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RetiredVermonter Mar 18th, 2009 02:16 AM

Route 81 through Virginia
We plan to drive from New York state to visit family in northern Georgia after Easter (mid April), mostly on Route 81.

How is the drive? Mountainous? Scenic?

Is traffic apt to be bad, good or moderate?

We're also looking for nice B&B's around Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and Natural Bridge, Virginia. Any suggestions?


fourfortravel Mar 18th, 2009 03:35 AM

We've stayed at Osceola Mills B&B and thought it quite lovely, and very reasonable in price. We also ate at their restaurant (husband runs the B&B; wife is the chef) and thought the food was very good. The B&B is about a half hour from Natural Bridge, but it's an easy drive.

emalloy Mar 18th, 2009 04:01 AM

The ride on 81 through VA isn't bad. Where there are up-grades there is a climbing lane for slow vehicles and I wouldn't call it mountainous. There are some pretty places along the way. The traffic usually tends to be heavier in the PA section than in VA. It is a much more pleasant way to go south than 95. The last time we went to FL we used 81 and it was speed limit all the way to 77,

obxgirl Mar 18th, 2009 06:07 AM

This was discussed recently:

I definitely agree with the comments about the heavy truck traffic.

RetiredVermonter Mar 18th, 2009 06:40 AM

The trucks scare us a bit, of course, because we were just creamed -- literally -- by a logging truck. on a local highway here, and we still have phobias about trucks on the highway with us!

We were in the right hand lane, going up a grade, and he pulled up next to us, as if to pass, but then decided he could not or would not, so he started to fall back (as if to pull behind us) but, instead, he suddenly veered over INTO us, toward the back of our car, sending us spinning around, across the highway, like bumper cars, all the way to the center median, where we ended up lying on our left side there!

Our car was totaled, but we somehow escaped with few injuries. (We figure was watching over a lot of us. It was only an hour before the plane went into the Hudson!)

It was scary and we still shudder when a big truck is near us, as you can imagine, so now I wonder if it's a mistake to try the Rte 81 trip at all.

schlegal1 Mar 18th, 2009 06:54 AM

Not to scare you but if you are afraid of eighteen-wheelers then 81 is probably a bad choice. The truck traffic is, indeed, heavy. I don't think it's that scenic a drive but then, I drive it and I-64 so often perhaps I am a bit immune to the beauty.

Gretchen Mar 19th, 2009 04:39 AM

I think truck traffic on interstates is just going to happen. I agree that through VA is easier than PA, but the traffic moves well. It is certainly better than I95!

emalloy Mar 19th, 2009 04:56 AM

If you really fear trucks, you could take 340 to 11 and wind your way down the valley through VA. It would be much slower, with stops in towns, but less stressful overall. You would be going through some pretty countryside but be prepared for a longer trip.

Ackislander Mar 19th, 2009 05:16 AM

Well, 81 is MUCH better than -95/I-85 in my considerable experience, but the general quality of truck drivers has fallen off a great deal in recent years. On the other hand, the quality of ALL drivers seems to have fallen off a lot during recent years.

One side benefit of the current economic mess is that there are fewer, sometimes many fewer trucks on the road since many fewer goods are being shipped.

Ackislander Mar 19th, 2009 05:20 AM

Forgot to say it is a pretty route, and you can find excellent small town food if you get off the highway along the way.

Leaves won't be out on the upper reaches of the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway yet, but it makes a pleasant if slow change from the interstate as does US 11, as recommended by emalloy. Staunton and Lexington, VA are also well worth detours.

Thomas6 Mar 19th, 2009 06:00 AM

I don't know a B&B in Natural Bridge but Lexington, VA is close by and there is a nice B&B, Stoneridge, just outside of Lexington that I can recommend. The Sugar Tree Inn is little bigger and a little further away from Lexington into the woods, but it is also a nice stay. Both places offer dinners and Lexington has several decent restaurants.

ronkala Mar 19th, 2009 02:27 PM

Don't let the truck traffic on 81 scare you. The trucks do bunch up along the way, but with patience, they are eventually left behind. The scenic part of 81 starts south of Winchester in the Toms Brook/Woodstock area where the mountain views are viewed on both sides of the highway and make it an enjoyable drive.

