New River Land Trust Nature Play Space

Our Nature Play Space is nestled in an enchanting corner of the Town of Blacksburg’s Heritage Park. Look for the welcomiimage of boy playing at the Nature Play Spaceng arbor entrance leading to an inviting meeting space made of boulders and logs. Interpretive signs at the play space and throughout Heritage Park encourage families to play. A pollinator garden and birdhouses attract many animals and beneficial insects to investigate.  A new child-sized birdhouse was built in November 2018, funded by the Rotary Club of Blacksburg and designed by Shelter Alternatives.

Nature play includes digging in the dirt, cloud watching, tree climbing, catching bugs, wading—it’s unstructured free time outside. A combination of increased societal fear, “plugged-in” play, school reform that doesn’t allow for direct outdoor experience, and over-scheduled family agendas means that today’s children are playing outside less. According to, children spend an average of just 30 minutes per week in unstructured outdoor play.

Nature play stimulates all of the senses and promotes every aspect of healthy child development—physical, cognitive, creative, social/emotional and spiritual. Compelling evidence shows that unstructured outdoor play, more than any other type of environmental education, produces adults who are conservationists.

We host our seasonal, free Outdoor Family Classes in the Nature Play Space. We encourage families from the New River Valley to visit and play any time.  You can access the play space via the Glade Road entrance of Heritage Park, at 2300 Glade Road in Blacksburg, VA.