Category Archives: Uncategorized

Abingdon’s urban trout stream: the restoration of Wolf Creek

Urban trout fishing? The idea is surprising, but that’s exactly what Abingdon offers, thanks to a multi-year restoration of Wolf Creek, a spring-fed creek that runs through the historic Abingdon Muster Grounds.

Now that the restoration is complete, the stream will be stocked with trout, and visitors can cast a line while they take in the beauty and historic significance of the Muster Grounds. (Catch and release only, find more information on Virginia fishing licenses here.)

The Abingdon Muster Grounds are a 9-acre historical park located within the town limits of Abingdon, just 5 minutes from downtown.

Abingdon Muster Grounds aerial view Jesse Burke

Aerial view of the Abingdon Muster Grounds, photo by Jesse Burke

The restoration focused on the stretch of Wolf Creek which runs through the Abingdon Muster Grounds, a site which is owned by the Town of Abingdon and is certified by the National Park Service as the northern terminus of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail.  This restoration project helped stabilize the stream bank, improve the hydrology, create habitat and re-introduce native species of plants and trees.  Now that the restoration is done, this section of Wolf Creek is a prime location to support the “Trout in the Classroom” program.

Rainbow trout

Biologists are experimenting with stocking native brook trout as well as brown trout and rainbow trout. Photo by Lisac Mark, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

During the Revolutionary War, 400 Virginians set out to join patriot militia from modern-day Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.  After a two week campaign, the Overmountain Men fought the Battle of Kings Mountain with overwhelming success, helping turn the tide of the war. As they gathered, or “mustered,” they would have camped on the banks of Wolf Creek. The new restoration, in addition to providing habitat for trout, helps recreate the look of the creek as the Overmountain Men would have known it.

Every year, reenactors celebrate the Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain, 1780 with living demonstrations at the Abingdon Muster Grounds.

Every year, reenactors celebrate the Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain, 1780 with living demonstrations at the Abingdon Muster Grounds.

A ribbon cutting will be held September 23, 2017 at 10:00 a.m., celebrating the completion of the Wolf Creek Stream Bank Restoration.  Many partners came together to restore the Wolf Creek stream bank, including: Town of Abingdon Virginia, Mountain Empire Chapter-Trout Unlimited, Virginia Department Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Forestry, Upper Tennessee Roundtable, National Park Service-Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, Carter Land and Water and the Virginia Chapter-Overmountain Victory Trail Association.

For more information,  call Leigh Ann Hunter at (276) 525-1050 or email lhunter@abingdon-va.gov

An artist takeover at the Abingdon Visitor Center

 

 

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PAINTER JAMES E. TURNER IN RESIDENCE THIS FALL

The arts are woven in to the community in Abingdon, and now the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau will highlight a new local artist each quarter with its Artist Takeover program.   Every few months, a new artist will take over the ground floor of the Abingdon Visitor Center at 335 Cummings Street, with a wall-sized art installation, and an exhibit of their artwork, which will be for sale to the public.  The program launches with painter James E. Turner, and the public is invited to a gallery opening as part of Abingdon’s First Thursday gallery crawl, Thursday October 6, 2016 at 5:00pm.

The Artist Takeover will highlight Abingdon’s art scene, and give artists without a studio space of their own a place to display.  Each artist will be asked to design and install a full wall-sized mural in the Visitor Center, which will then be painted over for the next artist taking over the space.

james-turner-fine-artJames E. Turner, also known as Corry the Psychic, is currently in residence at the Visitor Center, painting a painting a 6-foot-high canvas “mural” for the gallery.  Turner, who is also a practicing psychic, creates “spirit paintings,” applying multiple layers of iridescent colors to create abstract, organic shapes.

“As an artist with a brain condition, I capture the beautiful visions I experience,” Turner says.  “They are wheels within wheels and circles within circles.  Colors are cheerful, vibrant, flat, glossy, matt, metallic, and iridescent.   The work changes as the light changes and they are seen from different angles.  They glow in dim light reflections and burst into radiance with daylight.  A photo doesn’t capture the real appearance any more than iridescent butterfly wing can be captured in a photo.”

turner-wheels-within-wheels-_6There will be an opening reception Thursday October 6, 2016, from 5:00 to 7:00pm at the Abingdon Visitor Center at 335 Cummings Street, in conjunction with Abingdon’s First Thursday.  For more information on the First Thursday gallery crawl, visit the facebook page at /abingdonfirstthursday.

