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.
Art exhibition at Bowman Shannon Cultural Arts Center in Mt. Jackson, Va.
The Art Group Gallery, 5998 Main St. Abstraction, Dynamic Works of Art, by Carol Williams. Featuring Ceramics by Kay Ely-Pierce. Runs through Oct. 31. For more information call 540-477-4131 or visit www.theartgroup.org.
Art exhibition opening reception at Mary Baldwin College
Hunt Gallery, Lyda B. Hunt Dining Hall, 218 Hunt Drive. Diego Sanchez: Recent Work. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, call 540-887-7196.
Art show at Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood, Va.
15 Tannery Lane. Bi-annual show sponsored by Clarke County Historical Association. Oover 300 artists from around the region and over 1000 works of art for sale. 25th Anniversary. Runs through Oct. 18. Monday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday frrom 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch available at nearby Locke Modern Country Store or picnic in a meadow. Admission: Adults, $5. Seniors $3. Ages 12 and under, free admission. Free Admission Day Oct. 10. For more information, call 540-955-2600 or visit www.clarkehistory.org/art-at-the-mill.html.
Shenandoah National Park flood-related closings
Shenandoah National Park has closed the Whiteoak Canyon area trails and parking area due to recent flooding: Whiteoak Canyon parking lot off of Berry Hollow road, route 600, and the Whiteoak Canyon and Cedar Run trails. TClosed until further notice. All hikers should generally be extra careful on the trails. Check for weather updates on the SNP Facebook page, Twitter feeds or at www.nps.gov/shen.