ST. PAUL, Va. - It's the height of the tourism season and business is booming right in the heart of Southwest Virginia.
It all began last year with the building of an ATV trail near St. Paul, and its success is being told all over the states. It's becoming a blueprint for other small towns in the mountains.
Riding along the streets of St. Paul in an ATV is pretty much a normal thing these days. Just last year the Mountain View ATV Trail was completed, and that gave enthusiasts 80 miles of mountain trails to enjoy year-round. "We actually anticipated probably eight months worth of tourists for the town of St. Paul. I am happy to say it has been a 12-month success. We had riders here when it was eight below zero. I delivered permits to the trailhead when it was eight below zero," Andrea Hicks with Spearhead Trails told us.
There are enough trails to suit any rider, but of course it's those tough mountain rides that everybody is looking for. The mountains around St. Paul have the perfect combination. "The ATV world brings a massive amount of economic impact. We are not seeing single riders. We are seeing families bring in groups of a minimum of 8 ATV's at a time," she said.
Not for the thrill, but for the fun. "It's not for the thrill, it's just to get out in outdoors and ride. We saw a nice flock of turkeys this morning. A mom and a bunch of little ones. We just like to get out," rider Bill Whitt says.
When you get out, you're going to spend money, and you can ride your machine downtown to do so. "That's great! They do it in West Virginia. If we need to get gas we ride into town and get it. We're going to Food City here in a little bit and get some chow," Whitt said.
"When the people here recognize our efforts and having a town that is ATV-friendly along with a great trail system, it's a perfect combination for success," Hicks said.
And a blueprint for others.