Adventuring through the Shenandoah Valley is a sweet summertime reprieve. Mountains rise east and west as rolling fields and backroads lead to gems tucked into hidden, quiet places. Wildflowers dance on the warm breeze, streams and rivers sing a serene lullaby, and wildlife nap in the midday shade. Soak it all in as you make your way to these seven amazing things to see. They’re worthy of your big camera and then, your undivided attention. And bring the kids; they’ll love these, too.
1. The Great Stalacpipe Organ at Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
Luray Caverns is impressive on its own as the largest caverns in the eastern United States, but when you add the world’s only stalacpipe organ, forget it. You won’t see anything else like it. Comprising more than three acres of caverns, the organ is the largest musical instrument in the world as it gently taps out a tune on actual stalactites.
2. The Natural Bridge at Natural Bridge State Park | Natural Bridge, VA
If you’re unsure how high 215 feet is, plan to see the limestone arch that soars to that height. Looming large over Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek Trail, the Natural Bridge is a natural wonder – once called one of the Seven Wonders of the World – and it’s simply breathtaking. Walk the trail to appreciate the view from either side and all the other tucked away surprises that lie beyond.
3. Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail | Waynesboro, VA
What was once the world’s largest train tunnel is now open to the public! A 4,200-foot puncture through the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Blue Ridge Tunnel was constructed between 1850 and 1858. Unlit, you’ll want to bring a flashlight or headlamp to make your way through. The trail is 2.25 miles long with parking available on either side of the tunnel.
4. Overall Run Falls in Shenandoah National Park | Luray, VA
Waterfall hunters rejoice when they see the tallest fall in Shenandoah National Park. At 93 feet, it’s a lovely cascade after a good rain, but those who have trod the trail before you insist the views are the star of the show. Plan a good chunk of time to make the 5-mile out and back trek from Mathews Arm Campground (yellow blaze) or the Appalachian Trail (white blaze) from milepost 21 to the Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail (+1 mile).
5. Meems Bottom Covered Bridge | Mount Jackson, VA
One of Virginia’s most well-known covered bridges and its second oldest (ca. 1893) is Meems Bottom Covered Bridge in Shenandoah County. The Burr arch beauty is the longest in the Commonwealth at 204 feet and is a great example of “good bones.” Halloween tricksters burned the bridge in 1976 but the original timbers and stone abutments remained and were reinforced by new concrete piers and steel beams for the 1979 reopening.
6. Humpback Rocks on the Blue Ridge Parkway | Afton, VA
Just six miles from Rockfish Gap is the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and the blue blazed Humpback Rocks Trail leading to Humpback Rocks. (Whew! Say that three times fast.) It’s one mile and one rigorous 700-foot climb to reach Humpback Rocks, but the view is so worth it. If you fancy a picnic, a designated area is another 2.9 miles and a walk along a cliff away. Plan an hour for “the Rocks” and about four for the picnic. Depending on the length of your exploration, this could be an all day adventure for the books!
7. Marys Rock Tunnel on Skyline Drive | Luray, VA
What do you do when you’re trying to build a road and there’s a huge slope of granite in your way? You chip, chisel, and blast through until you have a tunnel. That’s what the Civilian Conservation Corps did in 1932 to create the 610-foot-long Marys Rock Tunnel on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Beware of the height restriction if you’re traveling in an RV, as clearance is 12 feet and 8 inches.
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