It is no secret that much of the scenic allure of the Shenandoah Valley has to do with how its landscape and environment changes are so dramatically visual from season to season – but most so whenever Autumn arrives.
As days get shorter and cooler, you can always count on seeing more and more out-of-state plates on scenic byways and up on Skyline Drive, the world-famous Shenandoah National Park highway that meanders for miles and miles among spectacular Valley vistas and Blue Ridge Mountain peaks.
In fact, about 23 percent of the yearly number of Shenandoah National Park visitors arrive during the month of October, the same month that the annual fall foliage colors tend to be the brightest.
A portion of Skyline Drive traffic comes from the nearby Washington, D.C. - Baltimore area. And as increasing numbers of cars, motorcycles, campers, bicycles and joggers converge on a two-lane, limited access ribbon of winding road with a 35 m.p.h. speed limit, city escapees can often find themselves in the middle of the one thing they were trying to get away from back home: gridlock!
Autumn traffic congestion does exist on peak foliage days, but with a little bit of planning it's also something that can be avoided. First and foremost: Avoid the weekend crowds and plan to come during the week.
Then try heading in a direction from south to north on Skyline drive, instead of entering via the northernmost gateway, just off I-66 at Front Royal, Va.
Virginia's scenic Shenandoah Valley is a great place to visit during any season, but Autumn is extra special. World renown mountaintop vistas, countless Valley backroads with a myriad of visual experices. It's also a time for flavorful festivals, thrilling live performances and inspiring living history ... all set against a flaming backdrop of Fall colors and natural beauty.
Lexington Wednesday Farmers Market in Lexington, Va.
McClure Parking Lot behind Southern Inn. Every Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Locally-produced seasonal produce, plants, eggs, meats baked goods, coffee and handcrafted goods using natural materials from local farms. For more information, call 540-463-9234.
Theater performance at Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Va.
10 S. Market St. Shakespeare`s Joan of Arc (Henry VI, Part 1). For more information, call 1-877-682-4236 or visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com.
Art exhibition at Bridgewater College
Cleo Driver Miller Art Gallery. Harrisonburg, Va. artist Ashley Sauder Miller paintings. Open through Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 11 p.m. on Sunday. Free admission, open to the public.
Theater performance at Mary Baldwin College
Fletcher Collins Theatre, Deming Fine Arts Center, By Oscar Wilde. Oct 7 through Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets: $12 for adults, $7 for students and senior citizens. For more information, call 540-887-7189 or visit www.mbc.edu.
Art exhibition at OASIS Gallery in Harrisonburg, Va.
103 S. Main StSnuggle Up. Pat Hoover: Hand-woven wraps, shawls and snugs. Continues through Oct. 31. For more information, call 540-828-4640 or visit www.oasisfineartandcraft.org.
Art exhibition reception at Washington and Lee University
Kamen Gallery. Patrick Hinely art exhibit: Photographs for Washington and Lee Calendars. The work of University Photographer Patrick Hinely has been featured on the Washington and Lee engagement calendar for more than 30 years.
Garden Walkabout program at Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Va.
901 Amherst St. Meet at the garden entrance. Guided garden tour with MSV Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes. Includes moderate walking, dress for the weather. Weather permitting. Free admission on Wednesday. For more information, call 540-662-1473 or visit www.theMSV.org.