ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County's Explore Park, which spans 1,100 acres, may finally be living up to expectations. The county Parks and Recreation Department is ready to recommend contracts for horseback riding, camping and other attractions.
"As part of the adventure plan, one of our goals from the very beginning was to have private investment into the park to offer different recreational amenities," said Doug Blount, director of Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
If approved by the board of supervisors, the projects, which also include cabins and the most exciting addition, a treetop rope and zipline course, will soon be moving forward.
"We really see the aerial adventure course as a signature attraction for Explore Park, and will draw not only people from Virginia's Blue Ridge to come and visit, but really pull people from outside," said Blount.
Parks and Recreation staff say growing Explore Park can be a game changer for the county. Last year, the park attracted more than 70,000 visitors, up 33 percent from the previous year.
"Explore Park has always been a diamond in the rough. Having 1,100 acres in our own backyard, it really created an opportunity to develop a really special park there," said Blount.
Explore Park's development plans are still in the early stages, but staff are hoping to have all the projects completed by spring of 2019.
A representative with Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge spoke in support of the new developments at the board of supervisors meeting, saying:
"I urge you to move forward with the needed funding to develop this exciting new destination. Visit VBR sees this as one of the most important initiatives in this region to significantly increase the number of year-round visitors and to take us to the next level as a destination."
The board will vote on the contracts sometime in the next 60 to 90 days.