Taking a side trip while at Smith Mountain Lake often means venturing into the countryside for a different view of life. Without driving too far, nature and more awaits, like that found at Smith Mountain Lake Alpaca Farm. We heard about this farm from another boater out on the lake and decided to call and make reservations for a tour before leaving the area. It turned out to be a treat, and we learned so much about alpacas that we even considered starting a small farm of our own one day.
A husband-and-wife team owns and operates the Smith Mountain Lake Alpaca Farm located in the Hardy countryside. On the farm, they house between 50 and 80 alpacas at a time and are one of the largest agriculture tourism facilities in the country.
What makes this alpaca farm stand out from the other approximately 4,000 farms throughout the US is that, here, they do everything. That everything includes breeding of their alpacas, turning fiber into fashion, leading farm tours, and coaching those who wish to become future alpaca farmers. It is also a handicapped-friendly facility.
There is a small gift shop onsite offering gorgeous alpaca sweaters, socks, and pillows. The farm also creates its own designs, including for blankets and scarves, and you can recognize these by looking for the Pendleton label. These and more are also for sale at the Harvest Moon Marketplace, which the owners also helped to create.
The Smith Mountain Lake Alpaca Farm is situated on Morewood Road in Hardy, and is located across from the Westlake Golf & Country Club. As you arrive, you’ll find a low-key entrance into this working farm.
All along the way and once here, you can also enjoy plenty of landscape scenery for which this part of central Virginia is famous for, including a background edged by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
To gain access to the alpaca farm, you must have a reservation.
Everyone must call and make a reservation for the day they wish to see and tour the farm. The tour times available include:
- Saturday tours: 10:30, 12:30, and 2:30
- Daily weekday tours: 10:30, 12:30, 2:30
- Sunday: 12:30, 2:30 (or 1:30 and 3:30)
These tours fill up fast, especially on the weekends, so as soon as you know when you want to go, call and reserve your spots.
The admission fee is $10 per person, with children under 2 free. Included in this fee is a portion of grain that you can feed to the alpacas.
The Farm Tour
The alpaca farm tour takes about an hour and a half and is highly educational and interactive for all ages. You’ll learn about the history and science surrounding all things alpaca from a passionate and knowledgeable guide, which at times, may be one of the owners themselves. Along the way, you may even get to hug an alpaca or hold a baby one. Everyone is given a portion of feed with admittance and can feed the alpacas also.
It’s not a petting zoo type of experience but instead is more of a natural history talk and walk. One of the farm tour goals is to raise awareness about the benefits of alpaca fibers, and another is to share what it is like to run an alpaca farm and raise them. The farm owners are definitely passionate about alpacas and what they do. This clearly shows in everything they say and do.
For groups of ten or more, the farm offers group educational tours. We hear they may also offer a “Behind the Scenes Tour,” a 30-minute tour of only the Alpaca Nursery area, which is ideal for small children and anyone with walking difficulties, but I suggest you call beforehand to be sure.
An Advanced Tour, called Alpaca 101, is really a training session that you have to call and schedule. Apparently, it is a hands-on learning experience, covering such topics as alpaca anatomy, basic veterinary care, fencing and managing practices, and more.
Just watching the alpacas was fun for us, and we did enjoy feeding and hugging them. We even captured a few fun selfies with them to take home with us.
About the Alpacas
The owners and operators of Smith Mountain Lake Alpaca Farm are big on education and sharing what they know with others. They pride themselves in having the top educational facility in the country while also specializing in the breeding and selling of their show-quality alpacas. The alpacas on the farm come from high premium bloodlines found across the US, and on any given day, you can find up to 70 or 80 of them across the landscape.
- You must have a reservation to tour the farm!