Virginia’s Natural Beauty

Virginia’s Natural Beauty

The spectrum of color that makes up the fall foliage of Virginia reminds us of the beautiful state in which we live. While leaves are past their peak in color in the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge, Massanutten, and Allegheny Mountains, there remains ample opportunities to enjoy Mother Nature at her best with the range of colors that are present on the trees in our neighborhoods and in the lower elevations. Fall foliage viewing creates some traffic backups on the roads leading to the mountains—the need to drive slower just gives you more time to enjoy the trees on the fence lines in the rural areas and the seedpods of endless varieties that appear this time of the year throughout the countryside.

If you want to spend the night you are likely to have difficulty finding a place. All those people who last year found that they could not make a last-minute reservation for a place on the Skyline Drive made a reservation earlier this year. Now you can make a note to make a reservation months ahead for next year. Remember that from Northern Virginia the Shenandoah National Park is just a couple of hours away with entrances off Route 340 and 211. Meditate or hike for a few hours, and you can still be back home before dark. If you choose to go a shorter distance, consider Sky Meadows State Park off Route 7 west a little more than an hour. It has one of the best views of the Piedmont of Virginia, and it will be extra special with seasonal colors this time of year. Also about an hour away is the Shenandoah River State Park on Route 340 past Front Royal. It is located on the bends of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, and this is peak time for its fall foliage colors.

I have a special feeling for the Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive as I lived and worked at Skyline Lodge during two summers while I was in high school. The Park was the first National Park in the eastern part of the country, and its establishment meant the relocation of hundreds of families that had lived in the mountains for decades. Talk with any locals there, and you can hear the resentment felt by those who were made to leave the mountains as challenging as their life may have been there. The roads, trails, and beautiful roadside walls were built by Civilian Conservation Corp workers during the Great Depression. If you are going to the Park this time of year, go on weekdays if your schedule permits. If you plan to hike check in advance to see if tickets are required on the trails you’ve chosen.

Enjoying the natural beauty of the Commonwealth reminds us that we must adopt public policies that will ensure that the pleasures we enjoy today can be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren in the future. That sometimes means making laws and regulations to protect our environment and leave us with a healthy and beautiful Virginia.