For more information on James E. Turner, visit http://www.jameseturnerfineart.com/  and to learn more about his alter ego, Corry the Psychic, visit http://www.corrythepsychic.com/

Ready to escape the election news? Go off the grid in Abingdon, VA

Virginia Creeper Trail – Sam Dean Photography

Are you already feeling a little tired of wall-to-wall election coverage?   Since many of us are attached at the hip (literally!) to our smartphones, it can be hard to get away from the news.

We’ve solved the problem for you, with a list of places that don’t just tempt you to turn off your phone – they force you to!

The Virginia Creeper Trail

Even though it’s an easy, mostly downhill ride on this famous trail, texting and biking is still a bad idea.  Plus, large sections of the trail within Jefferson National Forest have no cell reception. Keep your phone with you for taking pictures of the gorgeous mountains and trestle bridges, but wait to update your Instagram feed until you get back to town. #latergram #creepertrail  Find out more>

Virginia Creeper Trail, Green Cove Station

Green Cove Station, Virginia Creeper Trail – Sam Dean Photography

 

Barter Theatre

Escape into the world of imagination with a play or musical at Barter Theatre.  Best of all, the use of cellphones or other electronic devices is not allowed during the show.  So pay attention to the pre-show announcement, and turn it to airplane mode, unwrap your candy, and enjoy two hours of news-free entertainment. Find out more>

Actors on stage at Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA

Courtesy of Barter Theatre

Adventure Mendota Kayaking

Located just outside of Abingdon on the North Fork of the Holston River, this outfitter’s slogan is “Get off the grid and into the river!”   You’ll be out of cell range for most of your trip, while you lazily paddle down the river (this section is generally rated Class 1 or Class 2, great for beginners and families).  Find out more >

Courtesy of Adventure Mendota

Courtesy of Adventure Mendota

The Spa at The Martha

The Martha Washington Inn & Spa actually has excellent cell reception, and free wi-fi for guests.  But you won’t want to use it when you sign up for a day of pampering at the spa. This grand old hotel in downtown Abingdon offers massage, facials, mani/pedis, body treatments, a heated salt-water pool and outdoor hot tub and fire pit.  Put that phone on silent, slip on a robe and bliss out.

Indoor swimming pool at the Martha Washington Inn & Spa - Jason Barnette

Indoor swimming pool at the Martha Washington Inn & Spa – Jason Barnette

The Abingdon Visitor Center gets a new look (that’s really an old look)

 

Industrial Electrical overhead line construction at the pro football hall of fame in Canton, Ohio.

The small town of Abingdon has been welcoming visitors for nearly 250 years, ever since it was a stop for weary travelers heading west on the Great Wilderness Road. Thousands of tourists are attracted to Abingdon each year to visit Barter Theatre, the Virginia Creeper Trail, and the beautiful historic downtown shopping district.  Now, the town’s official Visitor Center has gotten a new paint job that restores its historic charm.

The Abingdon Visitor Center is located at 335 Cummings Street, in a former private residence built in 1906.  The house was in need of exterior painting, and town officials decided to try to determine the home’s original Victorian colors, in order restore the building to its original appearance. Using tiny core samples, a historic conservator was able to analyze the layers of paint and find the original 1906 colors.

The Abingdon Visitor Center before restoration.

The Abingdon Visitor Center before restoration.

The Hassinger House, also known as The Grove, is a late Victorian clapboarded and decoratively shingled house built in 1906 by William Hassinger, who owned Hassinger Lumber of Konnarock, VA.

The project used cross-section microscopy analysis techniques to determine the original exterior paint palette. The study showed that the house had gone through at least 17 to 18 paint jobs throughout the years, with up to 25 generations of paint in some areas.  The earliest paints were then color matched for replication, and the results were dramatically different from the building’s 21st-Century appearance.

