We live about 80 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. I have lived in Virginia my whole life. When we were first married, we lived in Charlottesville, which is literally in the foothills. And I am embarrassed to tell you that I had never been on the Skyline Drive.
We had such a lovely time at the beach, Roger suggested that we drive the other way and do a little leaf peeping. This was about two weeks before Hurricane Sandy blew through and probably stripped all the remaining leaves off the trees.
You can get to Charlottesville in an hour on I-64 but we decided to save that boring piece of road for the ride home and set off on Staples Mill Road aka Route 33. This is a two lane road, winding from one small rural community to the next. Eventually, we stopped for nourishment in Louisa before heading for one of the entry points on the Skyline Drive.
This was a WPA project during the Great Depression and the CCC – Civilian Conservation Corps – continued to work on it until it was completed. Many of the overlooks are being repaved with stimulus money, in case you wondered where that money went.
The overlooks face in both directions and alternate as you drive along, so you can look down on the Shenandoah Valley or across the far mountains. Sadly, most of the mountain overlooks were closed for repairs.
Turns out that you can buy a lifetime pass to this and all the other National Parks for only $10 if you are a senior. The ticket lady looked at our silver hair and told us about this great deal; we happily paid less money than it would have cost to go through just once as a young person.
Put your feet up and enjoy a leisurely look at the Blue Ridge Mountains as the leaves turn in autumn.
One of the first overlooks reminded us why they call these the Blue Ridge Mountains
After a while, we got to look in the other direction, seeing some of the fall color.
Behind us, we could often see solid walls of rock. The road was cut right through this.
They used rock pieces to create low walls at the edge of the overlooks.
A close-up look at the side of one mountain. The foggy-looking spots are actually trees that have shed all their leaves.
A last look before we got off the Skyline Drive
Remember, as we stood there, this was all we could see for miles in all directions. It was clear and just cool enough for long sleeves. There was almost no noise but the sound of birds and bees. And the occasion silver-haired tourist, stopping beside us with the obligatory camera. One of the joys of running away from work on a weekday is that there are rarely crowds of any kind.
I looked out at those rolling hills and thought about the people who lived on the Eastern Seaboard and decided that wasn’t enough for them. They loaded up a horse and maybe a wagon and set off to climb these mountains and see what was on the other side. Makes me tired just to think about it.