By Summer Williamson and Adaline Bisese
Nestled between the cities of Roanoke and Lexington lies the quaint community of Botetourt County. On the surface it may seem as though this county has nothing entertaining to offer, but this is simply not true. It takes a local to know where to find pearls among the curvy backwood roads and sprawling forests. Here, we will give you a brief tour of this beautiful Blue Ridge county that includes several calendar events, recreational activities, and places to eat.
Botetourt hosts quite a few annual events each season. The town of Buchanan serves as Botetourt’s hub for festivals. Every year the Buchanan Garden Festival kicks off the season of spring, followed by the Carnival during the 4th of July, and Mountain Magic in the Fall. In the winter, both Buchanan and Fincastle host a Christmas parade which features the locals and commemorates their services. Each season hosts its own variety of activities.
Along with these events is the Botetourt Open Studios which are held every year in October. They allow people to view local artists’ studios and purchase artwork. Hundreds of people set aside their Saturday and Sunday for this tour around Botetourt. Artists include Dreama Kattenbraker, Vera Dickerson, Mark Woodie, Linda Atkinson, Edward Bordett, and many others including guest artists Lois Bisese, Claudia de Franko, Mary Anne Meador, and more. In addition to these artists, Botetourt Open Studios showcases the talent of high school art students from both Lord Botetourt High School and James River High School. Student art can be purchased on the tour, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to the League for Animal Protection Services, a local no-kill shelter. For more information on future tours, visit the Open Studios website here.
Aside from festivals, the town of Buchanan offers a bountiful array of antique shops, an Amish furniture shop, and an art gallery all delivered with a historic appeal. If you’re looking for a meal served with a retro vibe to go with all your antique shopping, then we suggest the Fountain and Grill Restaurant which specializes in sandwiches. The town is positioned directly beside the James River and has a public boat ramp which is immediately next to Twin River Outfitters, a local business that provides kayak and raft rentals and a shuttle service. If you opt to float along the James. there are multiple trips worth venturing. I am biased, but I suggest starting in Buchanan, paddling under the Swinging Bridge, past some baby rapids, and ending at Arcadia. If you’re still hankering for something to do, then swing by the Buchanan Theatre for a cost-friendly movie in a traditional theater.
There are many recreational things to do just a few miles outside of Buchanan. A couple minutes along the Blue Ridge Parkway (connected by Route 43 at the turn right near the Burger King and Stop In) is the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant, located between three mountains. Here there are a variety of activities within walking distance. The Peaks of Otter Lodge is right next to Sharp Top Mountain, Flat Top Mountain, and Harking Hill. For those looking for a more challenging hike, Sharp Top Mountain is a 1.5 mile, nearly vertical climb up the scenic mountainside to the peak. The Peaks of Otter Lodge and surrounding areas are visible for miles at the top of this trail. The second mountain making up the Peaks of Otter is Flat Top Mountain. This trail is longer than Sharp Top Mountain at 4.8 miles, but it is an easier and less strenuous hike. The final trail included in the Peaks of Otter is Harking Hill. Unlike the other trails, Harking Hill is a 3.1 mile leisurely walk. It is great for those working towards Sharp Top Mountain and Flat Top Mountain, or those looking for a quiet afternoon walk. If you’re not in the area for a hike, the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant is open to the public.
Further along the parkway is the National Jefferson & Washington Forest surrounding the area of Arcadia. While some consider this to be the middle of nowhere, this peaceful region offers many areas for fishing, hunting, hiking, and swimming. The Appalachian Trail is accessible from Jennings Creek Road which follows a serene creek which has some hidden picturesque waterfalls and swimming holes. At the end of North Creek Road are the trails Apple Orchard Falls and Cornelius Creek Loop. If you are looking for somewhere to eat after a day of being outside, the Foot of the Mountain Restaurant has an excellent menu.
For people looking to stay longer, there are the friendly and nearby options of the Watstull Inn, Camp Bethel, Middle Creek Campground and North Creek Campground. Camp Bethel is located off of Lithia Road, also known as the popular Bicycle Route 76. Summer camps are offered part of the year as well as yoga retreats and periodic dances. The camp is great for people of all ages, and it even has hiking trails around the campground. Another campground is the friendly and family owned Middlecreek Campground which is located in the Jefferson National Forest. It offers a pool, home cooked food, as well as two ponds for fishing and swimming, all right by the Appalachian Trail. There are open spots for your camper, caravan, or motorhome for three seasons. Due to its proximity to the national forest, many hiking trails are within walking distance from the camp including the Peaks of Otter, which is only a few miles away.
Botetourt also has several equestrian farms within its borders. Amethyst Acres Equine Center, Freedom Farms, and Stars and Stripes Farm are included. Freedom Farms is located on Lithia Road, in the same area as Camp Bethel. It offers equine therapy to veterans working with PTSD, injury, and other service related disabilities. Along with private therapy sessions, they also have periodic events open to all veterans and their families.
Down Route 11 heading towards Troutville, Fincastle, and Daleville is the Limestone community pool (a popular attraction during the summer), North Star Restaurant, Greenwood Restaurant, Good Times Cafe, and the Gathering Place Restaurant. Across the county is the quickly growing town of Daleville and Fincastle. The Daleville Town Center has recently gained popularity as an expanding hub for businesses and housing. Daleville has recently welcomed a YMCA to its list of businesses. The YMCA includes a pool, workout equipment, indoor track, and other activities. Monday, January 21st, 2019, Lord Botetourt will be hosting the first swim meet at the new facility with James River High School as one of their rivals. Apart from the new YMCA, there are the restaurants Tizzone Wood-Fired Kitchen and Wine Bar, Town Center Tap House, Rodeo Chico, and Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee. On Saturdays, a farmer’s market sells locally grown items from farmers in the area as well as locally made goods. The newly available amenities in the town of Daleville make it a great place to hang out during your free time.
Overall, Botetourt has many activities available to everyone: take a long float down the James River, dine in the Daleville Town Center, hike in lush forests at the Peaks of Otter, stay at a friendly campground, buy fresh produce from local farmers, and pick up some local artisan works along the way. Botetourt offers it all.