Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 39

enjoyed his steady career at the hospital,
he always found himself building in his
spare time. He built two homes in Bath
County, Virginia when he first started out,
and people were impressed with his style.
He recalls a friend saying back then, "Boy,
if I could build something like that, I sure
would find a way to do it full time." That
got Harrison thinking about pursuing his
hobby more seriously.
In 2015, Harrison worked with his
wife's cousin to build a large-scale cabin in
Vinton, Virginia, which they rented out.
People liked the cabin so much they asked
Harrison to build more. He didn't have
time then, but he kept the idea alive that
one day he would. He built his first micro
cabin with the arch design in 2016 and
was planning to sell it.

FACING PAGE LEFT: The Explore Park campground features several arch-design micro cabins.
FACING PAGE RIGHT: Don and Melody Harrison accept an award by Virginia Recreation and
Parks Society in 2018.
BELOW: The campground also features four yurts.
LOWER LEFT: An aerial view of the campground.
LOWER RIGHT: Don Harrison is also a dedicated banjo picker.

"I don't like to build just regular square
things," Harrison says, "I like unique
structures."
The lodging at Don's Cab-Inns Campground is unique indeed. Harrison creates each cabin to be fun and functional
although he hadn't originally considered
them for a campground. Harrison says
it was all a matter of good timing that
brought him to Explore Park to fulfill a
life-long dream of running his own business along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In 2017, Harrison discovered that Roanoke County, Virginia was seeking accommodation ideas for a new campground
being established at Explore Park and he
wondered if they would consider his concept. County officials viewed his micro
cabin and asked how many more he could
build. Harrison agreed to build three more
and see how they worked out. The county
then asked the Harrisons if they wanted
to operate the campground themselves
and they came to a lease agreement. At
the time of signing the agreement, Harri-

son was still working full time but in 2018
when his department was sold to another
company he saw his opening to dive into
entrepreneurship. He smiles as he says,
"I've always loved being out in the mountains so the opportunity to have my own
business here-well, I was pretty happy
about that."
According to Harrison, it takes about
six weeks to build one cabin. Once he had
a few cabins up, he was asked if he could
build yurts. Yurts are large, round dwellings with their own bathrooms. Harrison
found a yurt manufacturer in Oregon,
shipped them here and then constructed
them to add to the campground. At the
time of print, there are a total of four yurts
and seven cabins all equipped with furniture and cooling and/or heating, a small
fridge, coffee maker and microwave. Harrison recently added new couple's cabins
which include a dinette area and fireplace.
"We wanted to create a nice atmosphere for couples and give them something a little fancier," he says.
Each campsite offers a picnic table and
fire pit. A modern bath house is on site as
well as a shared water pump and a camp
store. Additionally, the campground has
six RV spaces available.
In 2018 the Harrisons won the Best
New Facility Bricks and Mortar award by
Virginia Recreation and Parks Society and
received a Distinguished Private Sector
Service Award for their business.
"This first year has been good," Harrison explains. "We didn't really know
what to expect in the beginning, but it has
turned out better than I thought."
As the campground grows in popularity there are plans to expand with even
more unique spaces. Harrison says he's
grateful how things have worked out for
him to live out his dream of working on
his own and enjoying the mountains every day.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

39



Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020

Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 5
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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 7
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - 8
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Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country September/October 2020 - Cover4
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