Find all the information and resources you need to plan a weekend getaway to Virginia's Blue Ridge with your pet.
Spring is the time to get outside and there are more than a few options for outdoor adventure in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Set off on an expedition to find beautiful wildflowers in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Among the earliest blooms are bloodroot with their easily noticed white blooms. Find these low growers in damp, shaded areas of the woods. Bloodroot, Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and other wildflowers are common along the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Poor Mountain Natural Area Preserve is 1,251 acres of rugged, mostly infertile terrain. It is, however, home to the world’s largest known population of piratebush (Buckleya distichophylla). Piratebush is a shrub and is easily identified it by its pale green foliage in spring, which turn bright yellow in fall. If you wish to see it, take the Piratebush Loop Trail (.8 mile) and please abide by the current Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation protocols: no more than 10 cars in the parking area; parking only in designated spaces; stay on the marked trails. [Poor Mountain Trail Map]
For a faster, more guaranteed peek at natural blooms, head to Happy Hollow Gardens (pictured above) or the Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden, both in Roanoke. Happy Hollow offers two miles of dirt trails, and April is the best month for enjoying prolific spring blooms.
Mill Mountain Garden Club maintains the 2.5-acre Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden, and it is a lovely welcome for visitors to the top of the mountain. Meander through the garden along the Discovery Trail connecting Mill Mountain Park to Mill Mountain Zoo, and keep an eye out for the new cascading tiered pond, an upgrade from the recent Wildflower Garden restoration campaign. Enjoy newly cleared views, too, as overgrown invasive species have recently been removed as part of the campaign as well.
Spring showers equal roaring waterfalls in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and we have plenty of hikes leading to them. Start with some of our most popular like Cascade Falls in Pembroke or Roaring Run Falls (pictured above) in Eagle Rock, then purse more difficult hikes like Apple Orchard Falls and Bottom Creek Gorge.
Plan a full weekend around waterfalls if you wish. We have a suggested itinerary for inspiration - Waterfall Weekend Itinerary for Virginia's Blue Ridge >
The 1,100-acre Explore Park has become an outdoor mecca in Virginia’s Blue Ridge with the recent addition of Treetop Quest, a zipline and treetop adventure that opens for the season April 3. Add that to 18 holes of disc golf, camping, cabins, 14 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, access to the Roanoke River, outdoor programming for all ages, and even food & drink at Twin Creeks Brewpub, and it’s easy to see why it’s the hub for all of your outdoor spokes.
Pull in your camper or book a cabin or yurt from which to launch your explorations. The Roanoke River can be enjoyed as a simple scenic spot or get on the water and enjoy a fun float through the Roanoke River Gorge. There are also places to fish along the river and a boat launch if you brought your own vessel.
Get on the water with Twin River Outfitters in Buchanan to enjoy the Upper James River Water Trail. A 59-mile stretch of the James River is designated as a Virginia Scenic River, making it one of the best destinations for paddling in the entire Commonwealth.
Flat waters and rapids are present on the James and the professionals at Twin River know just where to drop you in to achieve the day you’re looking for. Tubing and paddling vessels are available for rent.
As the canopy fills in, the trails become shaded and the forest floor comes alive with new growth. When that happens, there’s nowhere better to be than Virginia’s Blue Ridge – America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.
In the Jefferson National Forest you can take your pick from acclaimed trails like Dragon’s Back, Dody Ridge, and the North Mountain/Longdale Loop.
Take a walk, or run, or ride your bike. Whatever way you want to enjoy a nice paved trail is welcome along the Roanoke Valley Greenways. With more than 35 miles of trails you won’t soon run out of scenery or room to roam. If you’d like to rent a bike, head to Roanoke Mountain Adventures on Wasena Avenue and launch from there.
Depart from the trails and take a self-guided bicycle tour of the region. RIDE Solutions is a local organization that focuses on transportation options and they've done an amazing job putting together these unique routes.
Choose an interest and set off. Will it be art, the historic flood of ’85 that devastated parts of Roanoke, a haunted tour, or perhaps an evening jaunt for neon lights? There are 19 routes in Roanoke alone, with more to be added.
Seeing the cherry blossoms in the bloom at the National D-Day Memorial is one of the most beautiful ways to experience spring in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The Memorial stands as a tribute to the soldiers who gave their lives as part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II and the location of the Memorial has special significance.
The Town of Bedford suffered the highest loss of life per capita of any community in the country.
From Virginia State Parks to the camping options mentioned above at Explore Park (pictured above), you have multiple options for parking the RV and adventuring about. Or not. You can simply park the RV and just sit.
Enjoy the sights and sounds around you and relax, because that’s pretty sweet, too. See our list of campgrounds to get started.
Disc golf continues to grow in popularity as more and more courses pop up across Virginia’s Blue Ridge. There are currently nine courses between Troutville to Ferrum, which means your high-flying, fast-flinging fun goes on and on. Take in the beautiful views and challenging holes at the Greenfield Disc Golf Course (pictured above) in Botetourt County.
Listen to the songbirds serenade the Blue Ridge Mountains or seek out the birds of prey that swoop to the forest floor to source a meal. Among our favorite sounds are the rapid pounding of a Red-headed Woodpecker, which makes it easy to find and observe, and the sweet evening song of the Eastern Whip-poor-will, which isn’t as easily seen.
When seeking a raptor like the Red-tailed hawk, stealth, distant observation will be key. In this instance, mimic the hunt of the hawk: calm and quiet.
There are a couple great resources we recommend checking out for more information about specific locations that are best for birding:
Yes! Yes, you CAN take me out to the ballgame in Virginia's Blue Ridge!
The Salem Red Sox are an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and they play their games at the Salem Memorial Ballpark, one of the most beautiful stadiums in minor league baseball, offering gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains, as well as a great, family-friendly atmosphere!
Celebrate the beauty and renewal that spring brings when you plan your outdoor adventure in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and don’t forget to share your images with the hashtag #Trailsetter.
We can’t wait to see all the ways you enjoy our area.
Photo Credits: Wildflowers - Jennifer Griffin, Waterfall Hikes - Virginia Tourism Corporation, Explore Park - Visit VBR, Upper James River Water Trail - Aaron Black-Schmidt, Mountain Biking - Sam Dean, Roanoke Valley Greenways - Kemper Mills Fant, RIDE Solutions Bicycle Tours - Sam Dean, National D-Day Memorial - Jennifer Griffin, Camping - Roanoke County Parks, Recreation & Tourism, Disc Golf - Botetourt County, Bird Watching - Terry Aldhizer, Salem Red Sox - Jennifer Griffin