Waynesboro, Virginia, is well known as the crossroads of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. An ideal launching point to enjoy the trails of the Shenandoah Valley, the city itself also holds much to explore. A look into the street signs crisscrossing the city reveals a deep and lasting appreciation for the rich history, art, industry, and musical culture that deeply infuses Waynesboro.
When you make Waynesboro, Virginia, your basecamp for outdoor adventure, you have hundreds of trails and acres of natural goodness to explore. Where to start? For some quiet solitude with Mother Nature, pack a lunch and head to one of these less-traveled fishing holes, scenic vistas, or picnic spots.
Land a Quiet Fishing Hole
Waynesboro’s renowned urban fishery is a destination for anglers around the world. We’re also centrally located for fishing adventures throughout the Shenandoah Valley. For less-traveled fishing holes, pack your hiking boots and head to Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness or the Mill Creek and Coles Run Reservoirs tucked back in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
Or book a backcountry fly fishing trip with South River Fly Shop, and you’ll experience some of the Shenandoah National Park’s best secluded fishing holes with the benefit of full service guiding and instruction!
Before you head out on the water, you can find the latest information on licenses and regulations at Fish Virginia First.
Since its humble beginnings in an Augusta County horse barn, the Wildlife Center of Virginia has been offering health care and emergency services to native wildlife for 35 years. While it’s not the only wildlife center in Virginia, it’s unique for its emphasis on education. Think of it as a teaching hospital with doctors on staff and patients in various stages of recovery. As such, the Center cannot allow visitors to walk in and interact with the patients. (These patients, in particular, would find that encounter highly stressful!) However, the Center schedules open houses throughout the year, and there are numerous ways to see the animals in action.
I recently spoke with Amanda Nicholson, Director of Outreach, and got the answers to some of my own pressing questions.
Waynesboro, Virginia, is a popular destination for outdoor lovers regardless of season. But there’s definitely something about autumn in the Shenandoah Valley that fires up the senses. You’ve got the invigorating sunshine, the crisp mountain air, and rolling vistas of dazzling fall foliage – all beckoning you to come out and play. In addition to the famous Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Waynesboro offers an abundance of options for those looking to leaf-peep off the beaten track.
Witness Peak Color & Aerobatics at Rockfish Gap
Every autumn, thousands of raptors soar high above the juncture of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway as they migrate through Rockfish Gap. Broad-winged hawks, ospreys, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons are just four of the 16 species you may witness gliding from thermal to thermal.
The Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, located on the grounds of the Inn at Afton, is easily accessible by car and offers 180 degree panoramic views of both the migration and the fall foliage of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont Region to the east. Local volunteers are at the watch from August 15 to November 30 to collect raptor data for global research and education. If the volunteers are in the midst of counting and unable to chat “raptors”, please direct your curiosity to the educational panel on the site. Songbirds, Monarch butterflies, and dragonflies also migrate through Rockfish Gap. Pack a picnic and enjoy a colorful aerial show above and around you!
Waynesboro, Virginia, is renowned for an abundance of high-octane thrills, with mountain biking and rock climbing often highlighted. A spirited heritage runs deep in these Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, and an exploration into the region’s rich lore and mystique is itself an adventure!
These Spirited Mountains
“Mash,” “granny fee,” “singlings,” “mountain dew,” and “a bootleg turn”… the language, mystique, and modern media portrayals of Blue Ridge moonshining have created quite a body of lore.
For the real scoop on the history and culture of untaxed liquor in the mountains of Virginia, there’s no better resource than the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum’s online exhibition, “Moonshine – Blue Ridge Style.”
Settlers to the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1700s brought their traditions with them, including distilling grains into whiskey and fruit into brandy and using the leftover “slop” from the process for livestock feed. The United States government first began taxing alcohol to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Those distillers who chose not to get a license nor pay tax on their whiskey became known as “bootleggers” and “moonshiners.”
When Virginia banned alcohol in 1914, the demand for moonshine only increased, and previously licensed distillers and bootleggers alike found illegal, but highly creative means to continue to produce and deliver their liquor.
For firsthand accounts and tall tales of moonshine’s role in mountain life, search the online issues of “The Mountain Laurel – The Journal of Mountain Life.” From “medicinal uses” and working a still before school to a story about a gorilla protecting the still of one moonshiner, this collection is a treasure trove of memories and stories!
Waynesboro and Augusta County, Virginia, were once America’s western frontier.
The Shenandoah Valley’s renowned rugged beauty and secluded natural treasures continue to attract adventurous spirits. Today’s explorers will discover a wild and wondrous landscape rich in geological, natural, and cultural significance. Like a kaleidoscope, each turn of the seasons reveals fresh sights to enjoy.
Fall deeper in love with a romantic getaway to Waynesboro, Virginia! With venues that express your personality and magnificent vistas to help capture the magic, the picturesque Shenandoah Valley creates a gorgeous backdrop for your engagement photos, wedding ceremony, renewal vows, or romantic weekend.
Bordered by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, the Shenandoah Valley acted as a north-south passage for travelers during its settlement and growth, and at no other time was its location so critical than during the Civil War. Union and Confederate troops clashed along its length as the two armies sought to gain ground while driving the enemy backwards. Today, Civil War buffs can experience those costly battles through a variety of museums, films, tours, battlefields, and re-enactments. Since any point in the Shenandoah Valley is easily reached within an hour or two of Waynesboro, the region is ripe for day trips and driving tours.
This fall treat yourself to an invigorating getaway to beautiful Waynesboro, Virginia, where nature inspires artists and artists inspire community. From street art to plein air, this year’s art festivals are sure to bring color and spunk to your autumn.
Waynesboro,VA is the greatest playground a kid (and their adult) could ask for! Fresh mountain air, family-friendly venues, and engaging hands-on fun, provide endless outlets for curiosity, creativity, and energy. The kid in your life will love these favorite Waynesboro activities.
Celebrating a birthday? Looking for a unique family outing? Schedule a tour of the renowned Wildlife Center of Virginia! Kids will learn about the inner-workings of a wildlife hospital and have a close-up experience of one of the resident non-releasable owls, hawks, or eagles. A guided nature hike led by a Wildlife Center educator will give children a fresh look into the animals and habitat of the adjoining George Washington National Forest.