RICHMOND – Visitors to Virginia State Parks have a new way to earn rewards.
According to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), thirty-one of its parks are now offering Wandering Waters Paddle Quest, a self-paced program that connects people to “the beautiful landscapes of Virginia via the state park’s streams, lakes, rivers and bays and rewards them for their time spent on the water.”
“Virginia State Parks is proud to provide another great avenue for visitors to experience the rich diversity of the state parks system,” said State Parks Director Melissa Baker. “From rivers, to lakes, to the Chesapeake Bay, Virginians can experience a wide range of paddle experiences at Virginia State Parks.”
Visitors can explore the water through a mixture of ranger-guided programs and self-led adventures, and they can use park rental equipment or personal gear, including canoes, kayaks, standup paddle boards or paddle boats, DCR said.
To earn rewards, visitors must create an account on the State Park Adventures system and log each paddle. Prizes, including a sticker, patch, mesh gear bag, and cellphone dry bag, are given in increments. Those who complete the challenge by paddling at all 31 parks also receive a Virginia State Parks certificate, according to the agency.
Sammy Zambon, visitor experience specialist, spearheaded the Paddle Quest initiative. DCR said he’s been a canoe and kayak guide with the park system for more than 20 years.
“I hope Paddle Quest allows people to see our parks from a new perspective. Things look and feel different from the water,” said Zambon. “There is a connection between water, boat, paddle and paddler that is very soothing.”
Virginia State Parks reminds new and experienced paddlers to wear a personal floatation device at all times and to know before you go — ask a ranger what to expect on a paddle before you launch.
DCR also encourages visitors looking for a challenge off the water to participate in Trail Quest, another self-paced program that offers rewards just for visiting a park. For more information about Trail Quest or Paddle Quest, go to virginiastateparks.gov/contest