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Day Trip to Skyline Drive and Buckland Farm Market
Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 9:30 AM until 5:00 PM
TRANSPORTATION: $29 fee includes round trip transportation via 24-passenger shuttle van and professional driver and park entrance fee. We will depart from Metro Plaza (the driveway on the M Street side of Safeway). Please contact the Village for a home pick-up if mobility restrictions would impact your ability to meet at Safeway.
DINING: Lunch at the Big Meadows Lodge dining room will be regular menu service with separate checks. Reservations are not accepted, upon our arrival at the lodge you should organize your preferred lunch group and proceed to the host stand to request your table. During the wait for your table there are historical displays, world-class views, and a gift shop to explore. You may also opt to have lunch in the nearby self-service Skyline Wayside if you wish to have more time for sightseeing.
YOUR DAY, YOUR WAY: Following lunch, we will have up to one hour at the Big Meadows complex to explore the Visitors Center with its history of the park's development, visit the gift shop, or take a walk through the meadow.
WEATHER POLICY: Rain or shine. Our itinerary may be adjusted in the event of rain to allow for more time at the park's interpretive center and other indoor points of interest.
ACCESSIBILITY: The 24-passenger Chariots for Hire shuttle van, visitors centers, Big Meadows Lodge, Skyline Wayside, and Buckland Farm Market are fully ADA compliant including wheelchair accessible.
Your non-member guest is welcome.
I understand and agree that no refunds will be issued for cancellations after 5pm on September 23, but that my booking is transferable to another Village Member or may be donated to the Village for resale or Volunteer recognition if I am unable to attend.
Exception: If the vehicle chosen for the event is September 24 or later and not compatible with your mobility needs, a full refund will be offered.
In 1924 the search for a national park site in the east brought the Southern Appalachian National Park Committee to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Their job was to find a site accessible to the 40 million Americans living in eastern cities including Washington, D.C.
The committee recommended the site that is today visited by millions of Americans each year, Shenandoah National Park. As part of that recommendation the committee, recognizing the proliferation of the automobile, suggested that the “greatest single feature” of the proposed park should be a “sky-line drive along the mountain top, following a continuous ridge and looking down westerly on the Shenandoah Valley…and also commanding a view of the Piedmont Plain stretching easterly to the Washington Monument.”
Construction of such a roadway was a pioneering work of landscape architecture and engineering, as well as a famous work-relief project. Work was begun before the park was even established using emergency employment relief funds, and continued by the boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps who spent thousands of hours building beautiful rock walls and landscaping sweeping overlooks to make Skyline Drive the experience it has been for over 75 years.
After an approximately 90 minute drive from Washington via Interstate 66, we will enter the park near Front Royal, Virginia. Our first stop just under five miles into the park will be the Dickey Ridge Visitors Center, elevation 1940 feet. At the center, you can enjoy a short orientation film about the park, use the restroom, and get a map and other printed materials. The large interactive topographical map is highly recommend to familiarize yourself with the drive ahead.
15 miles farther into the park and at nearly 3,500 feet elevation, we will stop at the highest point on our drive, the Hogback Mountain overlook, for picture-taking (no facilities). Our next stop in approximately 30 minutes will be the centerpiece of the Skyline Drive: Big Meadows.
The exhibit at the Byrd Visitors Center tells the stories of Shenandoah's establishment and development, including the controversial acquisition of privately owned land, the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the little-known story of desegregation in the 1930's and 40's. As each decade has unfolded, Shenandoah's landscape has changed in reflection of Americans' values. Also at Byrd Visitor Center you'll find a selection of movies for sale including Shenandoah, The Gift.
The historic Big Meadows Lodge is the showplace of the Skyline Drive, with a dining room, cabins, and gift shop. Our visit coincides with the Lodge's 80th anniversary celebration: "1939: Rewind." The lodge was built with stones cut from the Massanutten Mountain and the entire interior structure, including the paneling, is made from native chestnut trees, which today are virtually extinct. The lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
If a brief hike with a modest (30') gradient is appealing, a one-mile loop of the Big Meadows Trail directly across Skyline Drive from the Visitors Center offers the chance to see white-tailed deer and a variety of local birds. Because of the high volume of people, the deer usually do not shy away, making them easy to photograph. Big Meadows is full of plants and flowers that vary in their bloom as the seasons change.
If the meadow walk appeal, you may wish to consider a more casual lunch in the adjacent self-service Skyline Wayside rather than the Big Meadows Lodge dining room.
After a roughly 30-minute drive, we will exit the park at Thornton Gap and descend into the quaint village of Sperryville to begin our return drive. We will travel through the beautiful Rappahannock Valley, once a farming center and more recently one of Virginia's thriving wine regions. We will make a stop at New Baltimore for shopping and ice cream at Buckland Farm Market before the one-hour drive back to Southwest Washington.