Virginia’s Mountains Region —Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine recently announced the winners of the ninth annual Top Adventure Towns contest. In 2019, the field was expanded to 80 adventure hubs from across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, as readers narrowed down their choices in four winning categories: favorite tiny town (population less than 3,000), small town (population 3,001-16,000), mid-sized town (population 16,001-75,000), and large town (population 75,001+).
With more than 50,000 votes cast in an online contest supported by Sweetwater Brewing Company, this year’s Top Adventure Towns included: Hot Springs, Va. (tiny town), Clifton Forge, Va. (small town), Woodstock, Ga. (mid-sized town), and Roanoke, Va. (large town). The multiple runners-up in each category in 2019 were Damascus and St. Paul, Va. (tiny town), Thurmont, Md., and Abingdon, Va. (small town), Bristol, Tenn./Va., and Boone, N.C. (mid-sized town), and Knoxville, Tenn., and Macon, Ga. (large town).
Three of the four winning communities are located in the Virginia Mountains Region, which was established by the Virginia Tourism Corporation in 2016 to help promote travel and tourism to an eight-county region between the Shenandoah Valley and Southwest Virginia regions. The region includes charming cities and towns, history, culture and beauty, but outdoor adventure is one of its most significant tourism draws.
Hot Springs, Va., took home the crown as the first top tiny town. More than half of Bath County is preserved as public lands, with plenty of places for you to experience the great outdoors nearby. Hike or bike 40+ miles of trails at one of Virginia’s original state parks, Douthat State Park. Fish the Jackson River, Cowpasture River, Douthat Lake, and their many tributaries for trout, bass, and more. Discover the town’s namesake—the natural springs that bring travelers to the area from all over the world.
Clifton Forge, Va., returns as winner of the small town category for the second year in a row. Float and paddle the Jackson or Cowpasture Rivers or walk or bike the Jackson River Scenic Trail. Take the whole family to Lake Moomaw for a day of swimming, paddling, hiking, and biking in the national forest or pick-up one of the many Alleghany Highlands Trails that connect to the Town of Clifton Forge. Visit Humpback Bridge, the oldest bridge of its kind in the United States, and Falling Spring Falls, an 80-foot waterfall off of Route 220. To finish off the day, make sure to stop by Jack Mason’s Tavern, a lively restaurant and community gathering place.
Roanoke, Va., surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, offers something for every type of adventurer. Visitors can hike for miles on the Appalachian Trail, paddle the Roanoke River or Zip line at Explore Park. View the entire city and region from the Roanoke Star a top Mill Mountain. As an IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) Silver-Level Ride Center, mountain bikers will find a host of trails to ride at places like Carvins Cove and Mill Mountain. For road cyclists you have many miles to cover on the Roanoke River Greenway.
Rita McClenny, President and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation was quoted as saying, “The Virginia Mountains Region boasts some of the most spectacularly beautiful and charming destinations in the world, from lovely small towns to vibrant cities. This region is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting unparalleled views and a multitude of outdoor adventure options. Further, each destination offers its own unique sense of place, from local culture, historic sites, and authentic cuisine. We are delighted and proud that these incredibly special destinations have been recognized by the passionate readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors, and invite travelers from across the country to come discover for themselves why Virginia is for Mountain and Outdoor Lovers.”
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