Each fall, Virginia’s leaves turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange and the Commonwealth becomes a popular destination for those who enjoy viewing the splendor of autumn foliage.
Here are 12 scenic drives in Virginia that offer beautiful fall foliage and other activities for visitors to enjoy:
● Nelson Scenic Loop: Traversing 50 miles along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Loop includes four Scenic Byways west of Charlottesville. Take a hike and have a picnic at Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi. Fish for mountain trout in a stocked pond at Montebello. Stay overnight in a cozy creekside cabin;
● Blue Ridge Parkway: Cruise along the Parkway this fall and celebrate 75 years of America’s favorite drive. Generations of visitors have made annual fall pilgrimages to the Parkway to view its natural splendor and beautiful views. Along the way are restaurants and stores, hiking trails and diverse overnight accommodations. Learn about the life of early mountain settlers and watch living-history demonstrations at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. Visit Mabry Mill, the most-photographed site on the Parkway. Join a nature hike led by friendly park rangers. Enjoy a dinner at Chateau Morrisette Winery. Watch luthiers crafting fiddles and mandolins at the Blue Ridge Music Center. Find more ideas on Virginia.org/brp;
● The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail winds through the mountains and valleys of Southwest Virginia, a major wellspring of American roots music and one of Virginia’s best regions for fall foliage. Country music traces its beginnings here and the area is still a hotbed of bluegrass and Old Time music. Live music venues, museums and cultural centers lie along the trail. Some of bluegrass music’s top acts perform at the Carter Family Fold, the Floyd Country Store and the Rex Theater in Galax and impromptu jam sessions pop up in barber shops and ice cream stands in small communities throughout the region;
● Skyline Drive: This roadway is the main artery of Shenandoah National Park and one of America’s best fall foliage destinations. The drive itself is a worthy journey but there is much more to enjoy along the route. Stay overnight at Skyland Lodge, Big Meadow or the rustic cabins at Lewis Mountain. At dusk, herds of deer come out to graze in meadows and along roadsides. The eastern black bear can be seen along with a large variety of songbirds;
● Virginia’s Wine Destinations: According to Virginia winemaker Luca Paschina, “A true wine experience is not only about wine … It’s about food … landscapes … visiting historic sites. It’s about other things that all together are a true great wine experience.” This particularly applies in the fall, according to Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia’s official tourism body. Virginia now boasts more than 150 wineries, many nestled along the hillsides of Virginia’s pastoral Piedmont region. The area is canopied in color during the fall and is filled with a variety of winemaking activities and celebrations. October is Virginia Wine Month and the wineries celebrate with festivals and special events. Try one of the following three drives for starters:
● Charlottesville area: The Monticello Wine Trail combines natural beauty with 22 of Virginia’s leading wineries. Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe made their homes here for a reason. The glory of the countryside in the fall is unmatched. Fine country inns and exceptional dining (some of which can be found at the wineries themselves) are an essential part of the experience;