3 Best Sights in Shenandoah National Park, Central and Western Virginia

Shenandoah National Park

Fodor's choice

Though Shenandoah National Park is only a narrow ribbon on the map, stretching 70 miles along the Blue Ridge but rarely more than 5 miles wide, it is easy to imagine being much deeper in the wilderness as you travel through it or spend a night camping here. Steep wooded ridges with rocky slopes stand out in the foreground of vistas taking in the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont to the east. Skyline Drive traverses the park end to end, from Waynesboro to Front Royal, and is the most common way to see the park. But hikers can find beautiful terrain just yards from the drive on some of the park's 500 miles of trails; trout fishers may wade into more than 25 streams, and riders can rent horses for wilderness trail rides. Those who want to know more about the area's flora and fauna may want to take a guided hike, which naturalists lead daily throughout the season. The seasonal activities of the park are outlined in the Shenandoah Overlook, a free newspaper you can pick up on entering the park or on the park's website.

Luray, VA, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $20 car; $10 walk-up or bike; $15 motorcycle, Several free days during year

Skyline Drive

Fodor's choice

Alternating between wide-open vistas and forest-hemmed stretches, Skyline Drive offers 105 miles of easily accessible wilderness. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the winding two-lane scenic byway runs from Front Royal in the north to Waynesboro in the south. On weekends and holidays, in particular, a 35-mph speed limit, rubber-necking leaf-lookers, small overlook pull-offs, and the occasional black bear sighting can cause cars to inch along Skyline Drive. It's best to choose a weekday and give yourself a full day to explore; you may want to spend an hour or two simply savoring the views from a roadside boulder.

Luray Caverns

Not only is this the largest cavern in the state, it also features the world's only "stalacpipe organ," composed of stalactites (calcite formations hanging from the ceilings of the caverns) that have been tuned to concert pitch and are tapped to create an echo. The organ is played electronically for every tour and may be played manually on special occasions. A one-hour tour begins every 20 minutes. Beyond the organ, Luray Caverns holds plenty of natural beauty, like the Dream Lake that perfectly mirrors back the stalactite formations. It's an easy addition to Skyline Drive, just 9 miles west on U.S. 211.

101 Cave Hill Rd., Luray, VA, 22835, USA
Sights Details
Rate Includes: $26, Mid-Mar.–mid-June, daily 9–6; mid-June–Labor Day, daily 9–7; Labor Day–Oct., daily 9–6; Nov.–mid-Mar., weekdays 9–4, weekends 9–5

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