Discovery Trips

Chanterelle Mushroom in VirginiaSUUSI's Discovery trips are where we dive into humans' interaction with Nature. You can visit historic sites and museums or go shopping in nearby towns. Go horseback riding, visit waterfalls, find some mushrooms, visit a winery, or pick some berries on a local farm. We’ve identified many local spots and activities that require little physical exertion and provide a high yield for learning opportunities, exposure to new adventures, and just plain beautiful sites. And, we make sure to keep the fun in every trip we take!

Discovery Difficulty Ratings

Gentle: Level terrain.

Moderate: Slight elevation change, some stairs, some physical exertion required.

Required Equipment for Discovery Trips

It is recommended that you wear sturdy shoes and bring a quart of water and rain gear for all Discovery trips. Helmets are required for horseback riding and will be provided.

  • 501: Under the Wisdom Tree: Caves of Virginia (Family Friendly)Limit 99

    Yup, there are holes in the ground here with raindrops flowing, bats flying through, and spelunkers exploring. We even have one cavern filled with natural gas (no smoking, please).

  • 502: Under the Wisdom Tree: Who Was Here First? Native Americans of SWVA (Family Friendly)Limit 99

    When you hear a land acknowledgment here…who are we acknowledging? When did they get here – and does any culture date back 10,000 years?

  • 503: Under the Wisdom Tree: If I Were a Fish, or a Mussel… (Family Friendly)Limit 99

    Southwest Virginia is a world-class biodiversity hotspot. You won’t find Aquaman or a mermaid in our rivers, but we've got some really special critters breathing underwater.

  • 504: Under the Wisdom Tree: Birds and Flutter-bys (Family Friendly)Limit 99

    Superman would have to eat a double Big Mac in order to fuel up and match the migrations of the birds and butterflies we see all around us at SUUSI. New River Valley is good enough to attract critters from South America and Central Mexico to spend the summer.

  • 560: Monday Forest Bathing Limit 14

    Start the week with an early morning reverent immersion in the forest. Enjoy the silent mindfulness practice of Forest Bathing. It’s the perfect opportunity to center yourself and begin your SUUSI week energized by the coolness of the early morning in slow movement, silent meditation, and acute observation of the forest flora and fauna. Drive Time: 20 mins.

  • 561: Forest Bathing ThursdayLimit 14

    Refresh in the middle of the week with a deep, sensory immersion in the forest. Enjoy the outdoor mindfulness practice of Forest Bathing on a relatively flat trail where we can commune with the living earth. Learn how to walk like a fox, listen like a deer, and see like an owl. We will spend the morning in slow movement, silent meditation, and acute observation of the forest flora and fauna. Drive Time: 25 mins.

  • 562: Fossil Hunt (Family Friendly)Limit 13

    Get ready for a fossil-hunting adventure! Explore the ancient world as you search for well-preserved specimens. Roll up your sleeves, embrace the dirt, and don't forget to bring a bag to collect your treasures. It's time to unearth some prehistoric fun! 30 minute drive time.

  • 563: Exploring Wildwood Park (Family Friendly)Limit 14

    Wildwood Park is a city park located along a stream which flows through a limestone gorge. We will walk through the park on a paved path and we will follow some of the steep natural side trails on the gorge sides. The flora is very different on each side. The park was once the source of water for Radford and the site of an open-air swimming pool. The limestone walls contain sinkholes, small caves, and springs making this a very rich natural area. 10 minute drive time.

  • 564: Herb Farm Tour and Herbal Lunch Limit 14

    Join us for this perennial favorite. Just over an hour's drive from campus is Beagle Ridge Garden and Herb Farm in Wytheville, with 14 theme display gardens showcasing herb and perennial collections. We will stroll through the gardens, eat lunch, watch the hummingbirds feast on the flowers, and visit the “Flying Flowers” butterfly conservatory. Time permitting, individuals may walk one of the many trails on the property or visit the fish pond. The shop contains herbal soaps, lotions, bath gels, and plants. Required: sturdy shoes and drinking water. Lunch and butterfly admission fee included in price. Recommended: extra money for the store. 75 minute one way drive time.

  • 565: Mushroom ForayLimit 14

    Join us for a hunt! We will start with on campus with a short informational session on fungi facts and then we will foray into the wild to learn about the areas most hospitable for their growth. It is likely we will locate and harvest some edible ones. 20 minute drive time.