Victorian homes were often affectionately called “Painted Ladies,” for their vivid, multi-colored appearances.  The report found that the Hassinger House originally had a much more intense color scheme, “painted with an earth tone palette of deep red-brown, olive green and cream-color. No other colors were found during this research, but it is possible there could even have been a fourth color (based on suggested commercial palettes of the period.”

Newly painted in green, red-brown and cream, the Abingdon Visitor Center will now give visitors a preview of the many historic sites the town has to offer.

The newly painted Visitor Center welcomes guests.

The newly painted Visitor Center welcomes guests.

 

Pokemon Go: Catch ’em all in Abingdon

Over 8 million people have downloaded the new game Pokémon Go, and downtown Abingdon has been flooded with Pokémon trainers searching for Squirtles, Charmanders, and of course, Pikachu himself.

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We’ve put together this handy guide to hunting Pokémon in Abingdon, including where to recharge your phone for free, where grab a bite to eat while you’re hunting, what else to see in town while you’re here, and tips for how to catch ’em all without breaking any laws (or any bones!).

The Abingdon Police Department has an important message for players. “Attention all Pokémon trainers, we need your help. As you pursue Pikachu, or any other Poké-characters, please use caution.  Sometimes people do not understand that you are playing in augmented reality. Remember in the real world, laws apply.”  Read more here.

So remember, keep your eyes on the road while driving, respect private property, be safe, and have fun! And if you catch a particularly rare Pokémon in Abingdon, take a screenshot and tell us about it with the hashtag #PokemonGoAbingdon.

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Pokestops in Historic Abingdon

Known Poke Stops include the Abingdon Farmers Market, Barter Theatre, Washington County Library, the Virginia Creeper Trail and the sidewalk in front of The Martha Washington Inn & Spa.

In addition, wild Pokemon have been sighted all up and down Abingdon’s historic district, at places like The Tavern, and the stores at the Market District, Park Street, and Courthouse Hill.

While you’re out hunting, stop by one of Abingdon’s restaurants for something to eat or drink.

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Pokémon Gyms

Put your Pokémon to the test as you battle it out in one of these Gyms.   Remember, town parks are closed after dark, and make sure to respect private property.  Gyms located in Abingdon include the sculpture garden at the William King Museum of Art, Barter Stage II, Heartwood, the town park at the corner of Tanner St. and Park St., the Arts Depot and Veterans Park

 

 

Charge your phone for free

Did you know Abingdon offers two free phone charging stations in downtown? If your battery is running low while you are out hunting, look for the bright red English phone booths in front of the Municipal parking lot on Main Street and at the Creeper Trail Welcome Center.  Each phone booth contains a free charging station.

Phone Booth 2015

Top tips for how to get the most out of a street festival

Just in time for the Virginia Highlands Festival (July 29 – August 7, 2016), we have this insider’s guide to how to enjoy a street festival.

Becky Caldwell, Executive Director of the Virginia Highlands Festival says in this month’s Blue Ridge Country magazine, “I have a confession to make – I am a festival junkie…I prefer to eat my food off a stick and a paper plate than a fancy restaurant. Beer belongs in plastic cup, and the best dancing happens on the grass.”

The Virginia Highlands Festival showcases the region’s best art and culture, including fine arts, antiques, music, outdoor adventures, writing workshops, and Appalachian history.  See the full schedule at VaHighlandsFestival.org.

People dance in the street during the Thursday Jam at the Farmers Market in Abingdon, VA on Thursday, June 6, 2013. Copyright 2013 Jason Barnette

Check out her pro tips below, and then make plans to put them in to action at the 68th Virginia Highlands Festival in downtown Abingdon, July 29 – August 7, 2016.

1. Dress for the weather, and plenty of walking. Don’t worry about looking cute, because everyone has the same trickle of sweat running down the small of their back. Just be comfortable!  That means good walking shoes, loose, breathable clothing, and sun protection like a hat, visor, or sunglasses.

