Known worldwide for its awe-inspiring caverns (and see separate feature this month), the town of Luray has also become known in recent years as a hub of outdoor recreation. The annual Luray Triathlon (Aug. 19-20, 2017) draws about 1,500 competitors. This September 2nd will see the inaugural Shenandoah Half Marathon. The race is planned to start at Hawksbill Park in Stanley and end at Lake Arrowhead in Luray—a spectacular, scenic route in the shadow of Shenandoah National Park. Cycling heats up, too as Canadians flock to town to start their training season, and weekenders come to ride miles of back roads virtually free of car traffic.
Here’s a quick look at what else is on the outdoor menu:
Horseback Riding—Let Jordan Hollow Stables guide you into the foothills of Shenandoah National Park, or go with Fort Valley Ranch into the heart of George Washington National Forest. New riders are welcome and the horses are surefooted and cooperative.
Canoeing—After renting canoes, kayaks and tubes for more than 40 years, the folks at Shenandoah River Outfitters know the river as well as anyone. Rent one of their cabins on the river and soak in a hot tub after a challenging day of paddling. For something a little more tame, Luray’s Lake Arrowhead offers swimming, paddling and fishing, starting May 27th.
Mud Running—The Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual event called the Blue Ridge Mountain Mudurance. This 5K mud run is scheduled for September 30th at Ralph Dean Recreation Park.
Hiking—The Thornton Gap entrance to Shenandoah National Park is about nine miles away. George Washington National Forest is about the same distance the other direction. While hundreds of miles of hiking trails await you there, Luray is also home to the Hawksbill Greenway, a paved, four-mile, multi-use trail that loosely follows Hawksbill Creek. A prettier walk would be hard to find.
Ziplining—Bear Mountain Ziplines is just outside town and ziplines (plus waterpark, bike park and a lot more) are a half hour away at Massanutten Resort.
Where to Stay?
The stately Mimslyn Inn expanded last year and now offers The Manor House and Cottage Collection.
The Hotel Laurance is a wonderful, recently finished restoration project on historic South Court Street.
Outside of town, the cabin options are diverse—about 200 such rentals earned the county’s designation as the Cabin Capital of Virginia. Some traditional favorites:
Allstar Lodging—offering multiple properties throughout the county
Brookside Cabins—minutes from Skyline Drive
The Country Place Lodging and Camping on the Shenandoah River—accommodates large groups, right on the river.
Crestview Cottage—Peace, tranquility and splendid views of mountains and valley, 2.5 miles outside downtown Luray
Shadow Mountain Escape—Romantic timber frame cabins on the edge of Shenandoah National Park
And of course, Shenandoah National Park Lodging options are just up Skyline Drive
Where to Wine and Dine?
Superb Virginia wine can be found at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard. Page County’s biggest industry is agriculture and many local farmers supply fresh produce and other products to local restaurants. The Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant at the Mimslyn, the just-opened Cooter’s in the Valley, Brookside Restaurant, and Gathering Grounds downtown are all favored by locals. For a special treat, dine high up on Skyline Drive at Pollock Dining Room, with a breathtaking view of the Valley.
Luray’s Festival of Spring is May 13th. The event brings about 5,000 people to Main Street to enjoy great local food and wine, hear live music, and shop at hundreds of booths offering art, crafts, clothing, jewelry, and a wealth of Virginia-made products.
Situated between Shenandoah National Park to the east, George Washington National Forest to the west, and with the storied Shenandoah River moments from Downtown, Luray’s scenic beauty rivals anything found in the Shenandoah Valley. When you get to town, make your first stop the Visitor Center at 18 Campbell St. (pictured above) a restored railroad depot with its own railroad museum.
For more help planning your visit, contact the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce.