Roanoke Outside Guide to Parks and Recreation Month

Three people stand up paddleboarding at sunset on at Carvins Cove.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding at Carvins Cove

July is Parks and Recreation Month, and you know we’re gonna celebrate! We hang our hats on the incredible outdoor assets here in the Roanoke Region, and the eight local parks and recreation departments in our footprint do an incredible job of building, maintaining, and programming those public spaces. Their efforts have led to things like Top Adventure Town awards, a Silver-Level Ride Center designation, and one of the top 24 Mountain Towns in the U.S. We should be celebrating them all year long, so a month of love is the least we can do. Here are five ways to celebrate Parks and Recreation Month this July.

Try Some Trail Work or Plawking

Roanoke Plawkers! (Photo courtesy of Roanoke Plawkers Facebook)

The best way to show your appreciation for our parks is by volunteering to keep them in tip-top shape! Blue Ridge Off-Road Cyclists (BROC) and Pathfinders for Greenways all offer weekly volunteer opportunities. PLAY Roanoke also offers a variety of trail work days as well as opportunities for greenway clean-ups. Volunteering is rewarding all on its own, but we all know it’s better with friends! If you have a group that wants to volunteer, reach out to the trails and greenways coordinator at PLAY Roanoke to see what group options they offer.

You can also plawk in your local park! Plawking is a form of exercise where you walk or jog while cleaning up trash. There is a local plawking group you can get plugged into, or you can just take some one-on-one time with yourself as you get your steps in while making our public spaces cleaner!

Last, this isn’t in July, but it’s worth mentioning: the Tinker Creek Clean-Up is coming back on August 10! Sign up now to help keep our waterways clean. The trash left in our parks and walkways ends up in our streams if we don’t catch it in time. Every year, awesome humans come along and help pick up a ton of trash from our waterways. And if you’re reading this, chances are you’re pretty awesome, too 😉

Take a Parks and Recreation Program

zipline roanoke explore park

Youngster tackling Tree Top Quest at Explore Park

Paddling, ziplining, attending concerts, hiking, learning—the vast array of programs our local parks and recreation departments offer is staggering. We are pretty darn lucky that we have creative, passionate folks around here who are dedicated to getting people outside. This month, we encourage you to attend one of these programs! You can learn to do yoga on a paddleboard, watch a concert by canoe, learn about reptiles, or watch a jazz performance in the park! Sign up for one (or a few) of these programs, and share about it on social media—they’ll appreciate the love (and we’ll love seeing you outside)!

Visit As Many Parks as You Can

Man in a red short throwing a disc at the Mayflower Disc Golf Course

A disc golfer at Mayflower Disc Golf Course in Roanoke County

Do you know how many local and state parks we have in our region? The official count is a crap-ton. We suggest taking time each weekend to plan a park outing. You can visit your neighborhood park for a playground sesh or a picnic. Maybe try one of the disc golf courses we have in the region. Hit one of your favorite trails (or a new one) for a hike. In fact, this is a great chance to check out the Not McAfee Knob Challenge.  Greenways count as linear parks, so you can grab your bike (or rent one)  and explore the incredible network we have here. And we’re counting the waterways as well, so a little fishin’ or a creek-sittin’ sesh is a park visit in our book.

Of course, you can also hit up one of the state parks we have in our region as well!

Waterfall Hikes

roanoke waterfall

Roaring Run Falls in Roanoke County

Did you know there’s a waterfall called Blue Suck? Yeah, it’s true. What about the natural waterslide in Roanoke County?  There are so many waterfall hikes nearby, and July is the perfect month to hit them up. You can go on an incredible hike surrounded by beautiful vegetation, and then cool off in the creeks (or even the falls) before making the trek back to the trailhead. Check out this list of 13 waterfall hikes we have in our “backyard.”

Tube Your Local River or Creek

floatilla photo roanoke river va

Floatilla to Starr Hilla on the Roanoke River

Of course, we have to plug the annual Floatilla to Starr Hilla here! Every year, we coordinate a regional river float starting around Roanoke Mountain Adventures and ending at Starr Hill, where $1 from every beer sold goes back to Roanoke Outside (and in turn, back to the parks, rivers, trails, etc. we’re celebrating this month). Please join us!

You can also hit these “tubular” spots 😉 on your own time if you’re up for a relaxing float! From the Pigg, Jackson, James, and New, we double-dog dare you to hit each of these spots before summer is up.

Primitive Camping or Glamping

blue camping tent next to a body of water at sunrise.

Primitive camping set-up

Are you into roughing it with a lean-to and foraging for your food? Or are you into a Tom-Haverford-type set-up with cable TV and DJ Roomba?  Chances are you’re somewhere in the middle, but even if you’re not, you’ve got options along the whole spectrum! Here’s a comprehensive list of the camping you can do in the immediate region and a bit beyond. So pack your TP or your wireless router (depending on your style), and enjoy a night under the stars.

So How are You Celebrating?

Falling Springs Falls in Covington, Virginia

Falling Springs Falls in Covington, VA

We’ve just scratched the surface of parks-and-rec possibilities here, and it’s already enough to fill the entire month of July (that’s how awesome our parks systems are)! From a hike on the Appalachian Trail to a zipline course at Explore Park, you can celebrate from A to Z in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. We hope you take a moment to recognize the folks who make all this possible and be sure to share your adventures with us by tagging @Roanoke_Outside. Looking for more ways to enjoy the outdoors in our region? Sign up for our biweekly newsletter that’s always full of outdoor news, potential adventures, and some good, clean(ish) fun.