Families enjoy walking the street during the 2012 Virginia Highlands Festival in Abingdon, VA

 

2. Know that you will spend more on food and drinks at a festival than you probably did for a week’s worth of groceries. Embrace this fact, and enjoy your $10 burger.

3. Leave your diet at home. You know who eats a salad at a festival? No one! It’s time for funnel cake and BBQ – in that order. Besides, you’ll probably walk off all those calories anyway.

Independence Day hotdog 944x424

4. Loosen up about the schedule. Things in a festival can change all the time because of traffic, weather, or general life craziness. Show up ready to explore, and don’t let yourself be limited to the printed event guide. Which leads us directly to Tip #5….

5. Try something new. The best thing about a festival is the sheer quantity of things happening all at once, that you don’t normally have access to. Check out that new band, play a game you’ve never played before, see some art, explore a park.

HighlandsFestivalArt-944x424Find out more about the Virginia Highlands Festival at vahighlandsfestival.org.

A Perfect Lake Getaway Outside Abingdon, VA

South Holston Lake in Bristol, TN

Just a 20 minute drive outside of Abingdon’s town limits, South Holston Lake stretches over miles of open water, surrounded by pristine mountain ridges.  About 60% of the shoreline is bordered by the Cherokee National Forest, and much of the shoreline is undeveloped, making it one of the most scenic lakes in Virginia. (The 7580-acre reservoir straddles the VA/TN border.)

The history behind the lake is as extensive as the lake itself. The Tennessee Valley Authority came to the area in 1942 to start construction on a dam. It was then completed in 1950. Local lore says that there were towns,farms, and graveyards flooded in order to build and create the South Holston Dam and Lake.

To help you and your family explore this undiscovered treasure in the Abingdon area, we’ve compiled a list of marinas, outfitters and public parks.  From boating, to scuba diving, to fishing, to simply having a picnic on the lake, there is something for everyone and every age.

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Boating

One of the biggest attractions is to boat on the lake during the summer. Many marinas offer boat rentals for families of every size.  With miles of open lake there is little crowding and a great place for swimming and boating without worry.

The Sportsman’s Marina is the most convenient access point for boating, located just 15 minutes from downtown Abingdon. In addition to boat rentals, Sportsman’s offers towables, kayaks, paddle boards, Jetblades, and an Aquapark.  Grab lunch at the Broken Ski Grill before heading out on the water.

Painter Creek Marina offers fully equipped half-day and full-day pontoon boat rentals, along with casual dining at the Painter Creek Grille.

Friendship Resort and Marina is a family-oriented marina surrounded by pristine national forest, offering boat rentals with seating for up to 10.

 

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Fishing

For those fishermen who have their own gear the Washington County Park is a great place to spend the day catching fish and relaxing by the lake.With many different places to stop and fish as well as other activities for the family this is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. 

If you are a beginner fisherman or simply want to teach your children how to fish, the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop offers fishing gear, classes and guided excursions.  Or, pick up some gear at Mahoney’s Outfitters, conveniently located on Cummings Street/Hwy 75, on the way to the Lake. 

There are many different kinds of fish that live in the South Holston Lake. Among some of the most popular fish are: Channel Catfish, Bluegills, Small and Large Mouth Bass and Black Bass.  Learn more at the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries >

Other Adventures 

Adventure Diving

If you and your family are extreme adventurists then Adventure Diving will fit the bill! This is your chance to see the South Holston Lake close up. Through their Discover Scuba tour they provide a short lesson and then a tour of the bottom of The South Holston Lake.  This is a great way to get up close and personal with this beautiful lake.  

Paddleboarding and Jetskis

Just a short 15 minute drive Abingdon you’ll find the Sportsmans Marina. They offer more than just boat rentals. They can provide jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, tubes, and other water equipment for a fun day on the lake!

Places To Stay

When visiting the South Holston Lake it can be hard to only stay for one day. With the beautiful mountains, the rich local history, and small town eateries many visitors choose to stay for a few nights.  

