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The Shenandoah Valley is a nature lover’s paradise. With 500 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, overlooks, and various outdoor excursions, the Valley is a natural playground at your service:

Rebel’s Run in Afton combines two enjoyable activities—wine tasting and horseback riding. Saddle up one of Rebel’s Run’s beautiful horses, and take a fun, leisurely 30-40 minute trail ride, ending with a wine tasting at Afton Mountain Vineyards. These horses are award-winning, well-trained mounts, so even if you’re not an experience rider, you’ll feel completely at ease in the saddle. Once you’ve blazed the Valley trail from astride your horse, you can celebrate a successful journey with a glass or two of local wine, toasting your equine adventure.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive possess scenic views that will make you feel on top of the world. At Milepost 11.0 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, there is a stunning overlook known as Ravens Roost, where you can rest and gaze out at the Shenandoah Valley and at Torrey Ridge. You’ll feel an affinity with the commonplace ravens and buzzards that circle overhead, as you’re able to look down and see the aerial view that they, too, enjoy from the skies. If you’re feeling adventurous, at the base of the ridge you can explore the ruins of Mt. Torrey Furnace, an iron structure that was in use until the late 1800s. If you’re looking for a breathtaking view of the sunrise or sunset, a romantic setting for a proposal, or simply a place to get away for a bit, you won’t want to miss Ravens Roost.

If your legs are feeling strong, and you love the sights and sounds of a waterfall, then you’ll want to give Crabtree Falls a try. Named after the man who settled the area in 1777, Crabtree Falls is located in George Washington National Forest, and is known as the highest cascading set of falls east of the Mississippi. The hiking trail is around four-mile in length (two miles up and two miles back), comprised of neatly-kept paths and breathtaking scenery with an overlook at the top where you can peer down at the Tye River Valley. You’ll feel like a true adventurer as you trek these trails with the rush of a 1,200-foot series of waterfalls to accompany you.

It’s one thing to enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley from the ground by means of running, hiking, biking, and driving. It’s a completely different thing to explore it from the air, which you can do with Monticello Country Ballooning in Charlottesville. With the sun on your face and the heat from the balloon above, it’s a wonderfully warm ride, even in winter. Ending with a sunset champagne toast makes the day a truly memorable experience.

There is nothing quite as relaxing as drifting down the river on a warm, sunny day…unless it’s fishing while drifting! Float fishing Waynesboro’s South River is a fantastic way to view the Valley, de-stress, and take a brief rest from the chaos of the “real world.” The South River Fly Shop offers a couple of different float fishing options. Spend either a half-day of a full day on the South River or a full day trip on the Shenandoah, James, or Jackson River. Full day trips even include lunch, equipment and files. On your floating adventure, you can catch everything from bass to trout to catfish while taking in the riverside beauty of Virginia.

Not only is Grand Caverns a National Natural Landmark located in Grottoes, Virginia, but it is also America’s oldest show cave. Descend on a tour into this underground wonder with its series of naturally formed rooms and chambers—the Grand Ball Room, Dante’s Inferno, the Persian Palace, and more. Each room and hall has its own story with subtle signs of times and people of the past. Read the names of Civil War signatures inscribed on the cavern walls, and marvel at the utter darkness as your guide momentarily flicks off his or her flashlight. Be sure to bring a jacket, as this historic treasure remains around 54° in temperature.

On a hot, summer day when the air is unbearably thick with humidity, you’ll be looking for a place to cool off, and Sherando Lake is your perfect solution. “Known locally as the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Sherando’s lower lake is a beautiful retreat, encircled by a sand beach and allowing for sunbathing, swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking (fs.usda.gov). For those who wish to fish, there are also small, secluded areas all around the lake where you can set-up your essentials, kick back, and relax in peace and quiet. If you’re looking for a hike, Sherando Lake offers that as well, with trails for all levels of experience. There’s no better place to delve into the natural world than at Sherando Lake.

You may be looking for a water activity that’s a bit more active than fishing, and if that’s the case, then give James River Reeling and Rafting a go. Stretch out those arm muscles, and slip into a canoe, raft, kayak, or tube, and paddle your way down the James River. No matter your experience as a river rider, James River Reeling and Rafting offers a tour to accompany your level of comfort. For beginners, consider a 4-mile trip from Hatton Ferry to Scottsville. Intermediate rafters will enjoy a 7-mile tour from Warren to Scottsville, while advanced participants can enjoy a 12-mile journey from Howardsville to Scottsville. Be sure to call before arriving for your tour to make sure that river and weather conditions are good.

Wherever you journey outdoors in this area, you’ll be met with unforgettable sights and sounds. Catch a glimpse of a bear in spring or summer in Shenandoah National Park, hawks migrating through Rockfish Gap in late fall, and deer, foxes, and birds through every season of the year. Pick up an audio driving tour on CD at the Inn before you begin your journey—it’s like having a tour guide right at your side throughout your adventure.

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