanoke.
The Salem Farmers' Market, located in the city's downtown district, boasts such local goods as organic produce, farm fresh eggs and baked goods. The Vinton Farmers' Market, located on Lee Avenue in downtown Vinton and open April through November, features 24 covered stalls with tables for vendors selling fresh produce, homemade baked goods, jellies, greenery, handmade crafts, plants and more. The market area also features a stage which hosts concerts and special events throughout the year.
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.visitroanokeva.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.