Abingdon offers a number of affordable hotels, B&Bs and cabins with easy access to South Holston Lake.  For the best of both worlds, combine the comfortable lodging and great restaurants of Abingdon with a fun day on the lake.  Find out more about Abingdon lodging options >

Or, for the visitors who have a wild side or simply love waking up and watching a sunrise on the lake, there are a number of campgrounds around the South Holston Lake that provide an easy drive into Abingdon for the evening. Find out more about camping options at South Holston Lake >

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South Holston Lake is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day, fish, and simply enjoy the mountains on a family vacation. With so much to do it is no wonder this is a visitor hotspot!

Cool activities for kids in Abingdon

Make your family vacation memorable with one of these cool, kid-friendly activities.  See live theatre, pet an alpaca, take a ghost tour, and explore the great outdoors. It’s always play time in Abingdon, so browse our list of cool activities for kids and decide how you’ll play today.

Bicyclists ride along the Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon, VA.

Bicyclists ride along the Virginia Creeper Trail in Abingdon, VA.

The Virginia Creeper Trail

The Virginia Creeper Trail is a bucket list trail, popular with families for its accessibility and easy downhill slope.  Bike rentals and shuttle service are available from the Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop in Abingdon or a number of outfitters in nearby Damascus. The most popular segment is White Top Station to Damascus, measuring about 17 miles, almost all of it an easy downhill ride.  vacreepertrailbikeshop.com

Adventure Mendota

“Float the Fork” – enjoy relaxed kayaking or tubing on the North Fork of the Holston River.  The  kayak trip is five river miles, tubing is just shy of one river mile.  Adventure Mendota will launch you with your squirt gun for some old-fashioned fun, then tube or kayak back to the pick up spot. adventuremendota.com

 

Abingdon Farmers Market

Considered the best farmers market in the region, the Abingdon Farmers Market offers art, crafts, baked goods and apparel, in addition to produce and meat. On Tuesdays, look for the Farm Fresh Kids booth. Every Tuesday afternoon, children receive hands-on experience in choosing fruits and vegetables, tasting and preparing different foods. After the lesson, children are given a $2 Fresh Buck coupon to spend on healthy foods at the market. Open Tuesdays 3pm-6pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm during the season. abingdonfarmersmarket.com

 

Abingdon Spirit Tours

Now in its 19th year, Abingdon Spirit Tours are led by the one and only Haint Mistress, Donnamarie Emmert. This tour is especially popular in the month of October, but it can be reserved throughout the year, weather permitting. It is a two hour walking tour of downtown Abingdon, where visitors are entertained with bits of Abingdon history as well as local ghost lore. Call 276-706-6093 for info.

 

Mini-Golf at The Martha

The Martha Washington Inn & Spa is well known for grown up treats like 4-star accommodations and spa services. But now kids can get in on the fun with a mini-golf course that is open to the public. In 2015, The Martha opened a mini links course on its property. The 18 holes feature Abingdon-themed obstacles.  Balls and putters can be rented at the front desk, and the course is open during daylight hours. themartha.com

Take a farm tour and pet the alpacas at Dreamland Alpacas just outside Abingdon, VA.

Take a farm tour and pet the alpacas at Dreamland Alpacas just outside Abingdon, VA.

Dreamland Alpacas

Pet the alpacas and learn more about these friendly relatives of the llama! This alpaca farm is open to the public, with a gift shop featuring products made from the cozy soft alpaca wool. In Meadowview, VA, just 15 minutes from Abingdon.  dreamlandalpacas.com

 

Barter Theatre

The state theatre of Virginia, Barter offers a diverse mix of musicals, plays and comedies. Many plays on the main stage are appropriate for older children. The Barter Players present theatre for young people, ages 5 and up. Call the Barter Theatre box office for information on specific plays. Youth tickets and family packages available.  bartertheatre.com

Get great views of the Virginia Creeper Trail as you do the zipline course in Whitetop, VA.

Get great views of the Virginia Creeper Trail as you do the zipline course in Whitetop, VA.

