15 Sep 2016 06.54.26 PM
Shenandoah National Park, located a mere 75 miles away from Washington D.C., is an amazing place to come explore and recharge and view the glorious colors of the park. The park is sunny and spectacular during the summer months though it can get hot, with temperatures occasionally getting as high as 100 degrees. In the spring, waterfalls are at their fullest, and wildflowers dot the sides of the roads, while during winter, the views are unparalleled, the bare trees letting you see for miles and miles. Shenandoah National Park is breathtaking to behold year round. However, nothing compares to its stunning Fall colors! For the best views of the colorful fall foliage, come after Columbus Day. The leaves start changing colors in late September, while peak color begins at the highest elevations in mid-October.
Best place to see fall colors
Shenandoah National Park’s lush greenery turns into a gorgeous display of bright Autumn hues as the Fall months approach. Dramatic yellows, burnt oranges and deep reds strike the eye and bring a sense of warmth and peacefulness. From brown to orange to gold, the leaves change color in a brilliant display of Fall’s beauty. Hickory and Maple trees are splashed with vibrant hues as if wet paint had been dripped across their leaves. To see all the gorgeous colors, take a drive through Skyline Drive or kayak down the Shenandoah River.
Skyline Drive is the only road that goes directly through Shenandoah National Park. This peaceful, relaxing drive offers spectacular views of the entire park and runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park has four different entrance/exit locations. The first is Front Royal via I-66 or Route 340. Next is Thornton Gap via Route 211, Swift Run Gap via Route 33 and finally, Rockfish Gap via I-64 and Route 250. With a speed limit of 35 mph, Shenandoah National Park invites you to roll down your windows and let in the crisp Fall air. This drive contains over 75 different overlooks, each of them offering a breathtaking view of Shenandoah National Park from different heights and angles. Visitors will also be dazzled by vibrant colors of wildflowers along the drive, as the roadsides are left unmowed to preserve the flowers’ natural beauty. You can also spot plenty of wildlife along this drive like deer, wild turkey, black bear and more. For those wanting to drive the entire length of the park, the trip takes about 3 hours.
Range View Overlook
A stunning overlook along Skyline Drive, Range View Overlook is located at mile 17.1. Here, visitors are invited to gaze down the expansive length of the Blue Ridge to Stony Man Mountain. The spectacular view of deep greenery and soft, rolling mountain ranges extend all the way from Jenkins Mountains to Gimlet Ridge, Alleghenies, Massanutten Mountain, and further.
At mile 20.8, Hogback Overlook allows visitors a phenomenal view that stretches beyond Shenandoah National Park, farther than the eye can see. From here, you can view the faraway ridges of Massanutten Mountain and the Shenandoah River as well as Mathews Arm, Gimlet Ridge and Overall Run’s wide valley.
Spitler Knoll Overlook
Spitler Knoll Overlook is located at mile 48.1 where Skyline Drive has a long, arching curve that gives way to this astonishing viewpoint. Behold sites like Page Valley, Blackrock Mountain, and gaze upon the small town of Stanley far below.
Big Run Overlook
An incredible view, Big Run Overlook gazes directly down upon the Big Run valley, one of the most scenic locations at Shenandoah National Park. You’ll find an unparalleled view of Brown Mountain and Rocky Mountain, with Rocky Top Ridge to one side. On a clear and sunny day, you may even be able to spot the quartz outcrops on Rocky Mountain.
Crimora Lake Overlook
Here at mile 92.6, you’ll find an unforgettable view of Crimora Lake and the beautiful scenery surrounding it. This lake was once heavily mined for manganese - there was more drawn from this area than any other mine in the country. The lake is framed by Turk Mountain to one side with Rocks Mountains on the other. This is also a good place to spot Wildcat Mountain.
Where to stay when visiting Shenandoah in the Fall
There are over a dozen different accommodations you can choose from when staying in Shenandoah National Park.
For a historic experience, visitors can stay at the Lewis Mountain Cabins. The cabins are fully furnished and have heat, electricity and a charcoal fire ring outside for late night dinners beneath the stars. The Shenandoah River Cabins also offer a spectacular experience, as each home comes with a covered patio, picnic table and bear proof storage unit.
Nearby Big Meadows Lodge is another way to get in touch with the natural beauty of Shenandoah National Park. The paneling inside the building is made from oak and chestnut. And the views are incomparable! For more excellent views, stay at Skyland Resort, located at the top of the famous Skyline Drive. There’s also the Quality Inn Skyline Drive, just an hour away from Washington D.C.
Luxury Accommodations For a unique experience stay at the Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia. This inn is filled with “Vintage Southern charm” and colonial decor, offering fine dining, gift area, lobby bar, fitness center, a spa and a seasonal outdoor pool.
Filled with spectacular beauty, Shenandoah National Park is the perfect place to view the vibrant, distinctive beauty of fall. Come hike to stunning waterfalls and take an incredible journey down Skyline Drive. This is a trip you will never forget! Shenandoah in the Fall!