Looking for some family fun this weekend? The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is offering a combination of activities kids this Saturday from 1-5pm, including carriage rides, poetry, dance, cloggers, and live music – sounds like fun!
MariAnne Woehrle sent in a great suggestion for a Thing To Do in the Shenandoah Valley: climb the Woodstock Tower. I hadn’t heard of it until she suggested it, so thanks for the tip!
The Forest Service website has some basic information:
Standing sentinel over the far flung northern ranges of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, this tower, located on one of the highest peaks of the Massanutten Range reveals, from its elevation of 2000 feet, an expansive panorama of Northern Virginia.
In every direction you can see forests, towns and mountain ranges, the seven bends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, and acres of national forest lands.
According to HikingUpward.com, “The hike up to Woodstock Tower is an easy 2.0 mile out/back walk suitable for most people, and the 360° panoramic view from the top of the tower is one of the best in the Massanutten range. The views west are of the north fork of the Shenandoah River, and to the east you look back through Woodstock Gap to the Shenandoah National Park.”
And, Michelle at VirginiaWind.com shares an account of a hike up to the top here:
When most people think of spectacular mountain views in Virginia, they immediately think of Skyline Drive. However, for those of us willing to take the road less traveled (and put in a little extra footwork), a view that rivals any you would see elsewhere in Virginia awaits you at Woodstock Tower, in the George Washington National Forest located in Woodstock, VA. Like most trips, the joy is more than the mere destination. It is the entire journey and the road to Woodstock Tower is no exception. [Full post]
There’s even a hang-glider launch point!
The fall weather brings to mind packing up a tent, some sleeping bags, and ingredients for s’mores – it’s camping time! With the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park, among other government and privately owned parks, the Shenandoah Valley has an awesome combination of places to go camping.
And below is a list of camping options from ShenandoahValleyWeb.com:
- Buckhorne Country Store & Campground–3508 Douthat Rd., Clifton Forge–540-862-4502
- Campground at Natural Bridge–St. Rte. 782, Natural Bridge Station–540-291-2727
- Camp Outback–6502 S. Page Valley Rd., Luray–540-743-4159
- Candy Hill Campground–165 Ward Ave., Winchester–540-662-8010
- Country Place Campground–100 Fort Liscomb Rd., Luray–540-743-4007
- Country Waye RV Resort–3402 Kimball Rd., Luray–540-743-2734
- Cove Campground–980 Cove Rd., Gore–540-858-2882
- Creekside Campground–108 Palmyra Rd., Edinburg–540-984-4299
- Dixie Caverns Camping–Exit 132, I-81, Salem–540-380-2085
- Fort Valley Horse & Mule Camp–299 S. Fort Valley Rd., Fort Valley–540-933-6634
- Front Royal RV Campground–Rt. 340 South, Front Royal–540-635-2741
- Glen Maury Park/Campground–10th St., Buena Vista–800-555-8845
- Harrisonburg/Shenandoah Valley KOA Campground–Exit 257, I-81, Broadway–540-896-8929
- Jellystone Park–2250 Hwy. 211 East, Luray–540-743-4002
- Lee Hi Campground–Rt. 11 N., Lexington–540-463-3478
- Lewis Mountain–Mile 57.5, Skyline Drive–800-999-4714
- Low Water Bridge Campground–192 Panhandle Rd., Bentonville–540-635-7277
- Misty Mountain Camp Resort–Rt. 250, Exit 107, I-64, Crozet–888-647-8900
- Montebello Camping & Fishing Resort–Rt. 56, Montebello–540-377-2650
- Natural Bridge KOA–Exit 180B South; Exit 180 North, Natural Bridge–540-291-2770
- Natural Chimneys–94 Natural Chimneys Lane, Mt. Solon–540-350-2510
- Outlanders River Camp–4253 US Highway 211 West, Luray–540 743-5540
- Riverside Camping–Rt. 340 N., Shenandoah–540-652-1919
- Shenandoah Valley Campground–Exit 227, I-81, Rt. 781, Verona–540-248-2267
- Swift Run Campground–Rt. 33 East, Elkton–540-298-8086
- Walnut Hills Campground–484 Walnut Hills Rd., Stuarts Draft–540-337-3920
- Waynesboro North 340 Campground–Rt. 340 N., Waynesboro–540-943-9573
Tickets can be purchased to see the bridge up close, and a number of other attractions have developed nearby, including a Toy Museum, Wax Museum, and the Cedar Creek Trail. In the evening, there is also the Drama of Creation, which features symphonic music in the ancient Blue Ridge Mountain walls and, choreographed lighting that creates a rainbow canopy in the stone archway.
Wikipedia has some interesting historic facts about this geologic wonder that can’t be seen just looking at it from afar:
- The Natural Bridge was a sacred site of the Native American Monacan tribe, who believed it to be the site of a major victory over pursuing Powhatans centuries before the arrival of whites in Virginia.
- Some believe George Washington came to the site in 1750 as a young surveyor on behalf of Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron.
- Thomas Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land including the Natural Bridge from King George III of England for 20 shillings in 1774. He called it “the most Sublime of nature’s works”. Jefferson built a two-room log cabin, with one room reserved for guests, beginning its use as a retreat.
See the official website for more information.
On its way from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail makes it way along the ridge in Shenandoah National Park, forming the eastern edge of the Shenandoah Valley.
Many who have hiked the trail say this “104 miles of well-graded and well-maintained Trail” is one the most beautiful stretches of its entire length. With climbs rarely exceeding 500 or 1,000 feet, the section is excellent for beginning hikers. The white blazes of the Trail can lead a hiker to a short hike, or one- or two-day circuit hikes.
Scared of snakes? This one isn’t for you. The Luray Zoo and Reptile Jungle is a privately owned rescued zoo, focused on educating the public and providing homes for unwanted, retired, and confiscated exotic animals. According to their website, the zoo is now home to over 250 animals, striped skunk, Bengal tiger, Andean condors, African crested porcupine and many more.
I posted about the carp feeding frenzy at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens earlier this week, but this activity is perhaps a bit more romantic: an evening, moonlit carriage ride through the woodland and botanical gardens. You can go tonight! See how they explain it the luxurious ride:
Carriage Rides in the Woodland Gardens of the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
For the cost of a movie, make a memory of a lifetime.
Not merely a carriage ride, but a twilight summer evening or moonlight carriage ride in a woodland garden setting! Create an occasion that goes beyond ordinary to surprising, even exceptional in the beauty of the EJC Arboretum, voted Harrisonburg and the region’s favorite place to relax, to bring out-of-town guests, and favorite place for marriage proposals.
In a luxurious vis-Ã -vis carriage, riders are drawn through the woods by beautiful Belgium horses and an experienced coachman. Your carriage ride celebration by moonlight Saturday, August 21st, 7-11:00 pm, can help make any whimsical or romantic dream come true. $10 for adults, $7 children 7 years and younger. Carriage seats six. Private carriage $58.
turnbugl [at] jmu.edu, 568-3194 to reserve.
There are many mountain biking opportunities on the mountain sides that enclose the Shenandoah Valley, as well as on Massanutten Mountain. Next Sunday, Sept 5, the 12th Annual Shenandoah Mountain 100 will take place, coordinated by Shenandoah Mountain Touring.
Virginia.org has an overview of mountain biking options here. The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition is the best resource for learning more about all the biking opportunities the area has to offer. You can also go into the bike shop in downtown Harrisonburg, Shenandoah Bicycle Company, as well as others in the area for terrific assistance in finding a trail that suits your experience.
On this SVBC trails webpage, there is an action-packed video showing the Ravine Trail on Massanutten Mountain. Check it out:
JMU maintains a jewel of flora at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, and I’ll post about the wonderful plants in the future. For today, I wanted to highlight a favorite activity for anyone who has spent $0.25 for a handful of pellets to throw into the water just below the footbridge over the stream feeding the pond: seeing massive carp emerge by the dozens to fight for the food!
It’s a fun activity for people of all ages. Head over to the arboretum, bring a quarter, and see the show! You’ll likely see one or two of the water turtles sunning themselves on a nearby stone.
Reddish Knob is the highest peak in this part of Virginia at 4,397 feet. It’s right on the border to West Virginia, and offers a panoramic view in all directions.
Anyone spending time in the Shenandoah Valley ought to take the time to drive, hike, or bike up to the top for the view from the “parking lot in the sky.”
Bring a picnic, and hold on tight so the wind doesn’t blow it away. Actually, just a couple miles down a gravel road from the peak is Shenandoah Mountain Picnic Area – perhaps better suited for a meal!