Most people don’t think of Virginia as an ecotourism state because of the dense spread of commercial and residential developments; however, the state and federal governments have preserved thousands of acres of land here. To help you plan a nature-infused trip, here a list of the best ecotourist destinations in Richmond. Which is your favorite?
1. James River Park System
Located directly in the heart of Richmond, James River Park is a spectacular ecotourism destination with 550 acres of shoreline. Adventure-seekers can partake in whitewater rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, trail running, picnicking, fishing, hiking and much more.
2. Virginia National Wildlife Refuge
Situated on the Eastern shore of the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge are Sunset Beach and 1,800 acres of protected land. It is a beautiful place to experience the sunset — hence the name. Stay at the Sunset Beach Inn for easiest access and eat at Sunset Grille. There are also lots of activities nearby, such as kayaking, golfing and biking.
Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo courtesy of Bob Mical.
3. Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and protected in Smith Mountain Lake State Park, a spectacular lake vista awaits. There are 500 miles of pristine shoreline and 22,000 acres of crystal clear water. Common ecotourism activities include fishing, swimming, boating and picnicking. There is also a visitor center and an amphitheater on the north shore of the lake. If you want to explore this dramatic peninsula, stay at Bernard’s Landing — a private resort that gives you access to this beautiful location.
4. Shenandoah National Park
Featuring cascading waterfalls, wooded hollows and spectacular vistas, Shenandoah National Park is a popular ecotourism retreat for people living in Virginia and Washington D.C. It offers 200,000 acres of protected lands that are home to deer, bears and all sorts of forest animals and birds. If you plan on hiking or biking in this beautifully preserved land, Brookside Cabins are conveniently located near the entrance of Shenandoah National Park. There are also many other hotel options to choose from if you plan on staying a few nights. Freshwater fishing is also a popular activity in the area.
5. Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains feature freshwater fishing, fly fishing, bird watching, canoeing, hiking, skiing and all sorts of other outdoor activities. It is the perfect place to escape and enjoy nature. Situated in this magical location is the Montfair Resort Farm — A stunning retreat surround by 129 acres of woodlands, meadows and fishing ponds. Attractions nearby include Shenandoah National Park and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
These are just a few of the ecotourism destinations near Richmond, Virginia. Of course, in the city itself there are several parks if you just want to get away for a picnic or a quiet stroll with your family.
What is your favorite ecotourism location in Richmond? Leave a comment below.
top photo Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.