EWING, VA – APRIL 7, 2023 – Visitors from several states have found a place to camp and to stable their horses as they arrive in Lee County to ride the equestrian trails in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, or stop to visit the White Rocks, Sand Cave or Hensley Settlement Trails. Rock Bottom Horse Camp, LLC not only offers lodging for horses and their owners who are touring the area, but also for those just traveling through the area.

Rock Bottom Horse Camp, LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant.

“Rock Bottom Horse Camp, LLC offers a truly unique tourism experience, providing a place for people to camp with their horses as they come to our area to enjoy the outdoor activities and equestrian trails located in the Lee County area,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “Their business plan and projections for future growth fit well in the creative tourism sector which is one of the areas VCEDA specifically targets for development growth. Currently, Rock Bottom Horse Camp, LLC has one full-time and one part-time employee.”

Rock Bottom Horse Camp owners John and Erin Miele said visitors thus far have come to their new business from Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee to name a few states. In addition to the stable facilities for horses, the camp, located in Ewing, Va., also offers five RV sites and three tent sites. Four new 10×14 stalls have been constructed with four more planned. Future plans call for the addition of a bathhouse.

“While Rock Bottom Horse Camp is an RV campground catering to equestrian trail riders, offering horse friendly campsites, horse stalls and other amenities, all other campers are also welcome,” said John Miele. “This location is also frequently visited by hikers and people traveling through the area. Our intent is to make it possible for these visitors and equestrian trail riders – from out of town and surrounding areas – to come and enjoy the wonderful trails and explore this beautiful area. The biggest deterrent for equestrian riders wanting to ride these trails is the lack of horse friendly accommodations.”

Prior to developing the business, Miele said he and his wife had been renting two campsite locations through HipCamp.com at their farm. From feedback there, Miele said, the need for horse friendly camping became evident. The only campground with access to the trails of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park does not have facilities to support horses, he said.

Plans call for the campground to be built in three phases and followed a poll of riders in the Virginia and East Tennessee area to identify specific requirements for the trail riding community. The initial post generated more than 5,000 views and more than 200 comments with many contacting the Mieles for additional information.

Miele said the VCEDA funds are being used toward the purchase and installation of an RV dump station required by the health department and to connect to the county water supply.

“The grant has really helped us to move on toward the next phase in our development,” Miele said.

The Mieles worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Lee County Economic Development Authority.

“Mountain Empire Community College’s SBDC has enjoyed working with John and Erin Miele as they developed Rock Bottom Horse Camp,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC.  “The campground provides much needed camping and campsites for horse trailers on their beautiful property near White Rocks in Lee County, Virginia. The Mieles’ offer horseback riders the opportunity to enjoy miles of trails and a place to stay.” 

The business may be reached by calling 276-445-6676. Reservations may also be made online at www.rockbottomhorsecamp.com.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses, within qualifying business categories, one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.