The Shenandoah Valley is located in the western part of Virginia and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. The region is best known for its natural beauty and Civil War history.
The Shenandoah Valley is formed by two mountain ranges, the Blue Ridge on the east and the Appalachian on the west. Another mountain ridge, the Massanutten, runs down the middle, as does the Shenandoah River. The Shenandoah Valley is believed to have been named by a lost Native American tribe. The meaning of the name is disputed, but the most popular interpretation is “daughter of the stars”.
Intrepid Englishmen began to explore and settle the valley in the early 18th century. Germans and Scots-Irish first entered the valley from the north in the 1730s. A young George Washington worked in the area as a surveyor for Lord Fairfax. Locals such as Daniel Morgan, Peter Muhlenberg, and George Rogers Clark distinguished themselves during the war of Independence.
During the Civil War, the Shenandoah Valley was the site of many battles, primarily because the region’s moniker, “the breadbasket of the Confederacy”. If Union troops could control the valley, they would cut off a large portion of the Confederate troops’ rations. The city of Winchester, at the northern end of the valley, traded hands over eighty times during the war. The most important battle fought in the region was the Battle of New Market.
Most residents of the Shenandoah Valley speak only English. There is a local dialect to the valley. It ranges from an Appalachian (apple-ATCH-in) twang to a southern drawl.
Interstate 66 from D.C.
Interstate 64 West from Richmond, East from West Virginia
Luray Caverns Airport (W45) Is a small GA airport with no commercial flights. Free courtesy transportation is provided to and from Luray Caverns, Caverns Country Club and affiliated attractions, restaurants and motels, all located one mile from the airport. Rental cars can be arranged in advance.
A car is essential for touring the region.
Interstate 81 runs the length of the valley
Skyline Drive, one of the most scenic routes in the country, is located in Shenandoah National Park.
Shenandoah National Park runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains from the town of Front Royal to the Waynesboro area. Skyline Drive, the main route through the park, is busiest in autumn due to the colorful foliage.
Luray Caverns, Luray, Virginia. The wealth of limestone in the Shenandoah Valley has created many caverns, Luray being the most famous. Along with various stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations named after gods and goddesses, the cavern boasts an organ that taps stalactites to produce different notes.
New Market Battlefield, New Market, Virginia. The site of a famous Civil War battle, in which the young cadets of VMI marched for four days to challenge and defeat Union troops moving down the valley. A state park, two museums, and a yearly reenactment bring their story to life.
Natural Bridge, Natural Bridge, Virginia. Worshipped by the Monacan Indians, owned by Thomas Jefferson, and defaced by a young George Washington, this limestone arch is a natural wonder and historic site rolled into one.
Winchester. This great old town is the first colonial town in the Valley. It has a wonderful historic district with a nice pedestrian mall. The town is full of excellent restaurants, shops and museums. There is one very old inn downtown with a pineapple sign hanging on the porch, plus there is the recently restored George Washington Hotel. George Washington spend much of his time in Winchester. The town was important during the French and Indian War, the Revolution, and the Civil War. Winchester was also home to Country Music Legend, Patsy Cline.
Shenandoah National Park provides many opportunities for hiking (including a portion of the Appalachian Trail), fishing, and horseback riding.
Shenandoah River, Front Royal, Virginia. The quirky town at the northern end of Shenandoah National Park has been dubbed the “canoe capital of Virginia”.
Apple Blossom Festival, Winchester, Virginia. Held each spring, this festival includes carnivals, pageants, parades, and a circus as part of the celebrations.
Jefferson Pools, Warm Springs, Virginia. Named after early visitor Thomas Jefferson, these 98 degree hot springs offer year-round soaking in two historic bath houses.
Route 11 Potato Chips, Middletown. Slightly pricey but delicious chips, which come in a variety of flavors.
Shenandoah Valley Apples Though many of the valley's orchards have shut down, you can still find excellent apple cider, apple sauce, and fresh, crunchy apples in Autumn. White House Foods, based in Winchester, processes many of these products.
Oasis Winery, Hume. One of the top rated wineries in Virginia, though service and ambiance have declined in recent years due to increase in popularity.
Daily Grind, Winchester. The national franchise's original coffee house, located on the Old Town walking mall.