Creeper Trail Zip Line

Located at the top of the Creeper Trail. Take a zipline tour with stunning views of the mountains and the trail.  A Trip Advisor Reviewer wrote “It is an easy, four line run, great for first timers. The staff was friendly and thorough in explaining the necessary skills…They have an excellent Facebook page that they keep updated with pics of each day’s riders. Being able to see the range of people who do it (heights, weights, ages etc) was a comfort in deciding to give it a go.If you’re visiting the Virginia Creeper Trail, consider doing the zipline. You’ll be glad you did.” creeperzipline.com

 

Area festivals offer fun for the whole family. Pictured: Trail Days in Damascus, VA.

BONUS IDEA! Area festivals offer fun for the whole family. Pictured: Trail Days in Damascus, VA.

 

Fly Fishing in Abingdon, VA



7959279202_982880c96a_bWhen you think of Abingdon’s outdoor recreation, your mind probably goes straight to the Virginia Creeper Trail, and with good reason – between 150 and 200 thousand people use the trail each year.

Abingdon, however, offers a lot more in the way of outdoor sports, including an outstanding but under the radar fly-fishing scene. Some of the best fly fishing on the east coast can be found in Washington County, a few minutes outside Abingdon.

The prize gem of the area is Whitetop Laurel Creek. Beginning in two smaller feeder streams (the Little Laurel & the Big Laurel), Virginia’s Whitetop Laurel Creek ranks as one of the finest natural wild trout streams in the Southeastern U.S. Paralleled for long sections by both the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper Trail, the stream offers numerous large pools and access for handicapped anglers.

Rainbow_trout_fish_onchorhynchus_mykiss_detailed_photographyAs waters cool in the Fall, trout begin feeding heavily and those in Whitetop Laurel are no exception. Autumn offers the best chance to tangle with one of the stream’s trophy brown trout as they prepare to spawn. Don’t let this fool you into thinking that Whitetop Laurel is an Autumn-only fishing destination, in spring, activity levels of trout increase greatly making Whitetop Laurel a true all season fly fishing hot spot.

Look for brown trout 20 inches or more as well as numerous wild rainbow trout, a rarity in the Southeast.

 
2403263854_89a03ed64e_b3744170211_23ac5eeddc_bWant to get into fly-fishing, but don’t know where to start? Abingdon has you covered! The first choice of local anglers for equipment and tours is the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop; an excellent place for anglers of any level! Also look out for High County Angler Fly Fishing, Mountain Sports Ltd, and South Holston River Fly Shop.

For more information on outdoor recreation in the area, check out VisitAbingdonVirginia.com.

 

Historic Abingdon Homes Open Doors for the 17th Annual Home and Garden Tour!


Main Street in Abingdon, VAThe residential charm of historic Abingdon, Virginia will welcome you in when the Abingdon Garden Club hosts its 17th Annual Home and Garden Tour on Saturday, June 27th

In all, the tour is made up of six locations, each more beautiful than the last, and all located within the boundaries of Abingdon. From historical architecture to modern art, and from sunny terraces to labyrinth paths, this tour has something for everyone.

Built in 1832, the Daniel Lynch House features many historical and architectural highlights including handmade bricks and ornate moldings. Inside the home, heart pine floors, a hand carved mantle and the three-story staircase bring historical Abingdon to life before your eyes. The home is bordered by two beautiful gardens including a fairy garden and a classic English garden featuring a natural koi pond.

A second 19th century home, also in the historic district, features a beautiful two-story frame design. Originally built as a bed and breakfast, the home welcomes you in with a peaceful back porch overlooking a lush perennial and cottage garden with a bubbling fountain and paved walkways.

Tickets are $10.00, and all proceeds benefit the Abingdon Garden Club. Organized in 1927, the Abingdon Garden Club uses proceeds from the tour to promote youth education and environmental responsibility. Continuing projects of the club include plantings at Eberhardt Park, floral containers at the JMH Cancer Center, and the Shakespearean Garden at the William King Museum of Art.

Pre-tour tickets will be on sale at local businesses Greer Jewelers and Necessities in downtown Abingdon. Tickets will also be on sale the day of the tour at the Abingdon Convention and Visitors Center (335 Cummings Street) as well as at any of the gardens on the tour.

Homes are open between 10:00am and 5:00pm for self-guided tours; open rain or shine.