Explore Park looking to add camping, cabins starting this spring

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va.- – The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors heard proposals from two local groups to provide camping facilities and services to the Explore Park.

It's all part of a plan to provide more recreational opportunities as a way to boost tourism.

The director of  Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Doug Blount, said the county is moving forward with plans to add camping and cabins to the park. 

"It's been a goal of ours in Roanoke County for Explore Parks to get different types of overnight accommodations. This was one of the areas that we were really lacking in terms of recreational amenities," said Blount. 

An ordinance proposing a lease agreement with Blue Mountain Adventures will offer a variety of 50 different camping spots. Nightly rates will range from $25 to $150, depending on the season and services offered with an overnight stay. Roanoke County will receive a 5 percent gross revenue for the first two years. 
"We will have a primitive hike-in camping. You have group camping in the area where you're camping on platforms. Then, there, we'll also be providing elevated decks, such as a treehouse concept. We will have a different campus structures called glamping-in other words, where they provide all the services and you just show up," said Blount. 

The county is hoping to have camping sites set up by early summer. And another lease agreement with Don's Cab-Inns will help build a unique set of 18 cabins and yurts starting in the spring. Nightly rates would range from $50 to $150, depending upon season. 

"I think yurts are an innovative type of indoor camping experience that we haven't seen in this part of our area before. Yurts are a European type of canvas camping structure," said Blount. 

Although the Board of Supervisors has another vote before approving the final plans on Jan. 23, the project is expected to be complete by 2020.  

Claytor Lake State Park, Fairy Stone State Park and Smith Mountain Lake State Park all in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains also offer cabin rentals.