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Central and Western Virginia Travel Guide

Car Travel

The many pleasant highways and routes that snake through western Virginia's rolling countryside make driving a particularly good way to travel. The region's interstates (I-64, I-81, and I-77) are remarkably scenic, but the same mountainous terrain that contributes to their beauty can also make them treacherous. Dense valley fog banks, mountain-shrouding clouds, and gusty ridge-top winds are concerns at any time of the year, and winter brings ice and snow conditions that can change dramatically in a few miles when the elevation changes.

Interstate 81 and U.S. 11 run north-south the length of the Shenandoah Valley and continue south into Tennessee. Interstate 66 west from Washington, D.C., which is 90 mi to the east, passes through Front Royal to meet I-81 and U.S. 11 at the northern end of the valley. Interstate 64 connects the same highways with Charlottesville, 30 mi to the east. Route 39 into Bath County connects with I-81 just north of Lexington. Interstate 77 cuts off the southwest tip of the state, running north-south and crossing I-81 at Wytheville. Interstate 77 crosses two major ridges and passes through two mountain tunnels in Virginia.

Travelers will rarely find bumper-to-bumper traffic jams in Charlottesville or any other city in the region. The major exception: autumn Saturdays when the University of Virginia has a home football game. Virginia Tech games can similarly snarl traffic in the Roanoke-New River valley area, including on I-81.

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