Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rockfish Gap Visitor Center "moving on up"?

Current location of tourism office (right) in midst of run-down buildings....

Afton Mountain's crumbling buildings ... an area that could be a crown jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains but is an eyesore for visitors and locals ... seems destined for the wrecking ball. Owner Phil Dulaney apparently has plans to demolish the burned-out structures which will take out the current visitor center location at the same time, according to the Waynesboro News Virginian.

As a result, the visitor center has purchased a modular trailer from a Winchester school to use as the "new" visitor center which will be moved a short distance away near the slightly-higher-altitude old Holiday Inn.

Question: Could a modular trailer be made to be aesthetically pleasing with stone foundation, walkways, flowers? Maybe volunteers would be willing to add their talents to the project?

That area is aching for some upgrades and, in these financially strapped times, maybe a group could be pulled together, not just the volunteers who work inside, but others who would be willing to help spruce up the outside.

You know ... curb appeal ... for the millions of visitors passing through the area every year as they travel the Blue Ridge Parkway which is the most visited national park averaging 20 million travelers annually, as well as the Skyline Drive and I-64.

I would love to see a nice cafe at Afton with views of the Shenandoah and/or Rockfish Valleys ... outdoor seating ... something casual that could be used by hikers, bikers, travelers, and locals. It could be a "go-to" place for friends to meet and watch the sunset over the Alleghany Mountains.

When I lived in NC, we were near Blowing Rock and Boone, places that utilized their mountain views with restaurants, B&Bs, and parks with the Blue Ridge Parkway passing through their communities. They were "go-to" destinations for anyone within an hour's drive.

Would Afton be financially successful with lodging, a cafe, and shops?

Photo by SWAC Girl
Lynn Mitchell


Mark R said...

I would love a little cafe where I could get a coffee, a sandwich and sit on the porch and watch the tourist go by!

Bob K. said...

A Bavarian or Tyrolian Village with little shops and cafes and somewhere in my stack of stuff I have [I am not making this up] a Tyrolian Service Station.

Do you mind if this becomes a feature in The Journey when I have time for some drawing?

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Mark, I totally agree. Afton has always been a favorite spot of mine but the past 10 years it has really gotten run down.

A little cafe with tables on an outdoor terrace as a place to meet friends or just relax and look out over the mountains would be perfect!

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Bob wrote, "Do you mind if this becomes a feature in The Journey when I have time for some drawing?"Bob, are you kidding? I think it would be wonderful! That's the beauty of having an artist for a friend! Would you let me copy them on SWAC Girl (with credit to you)?

I'd love to see your ideas for Afton ... will you draw a nice little cafe with a terrace with tables for me? :)

Your artistic ability would absolutely make Afton the crown jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Bob K. said...

For Years I've been heading to and from some great hikes, imagining this as the gateway to the Valley that it could be.

When I get some ideas on paper I'd be delighted to share them for you to publish.

I really don't see any reason this couldn't be wildly successful. The Southern entrance to Shenandoah National Park, The Parkway, Wintergreen and the high traffic on I64 really should add up.

It is one of those things you really wonder why hasn't been done already.

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Bob, your idea of a gateway to all this beautiful area has to offer is what I envisioned two years ago when I first wrote about the decaying buildings on Afton.

From what I understand, the reason nothing has ever been done is because the man who owns the property will not sell.

So sad ... it's the perfect location for tourists and locals and could be beautiful.

Bob K. said...

Tyrolean it is! [click to read. Here's my attempt at a new look for Rockfish Gap.