Gateway-to-Nature Vacation

Looking for a home-base from which to launch a nature-centered vacation? Waynesboro offers a combination of hiking, paddling, fishing, and outdoor relaxation, all a short and convenient drive from its small-town charm. Check out these eight can’t-miss nature experiences that begin at your Waynesboro doorstep.

(1) Chase Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park

A national treasure in its own right, the Shenandoah National Park invites visitors to sweeping mountain views, easy access to hiking trails, and an incredible density of waterfalls.

Looking On Dark Hollow Falls. NPS | Katy Cain

Every year, visitors arrive from all over the world to visit the Park, but you’ll find its entrance mere minutes from downtown Waynesboro. In between dipping your toes, don’t forget to check out their all-summer Ranger programming.

(2) Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway snakes along mountain ridges from the southernmost tip of the Shenandoah National Park to the Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Hiking opportunities abound, but those seeking adventure with less exertion won’t be disappointed with the breathtaking overlooks accessible by car or the stellar driving offered by ribbons of ridgetop pavement.  Bring your camera or sketchbook; these views are for sharing and remembering.

NPS | Mary O’Neill & N. Lewis

(3) Fly Fish an Urban Trout Fishery

What happens when the river, the fly shop, and the brewery are all one short walk from one another?  Regardless, we promise not to tell that fishing story!  For a local- and expert-led introduction to South River trout fishing, the South River Fly Shop offers full-service guiding and instruction.

(4) Picnic by the River

With a multi-use greenway, miles of water trail, and six parks that follow the South River waterway, you don’t need to leave town to enjoy nature. Spread out under the pavilion at Constitution Park, let your dog run free at Coyner Springs, or reserve the shelter at Ridgeview for by-the-river summertime grill outs.

Kayaking on the South River at Ridgeview Park. Photo by Pat Jarrett

Waynesboro’s many parks also offer convenient canoe and kayak launch points into the South River Water Trail. Turn your picnic into an opportunity to wade in the river or float away the afternoon.

(5) View the Night Sky

The official Night Sky Festival begins August 10th in Shenandoah National Park, but the clear Blue Ridge Mountain air offers sparkling skies all year long. Explore the Park’s Tips for Stargazing, become a Junior Ranger Night Explorer, or join any ranger-led astronomy events in the Blue Ridge mountains.

Stargazing at Big Meadows during the 2017 Night Sky Festival. NPS/Mary O’Neill

(6) Meet the Wildlife

Red-tailed hawks, black bears, barred owls, white tail fawns, bobcats, and eastern box turtles are just some of the creatures you may find inhabiting the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most are happy to share the trail with you, as their sightings are common from the Valley floor to the mountain ridge tops.

(7) Climb Above your stress

Let stress and worry fade to the valley floor below. This list of suggested hikes includes panoramic views, granite scrambles, and overhanging cliffs. From the Shenandoah National Park to the Blue Ridge Parkway, gorgeous drives parallel the Appalachian Trail, allowing frequent and beautiful access to this 2,000+ mile trail system that travels from Georgia to Maine. Pick your mountain, begin the climb, and join a community of explorers who have been finding peace and relaxation in these mountaintops since Trail construction began in the 1920s.

Stony Man Summit. NPS. Photographer: Brett Raeburn

(8) Hang Out with the Locals

Looking for that infamous local fishing hole or rumored backwoods adventure?  There’s a whole City waiting to share its secrets. Rockfish Gap Outfitters promises to outfit every style of adventure with bikes, kayaks, and backpacking gear while swapping outdoor adventure stories. South River Fly Shop hosts “Ties and Lies” to share fishing advice and too-good-to-be-true epics. Trail Angels give Appalachian Trail thru-hikers rides to town, and the Beerwerks Trail combines the best of craft brews and good-natured friendliness.

This summer, we look forward to creating new outdoor memories with you in Waynesboro, Virginia!