Now that the pandemic is reaching its tail-end and the outside is opening back up, Coble’s Landing is open and ready for business.

But the story of the Southeast’s first Black-owned nature preserve is a story of resilience in and of itself. Even as COVID-19 raged on and travel was all but halted, founders (and married couple) Rex and Shawanda Coble saw their business thrive.

“Since we are outdoors, we provided a safe option for fun during COVID, especially when it got warmer,” Rex Coble told TravelNoire. “People were able to enjoy time with their loved ones without too many restrictions, and we had ample space for any social distancing. The hardest part of creating the space during COVID was when it came to the construction and development — things out pushed back a little, but we were able to stay on track with help from other family and friends and the community.”

Courtesy of Coble’s Landing

The idea for Coble’s Landing first came about when the couple — who are avid fans of the outdoors — began noticing the disparities among treatment and the basic feeling of being welcome in the outdoor leisure space as a Black family. Rex Coble, a native of North Carolina, even recalled when he and his family were specifically asked to leave certain camping sites to make way for white families who didn’t feel comfortable in their presence.

“When I started hearing the same story from other Black families, I knew I had to do something,” he said. “Then I remembered that my family had owned land in the area until the mid-1920s, and it was currently for sale. The 25 acres included a fishing pond, natural hiking trails, and enough area to build cabins, performance areas, ATV trails, and so much more. So, I bought the land, and with the help of my family, friends, and community members, began clearing the land to create Coble’s Landing.”

Currently billing itself as a “multi-purpose compound,” Coble’s Landing offers unique outdoor experiences specifically designed for Black families to feel more comfortable in the outdoor space. Fishing, camping, and hiking are all on the menu, but there are also ATV and bike trails, as well as an outdoor gazebo space which can be rented out for family reunions and other parties. In the future, Coble’s Landing will offer cabins and RVs for rent, and are currently in the end phases of building a sustainable community garden.

Courtesy of Coble’s Landing

“It’s no secret that nature and outdoor activities aren’t marketed to Black people and families, but it’s so ingrained in us,” he said. “We are continuously developing the land and adding other amenities to it to fit everyone’s needs. We are welcoming people who want to hold events, everything from a family reunion or birthday party to a full moon circle or holistic ceremony. This space represents inclusion — not only of people, but of their traditions and history. We want to celebrate that.”