Virginia’s Blue Ridge region can help energetic people who want to get their feet wet when it comes to a dryland athletic activity.
Taylor Spellman, spokeswoman for the Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge tourist board, says her area was designated as a Silver-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, the first destination on the east coast of the United States to receive that designation, leading local tourism officials to promote their area as America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.
The Ride Center designation is awarded after a region’s trails, accessibility and connectivity of trails, bike-friendly amenities and local biking infrastructure and culture are evaluated.
The Blue Ridge region is one of a comparatively smallish number of areas to receive the ranking.
“We’re truly a mountain biking destination to add to your bucket list,” Spellman said during a Friday Virginia Tourism Corporation webinar.
Spellman said there are “high-quality rides” suited for all skill levels and mountain biking outfitters will help those new to the sport “put your toes in the water as a beginner.”
Spellman also praised area canoeing and hiking opportunities, with the latter including part of the Appalachian Trail. There are collectively over 600 miles available for practitioners of the three forms of recreation, she continued.
“It’s really easy to get into the middle of nature” when staying in the region’s city of Roanoke, she stated
She added that further outdoor exploration is available by travelling the Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds through Virginia into North Carolina and “is known as America’s favorite drive.”
“Very unique and stunning” views await those who travel the parkway, said Spellman, adding it may provide sightings of the likes of deer, black bears and coyotes.
“Really spectacular glamping and camping,” is available, Spellman continued.
Meanwhile, Blue Ridge visitors seeking a little luxury during their stay can opt for the upscale Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, which dates back to 1882.
Among hotel claims to fame is its peanut soup, which chef Stephen DeMarco said is made with a “heirloom recipe” that has earned appreciation from visitors from afar.
The hotel is close to bars, breweries, museums, and other attractions and Amtrak train service can deliver people to a site very close to the hotel.
Spellman also said her region sees different seasons, with March-November tending to be peak tourist season.
Craft Beer and biking credit: Visit VBR
Appalachian Trail credit: “Brent McGuirt Photography – Visit VBR”
Roanoke star sunrise credit: “Sam Dean Photography – Visit VBR”