Shenandoah Valley Scenic Day Drives: Where to Find History and Beauty
With warm spring weather finally upon us, who isn’t itching to get outside and enjoy it? Guests of the Iris Inn, for sure! Our guests are always looking for beautiful drives that showcase the history and the beauty of the area.
That’s why we’ve mapped out a gorgeous loop drive that will delight and amaze you! This self-driving tour will start you a few miles from the Inn and then bring you right back to our door. Don’t forget to order a picnic lunch from the Inn before you leave!
Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum
There’s not a better way to begin your picturesque drive than with a visit to Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. Here you’ll not only find picnic areas and hiking trails, but you’ll also find the William J. Carter Farm.
Originally, a land grant tract to encourage pioneers to settle the Blue Ridge Mountain, it later became known as the William J. Carter Farm. The original structures are gone but have been replaced with other authentic structures that were moved from nearby areas. You could easily spend the better part of a day here if you wanted to!
At the Greenstone Overlook, get a breathtaking view of the valley below. Here you can see the southern end of the Lyndhurst/Stuarts Draft communities. Then it’s on to the short, “leg stretcher” nature trail, the Greenstone Trail.
The trail is an education about the Catoctin Greenstone lava flow, one of the largest lava flows on earth! Be sure and take trail entrance to the right so you can hike in a counterclockwise direction. (The trail signs were meant to be read from this direction.)
A perennial favorite, Raven’s Roost offers up a sweeping 180-degree view of the extreme northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll also see views of Torrey Ridge and the Shenandoah Valley to the west.
There’s also an overlook to a broad rock ledge where ravens often roost. Hence, the name. It’s also a popular location to rock climb and hand glide. Absolutely beautiful!
This was a popular stop each February for people mailing valentine cards until the post office closed in 1944. Now it’s a part of a relaxing, scenic drive.
This landmark got its name from farmers in the valley below. According to them, in June and July corn-chopping season, you watch the sun on the cliff to know when they had 20-minutes until sunset. It’s also the place to be to enjoy a panoramic vista while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
White Rock Falls
From 1916-1939, lumbermen harvested this forest. Two long swathes of timber which were clear cut along the ridge were called Big Slash and Little Slash. Somehow, locals began referring to the entire area as The Slacks.
Today, the area serves as a parking area for two hiking trails, the Slacks Trail and the White Rock Falls Trail. We recommend the waterfall hike. It’s 1.8 miles moderate round trip hike.
Big Spy Overlook
From the parking area, the Big Spy trail leads .1 mile to a bench in an open field with excellent views. This area is known as the War Fields because so many arrowheads were found in the topsoil. It also served as a lookout for Union sympathizers during the Civil War. To the right, you’ll see the rocky dome of Big Spy.
Now it’s time to head back to the Inn. Exit the Parkway at Tye River Gap—VA 56 to 606 Lyndhurst. Or, take Route 11 back to Highway 340. Either way, we want to hear about your day when you return!
Are you planning a visit to the Shenandoah Valley? Book your reservation with the Iris Inn. Or learn more about us on the web. We’ll help you plan out what to see and do. Just show up and enjoy your stay!