True, route 11 is a scenic drive through small towns and cities, but it is time consuming. The speed limit drops to 25-35 mph oin these areas.

RedRock Mar 19th, 2009 03:17 PM

On any Interstate you will always find bunches of 18 wheelers. We stopped driving the Interstates years ago. We just take our time and drive the older highways thru the smaller towns. We are not worried about the big trucks but just get tired of seeing them and little else.

rkkwan Mar 19th, 2009 05:08 PM

I-81 is indeed a heavy truck route, and what makes it different from other truck-heavy interstates is the terrain. Heavy trucks will slow down on the uphills, and they will speed up on the downhills (most of the slopes are not THAT steep that the trucks have to slow down).

The continuous speed change of the trucks can unnerve some motorists. You may pass one truck going up a slope only to see it back at your rear bumper a minute later when going down the hill.

The most important thing for a 4-wheeler to do is just to keep your speed. If you like to drive 65 (or 68 or 70 or whatever), <b>stick to your speed</b>. The truckers will know what to do when you drive a constant speed. But if also speed up and slow down too, that's when troubles develop.

rkkwan Mar 19th, 2009 05:10 PM

Or yeah, and <b>stay right unless you're passing</b>. And when you pass, do speed up and finish your pass quickly and go back to the right lane.

RetiredVermonter Mar 20th, 2009 01:59 AM

Thanks one and all for your comments!

We used to take I-95 from Connecticut to Florida every spring break, with our kids, and we also had a child who went to college in Virginia, so we got very used to I-95, I-295, the Garden State, NY Turnpike, and the BWP, through NYC, and on down through New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, and so on.

We once made the mistake early on of driving on the Garden State and NJ Turnpike on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (notoriously the absolute worst day of the year for traffic!), in the rain, and we remember sitting there, stopped at one toll, waiting for traffic to move to the NEXT toll!

If I-81 is "less bad" than I-95, I suspect we'll be fine, and it sounds like a prettier drive, too.

I'm also investigating B&B's, and Stone ridge looked appealing to us, too, by the way!

Thanks again! You folks are great!

emalloy Mar 20th, 2009 04:09 AM

If you are going to FL take 81 to 77 (which is south of Roanoke) then pick up 26 and take it back to 95 in South Carolina, past the icky part of 95. This took us the same amount of time that 95 did but was longer and less stressful.

RetiredVermonter Mar 20th, 2009 06:28 AM


Thanks, but we're headed for the Atlanta, GA area, so I-95 is way out of the way. Rte 81 will be better for this trip.

Thanks again, anyway.

charsuzan Mar 20th, 2009 07:36 AM

Lexington, VA would be a great place for a stop. Beautiful, historic town. Good places to eat.

colbeck Mar 20th, 2009 09:10 AM

We travel back and forth from Vermont to South Carolina twice a year and we always use Rt. 81. Yes, there are a lot of trucks, but we avoid I 95 around the DC area at all costs. From Wincester VA south it is very scenic and Lexington VA is a delightful, historic town. As you are going to northern Georgia, you might take 81 into Tennessee and branch off onto Rt. 26 through Johnson City, over the mountains and through Asheville NC - very pretty drive.If you have time, the Biltmore Estate is well worth a stop. Then pick up Rt. 25 to Greenville SC (another interesting town) where you can connect with I 85 south to Atlanta.

Another route we have taken when heading to Georgia is I 81 to I 40 to Knoxville TN, then I 75 south through Chattanooga, all the way to Atlanta. Another alternative, if you have time and would like to get off the highway, try branching off 75 north of Chattanooga at Sweetwater TN and head south on Rt. 68 through the Cherokee National Forest. This will bring you into scenic northern Georgia.

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