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Scenic Drives to Staunton

Situated at the intersection of interstates 81 and 64, Staunton always offers easy access. However, autumn days are perfect for more scenic drives, full of fall colors and vibrant culture. If you’re looking to take in all the Valley has to offer, check out one of these more leisurely alternatives.

If You’re Coming from the North, Try These Alternatives to I-81

Skyline Drive (Fees apply)

Travelers visiting  from Northern Virginia and all points north can travel through the Valley looking up at the Blue Ridge Mountains or along the ridge itself. Enjoy a leisurely ride (the maximum speed limit is 35 m.p.h.) along the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park for some of the most stunning views on the East Coast. Feeling hungry? The Skyline Drive offers wayside food stops every 25 miles. Access Skyline Drive from Front Royal, Thornton Gap,  or Swift Run Gap. Exit at Rockfish Gap. to descend into Staunton. Pick up Route 250 to wind your way through Waynesboro and Fishersville before reaching the Queen City.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

Route 11

If you want a route that allows you to admire the mountains from below and explore the unique history and culture of the Shenandoah Valley, try  Route 11, originally part of a colonial trail that parallels 1-81. This road stretches from New York to Louisiana! In the section north of Staunton, you’ll explore Strasburg, Mt. Jackson, New Market, and Harrisonburg.

Points of Interest Include:

If You’re Coming from the West

Rt. 250/Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike

From the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia, head east to Staunton, taking in the beautiful views of the Monongahela National Forest as you ride along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. When you enter Virginia, you’re treated to sweet switchbacks and turns. Perhaps a motorcycle is the most thrilling mode of transportation for this fun scenic drive.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

Route 220

Driving through the beautiful mountains of western Virginia via Route 220 satisfies the soul on many levels, but when such a drive includes beautiful points of interest, well, you may want to take it again and again and again.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Falling Springs waterfall is an 80′ cascade that can be seen from the road.
  • Southern gem, The Omni Homestead Resort, is a beautiful photo op you can’t pass up.

If You’re Coming from the East, Try This Alternative to I-64

Route 250/Richmond Road

While I-64 is the straightest route to Staunton from Richmond and points beyond, it travels through mainly forested land that borders the highway and limits the sight lines. Route 250 is a more leisurely route that will take you through the town centers of Charlottesville, Ivy, Crozet, and Waynesboro, but will also give you access to more unique scenery. 

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Hike or ride your bike along the Saunders-Monticello Trail, which winds through Kemper Park and connects Monticello with the local community south of Charlottesville. The arboretum of native trees and shrubs is a prime spot for leaf peeping.
  • Tour family-owned King Family Vineyards in Crozet for some show-stopping wine and views of the mountains.
  • Chiles Peach Orchard has apples and pumpkins to buy or pick in the autumn. You can also visit the tasting room to sample Bold Rock Cider or Prince Michel wines, both made with fruit grown on the orchard.
  • Visitors are welcome at the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch on Afton Mountain, where, in the fall, several hundred migrating raptors can be seen every day.

If You’re Coming from the South, Try These Alternatives to I-81

Route 11

The stretch of Route 11 that meanders through the Valley south of Staunton is full of natural beauty and opportunities to explore several picturesque small towns. You’ll drive through Roanoke, Natural Bridge, and Lexington. The Blue Ridge will parallel you on the right and the Allegheny Mountains can be viewed on the left.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Hike Bottom Creek Gorge in Shawsville. This 3.7-mile hike features a number of small waterfalls as well as an old cemetery and the remnants of historic buildings.
  • For some leg stretching and a fantastic view of downtown Roanoke, climb to the Mill Mountain Star, which is “the largest free-standing, man-made, illuminated star in the world”!
  • Natural Bridge was formed by a collapsing cavern and owned by Thomas Jefferson. It’s now a state park with trails, caverns and a wax museum nearby.
  • Admire the views and the Virginia brew at Great Valley Farm Brewery.
  • Tour the campuses and museums at Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, both historic landmarks located in Lexington.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkways winds through North Carolina and Virginia. Download the Blue Ridge Pkwy Travel Planner app for lots of offline information about overlooks and trailheads. At the Parkway’s northern terminus, pick up Route 250 to head west toward Staunton.

Points of Interest Along the Way:

  • Roanoke County’s Explore Park offers camping, hiking, river frontage, disc golf, and horseback riding. You’ll also find a Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor’s Center
  • Visit the tasting room at family-friendly Peaks of Otter Winery for some wine and gifts. The kids will enjoy exploring the farm and meeting the animals.
  • Crabtree Falls is on Route 56 in Tyro, just below the parkway. You can climb along the falls all they way to the top, or simply follow the paved trail to the lower falls if you don’t have time to hike farther up.
  • Humpback Rocks is a short, steep hike to a rock outcropping that offers amazing views of the Blue Ridge Valley. An interpretive farm at the trailhead offers area history.