In this era of high prices and inflation, Outdoors Bound is offering suggestions and tips to help you make your outdoor adventure vacation plans. It’s something we call State Park Solutions. It’s an ongoing series. Virginia state parks offer various activity and lodging options at a relatively affordable price. You can find a link to the I Love Virginia State Parks page here to research travel and booking options.
MONETA, Va. (WFXR) — With a name like Smith Mountain Lake (SML) State Park, you would think that the lake is the main draw, and you would be right. But, there is so much more available for people who enjoy the outdoors at this park on the lake’s western shore in Bedford County.
“It is the second largest lake in Virginia,” said SML State Park Manager Brian Heft. “We have a contract with one of the marinas on the lake, and they have jet ski rentals, pontoon boats, and runabouts, which you can ski from. They also rent kayaks and paddle boards.”
In addition to a boat concession, there is also a 500-foot-long beach, one of only two public beaches on the lake. The park also offers a fishing pier and miles of shore access to allow anglers to take advantage of the world-class fishery SML provides.
“Black bass is most popular, largemouth, smallmouth, but we have striped bass, as well,” Heft said. “It’s a lake known for trophy-sized fish.”
SML also offers quality fishing for panfish and catfish.
Hiking is also popular at the park. There are 15 miles of trails at the park. Visitors can take part in the Trail Quest program there, as well. The program recognizes visitors who hike various state parks around Virginia.
“In our survey, when we ask people what they do while here, number one is always hiking,” said Heft.
“The best part about Trail Quest is it really is fully accessible,” added Christen Miller of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. “We have had some really incredible experiences around Trail Quest, for years people have been coming out and using it as a reason to visit our parks. It gives them a little bit of an incentive, they get pins.”
Wildlife is something you will see out on those trails. There are deer, bears, raccoons, foxes, and multiple unique bird species in the park, including a colony of purple Martins.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park is within easy driving distance of most major population centers in southwest and central Virginia. The park offers a variety of lodging and camping options, including primitive campsites, campsites with electrical and water hookups, and cabins. The key to securing lodging is to book as early as possible because it fills up quickly.
Because it is so accessible, it is easy for visitors to enjoy a variety of experiences; something for everybody, and a chance to destress in nature. Park administrators say they see how a park visit can help people.
“It’s changed their life,” said Miller. “People have come to our parks feeling depressed, they’ve had a really big life event that has been really cataclysmic, catastrophic, and coming to parks, coming to green spaces, coming into the woods, and sitting by the waters has been incredibly healing for them.”