The Charlottesville, Staunton, and Harrisonburg, VA areas are outstanding areas to enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage of the season. In many cases, one need only open the drapes and look outside. But for those of you who require mobility to enjoy the fall sites, here are three alternatives: two by automobile and a third by train.
The Skyline Drive
The Skyline Drive is a gorgeous 105-mile drive, north to south, along the Blue Ridge Mountains through the Shenandoah National Park.
The Front Royal, VA is considered the beginning of the Skyline Drive’s route and can be accessed for a fee of $10 per car at:
Rt. 340 and Rt. 55
Skyline Drive Mile Post 0.6
Front Royal, VA 22630
Park information indicates that it takes about 3 hours to drive the length of the park. There are scenic areas to pull off the road, picnic, and admire the view.
Pack a picnic lunch, a blanket, binoculars and a camera to record the view.
The Amtrak “Hop”
The Amtrak “51 Cardinal” happens to run occasionally but regularly through Staunton and up Afton Mountain to Charlottesville. You’ll need a friend to meet you or a rental car when you depart the train for a ride home or plan on spending two nights waiting for it to loop back through.
One-way ticket prices for adults (16 and older) run $11 per person and children (ages 2 to 15) at $5.50 each. A Friday afternoon trip leaves Staunton at 1:31 PM and arrives in Charlottesville a little over an hour later at 2:47 PM. The train runs every other day, thus the need for alternative transportation or accommodations once you arrive. Call 1-800-USA-RAIL for more information.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
This famous scenic drive begins in Waynesboro, VA at the end of the Skyline Drive. The Parkway meanders south through Virginia into North Carolina. A day trip south from Waynesboro, VA is limited only by your stamina and how early you get started. There is no entrance fee to access the Parkway and there are frequent exits with nearby and well-know restaurants, tourist sights, and vineyards. A nice trip would be from Waynesboro south to Roanoke and the city’s infamous “star” located atop Mill Mountain. After a lunch in downtown Roanoke, you can return north enjoying yet more foliage.