  • 566: Hahn GardenLimit 14

    The Hahn Horticulture Garden at Va Tech, spanning nearly six acres, combines numerous smaller gardens and features. Constructed mainly by Robert McDuffie's Landscape Construction classes, it includes pergolas, arbors, decks, walls, and bridges. Display beds are created and planted by students, volunteers, faculty, and staff. The garden showcases hundreds of plant species from around the world in various features, such as a shade garden, perennial border, mixed border, xerophytic garden, water features including the Jane Andrews Memorial Stream Garden, Pavilion tent lawn and folly, meadow garden, and the Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion, serving as a special event facility and staff offices. 30 minute drive time.

  • 567: Historic Smithfield (Family Friendly, DEI)Limit 14

    Smithfield is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Virginia Landmarks Register, and is a member of The New River Heritage Coalition. Today, Historic Smithfield uses the complex histories of the region's indigenous peoples, the Preston Family, and the enslaved community to inform their present and future, seeking to inspire a new generation of Americans through the stories and values of the Preston Family and all those who lived at Smithfield. These values are liberty, courage, leadership, education, and justice. We will have a guided tour of the historic grounds and some of the buildings. Admission is provided by SUUSI as a DE&I education effort. Bring money for the gift shop if you would like souvenirs. 30 minute drive.

  • 568: The Berry Patch (Family Friendly)Limit 14

    We’re going berry-pickin! This trip takes us to 3 Birds Berry Farm in Blacksburg, featuring “local, unsprayed goodness” in the form of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. The farm is owned and operated by a family that describes itself as passionate about berries. The experience is sure to be friendly, fun, and down-to-earth. We’ll take a short tour of the farm and then pick all the raspberries and blackberries you and your SUUSI friends can eat! Prices are $3/pint or $20/gallon, prices may vary (pint containers are provided and gallon containers are available for purchase). Enjoy the fruits of summer - and bring the kids! This is one of the few nature trips featuring a “comfort station” on site, but they suggest you bring what comforts you while picking, such as water, hats, bug spray, etc. 20 minute drive time. Closed toe shoes required - it is a working farm.

  • 569: Dixie Caverns Wednesday (Family Friendly)Limit 14

    A caving trip easy enough for everyone. This is your opportunity to see a cave while avoiding all the mud and hard work of wild cave trips. The cavern is well-lit and has comfortable walkways with many small steps. It’s cool inside; you may wish to bring a light jacket. Great for families or those wanting to explore in comfort. Children must be accompanied by an adult and must register for this trip. Caving equipment is not needed, but sturdy, slip-resistant shoes are required. The environment is moist and surfaces are slippery. The drive is 35 minutes one way. Required: car seat or booster seat for children under 8.

  • 570: Dixie Caverns Thursday (Family Friendly)Limit 14

    A caving trip, easy enough for everyone. This is your opportunity to see a cave while avoiding all the mud and hard work of wild cave trips. The cavern is well-lit and has comfortable walkways with many small steps. It’s cool inside; you may wish to bring a light jacket. Great for families or those wanting to explore in comfort. Children must be accompanied by an adult and must register for this trip. Caving equipment is not needed, but sturdy, slip-resistant shoes are required. The environment is moist and surfaces are slippery. The drive is 35 minutes one way. Required: car seat or booster seat for children under 8.

  • 571: A Natural HighLimit 14

    The woods are known for eliciting a sense of awe and ecstasy in those who open themselves to the energies of these pristine natural settings. Phoenix Putney guides this meditation, especially appropriate for outdoor lovers who are open to the possibilities of a heightened connection with nature. Flashlight is required. Wear white and bring something to sit on. Drive Time: 30 min one-way.

  • 573: Downtown Delights: Museums Galore in Roanoke!Limit 14

    Explore downtown Roanoke's vibrant museum scene! Take your pick from three exciting options conveniently located within walking distance, including the Museum of Transportation, Taubman Museum of Art, and the O. Winston Link Museum. After immersing yourself in history and culture, indulge in some retail therapy at nearby shops. It's a day filled with discovery and fun! Museum admission is included in the trip cost. 45 minute drive time.

  • 574: Claytor Lake Family AdventureLimit 14

    Sunning and Soaking - for everyone. This is a great outing for families with small children, persons with physical limitations, and anyone who just wants to relax, soak up the sun, and swim in lovely Claytor Lake. All children must be accompanied by an adult(s), and parents/guardians are responsible for the safety of their children. Recommended: swimsuit. Required: dry change of clothes, towel; car seat or booster seat for children under 8. 20 minute drive time.

  • 575: Horseback Ride MondayLimit 7

    Ride on breathtaking trails where you will pass through landscapes of dense forest to windswept ridge tops. Just 5 minutes from campus, Winterfrost Farms is a non-profit horse rescue that offers a 500-acre home to 60 horses. The horses are fostered at Winterfrost until they can be adopted out to a forever home. The Ride-A-Rescue horseback riding program was started to help support the rescue horses, as part of their rehabilitation. Ride-a-Rescue trail rides use only healthy rescue horses eager and ready to work. All proceeds go to the care of the horses. 10 minute drive time. Long pants are recommended. Helmets required to ride and will be provided.

  • 576: Sunset Horseback RideLimit 7

    We'll Ride into the Sunset! Join us for a twilight experience. See description 575.

  • 577: Last Horseback RideLimit 7

    see description for 575

  • 578: Mabry Mill History and Chocolate Factory (Family Friendly)Limit 14

    The historic Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most photographed mills in the United States. Besides the restored gristmill and sawmill where interpreters demonstrate the milling process, the grounds have a cabin and outbuildings with exhibits and staff demonstrating skills such as tanning, shoemaking, basket weaving, spinning, weaving, and seat caning. There is also a whiskey still, a sorghum mill, and a working blacksmith shop. We will also stop at a nearby locally-owned chocolate factory, “Nancy’s”, where we can see the factory in operation and sample the fudge. Required: Bring $15-25 for lunch. Recommended: extra money for the gift stores. 60-minute drive time.

  • 579: Floyd Shop and DineLimit 14

    Embark on a whimsical adventure to Floyd, VA – a charming small town bursting with creativity! Explore the eclectic dining scene, from the delightful flavors of the Floyd Country Store to the sweet treats at Cocoa Mia. Dive into the vibrant art scene with visits to numerous galleries, where you can discover unique masterpieces. Feeling crafty? Head to Lichen or Knot and create your own terrarium masterpiece. It's a day filled with culinary delights, artistic discoveries, and hands-on fun in the heart of Floyd. Bring money for lunch. 45 minute drive time.

  • 581: Chateau Morrisette WineryLimit 14

    After a scenic drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, we’ll visit the winery for an elegant lunch, winery tour, and wine tasting. Required: $15-25 for lunch (wine with lunch is extra).60 minute drive. Recommended: extra money for wine or gifts to bring back.

  • 582: Long Way Brewing Limit 25

    Long Way Brewing started with a vision: to bring a local craft brewery to Radford's West End, revitalizing the area. After much research and setbacks, an old Seventh Day Adventist church became the chosen location. Amidst brainstorming names and logos“Long Way" was chosen for its regional significance. However, as the journey progressed, "Long Way" came to symbolize the challenging path from idea to pint glass for a small craft brewery. A member of the staff will be available to meet with us and share their story, including their relationship with the Radford Fairlawn Daily Bread. It's trivia night, so bring your thinking caps! Come and enjoy one of the many beers on tap! 15 minute drive time. Food truck on site. Bring ID and money for food, brews and rounding up for Radford Fairlawn Daily Bread.

  • 584: Selu Nature Conservancy: A Tour of History, Culture, and Giving Back (DEI)Limit 20

    Selu Nature Conservancy is named for the mythical Cherokee "grandmother corn-spirit". We'll be led on a journey and tour of the property by John Bowles, who donated his ancestral lands to Radford University to be used by all. John wanted to represent and exemplify the spirit of giving that the indigenous people of the area, the Cherokee nation, believed in and embodied. Embarking on John's Laughing Place walking trail, the steep ascent promises excitement at every turn. Laughter dances through the air as the trail reveals a stunning vista of the Little River below. We will travel down the road to the retreat center where Appalachian architectural heritage unfolds in a blend of log cabin and Victorian styles. We will sit in the meeting room where John will share more information about the seven-sided meditation room, inspired by Cherokee tradition. Within its walls, Wixárika yarn paintings tell tales of creation and spirituality, offering glimpses into a rich cultural tapestry. John will share his more than 40 years of studying this art form and answer any questions you may have. Lunch on the porch or on the grassy lawn. Admission is provided by SUUSI as a DE&I education effort. 20 minute drive.