Every fall sees large numbers of visitors heading to the Front Royal area in pursuit of the breathtaking fall foliage vistas. But if you’re seeking nature’s glory splendor in Front Royal this year, make sure you catch the whole show! Mother Nature isn’t done after a day of drinking in the splendor of fall. There’s an equally glorious display about to come: the star-filled night sky.
There’s something about stargazing that’s good for the soul. The sight of thousands of sparkling lights coming from worlds away is one that never gets old. It’s a good reminder of how big the universe is. And how small we are.
And maybe it’s something we’re meant to see. After all, for most of human history, people everywhere enjoyed star filled skies on a regular basis. Today, light pollution has made stargazing difficult for those living in highly populated areas. That’s yet another reason to escape to the Front Royal area this fall so you can enjoy the night sky the way it’s supposed to be.
Stargazing Spots in the Front Royal Area
For those in search of the thrill of gazing at a starlit sky, there are two parks in the Front Royal area that offer particularly outstanding displays.
The first is Shenandoah National Park. Driving on Skyline Drive already makes you feel a bit closer to the sky. But for stargazers there’s still some light pollution from the towns in the valley below. To maximize your night sky viewing, head to one of the park’s top stargazing areas. The Big Meadows area is a sought-after stargazing spot, and the location of Shenandoah National Park’s formal astronomy program, which takes place on select Friday nights through the month of October. The Skyland Amphitheater is another top stargazing spot in the park. Making arrangements for a campsite,cabin, or hotel room in Shenandoah National Park is a great way to enjoy some stargazing without having to make a long trip home at night.
For more tips, see this guide to stargazing in Shenandoah National Park. The guide includes including a list of the top overlooks in the park for stargazing (with the least light pollution interference).
On the other side of Front Royal, another great option is Sky Meadows State Park. Sky Meadows offers such great night sky views, that it’s recently become an officially designated Dark Sky Park. The park typically closes at dusk, but check their schedule of events for the popular Astronomy for Everyone program. For these family friendly events, the park stays open after dark, and you can enjoy a guided stargazing experience. Or if you want a real stargazing adventure, plan on using their primitive hike-in tent camping site and spending a memorable night under the stars.
Five Stargazing Tips
If you’re sold on making stargazing part of your next Front Royal adventure, read on for a few more tips that will help make your experience great!
1.Plan with the moon in mind. The brighter the moon, the less you’ll see of the stars, as the light of the moon can drown out these smaller nights. Stargazing will be best with a new or crescent moon above you.
1.Wait for clear skies. You’ll also want to make sure that there’s minimal cloud coverage blocking your views of the stars. Choose a crisp, clear fall night (and maybe bring a mug of hot chocolate!).
1.Let your eyes get used to the dark. You may not be used to being outside after dark, but your eyes will get there quicker than you think. While it takes several hours for your eyes to completely adjust to darker conditions, major changes take place in your eyes after just ten minutes of darkness, allowing you to see better. To help your eyes adjust, avoid using flashlights or other artificial lights as possible. It’s also helpful to avoid looking at phone screens. If you must use a light, try using one that’s tinted red.
1.Stay safe. If you’re an adventurous spirit in the park after dark, you might be tempted by the idea of a stargazing hike. While hiking at night can be a fun and memorable adventure, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll want to take added safety precautions. Don’t stray from trails at night. You may find it impossible to retrace your steps without light. Also, avoid trails with hazards such as steep drops that could be particularly dangerous in the dark. Be particularly alert for wildlife. And as always, make sure someone knows where you are going, and when you expect to return.
For more stargazing tips, see this article on stargazing in Shenandoah National Park.
There are few sights as captivating as a night sky filled with stars, or as stunning as the Blue Ridge mountains lit up with the colors of fall. Plan to enjoy both this year. A combination leaf-peeping star-gazing trip will leave you filled with awe at nature’s wonders.
Photography means opening a window to let others in on your perspective. It means artfully capturing a small part through a tiny lens, and revealing something about the whole. It can mean planning meticulously and waiting patiently for the perfect shot. Or it can mean seizing the moment at a second’s notice so you don’t let the perfect image slip away.
This year, Discover Front Royal is in search of photographers who can work their magic in the Front Royal and Warren County area. Front Royal is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. But we want to see the Shenandoah Valley through the eyes of those who love it. Whether you’re a visitor to the Front Royal area, or a long time resident, we’ve love to see what YOU think makes this area so special.
Read on for more details about submitting entries to our photo contest. You can share what most captivates you about Front Royal, Warren County, and the Shenandoah Valley, and have a chance to win one of several great prizes!
1. Capture what you think are the best images in the Front Royal area.
With a wide range of categories including seasonal photography, Front Royal’s Downtown, and even drone/aerial footage, you’ll find a chance to share your own unique angle on our area.
In the Front Royal area, photography can be coupled with loads of other fun activities. Think hiking, camping, canoeing (with a waterproof camera!), wine-tasting, and loads more. Don’t forget to have fun while you’re in search of those winning entries!
2. Submit your photo to the photo contest here.
Be sure to fill out all the required information. Any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Submit any more fantastic images you capture through the year.
With the contest running for a full year (all the way to September 1, 2022), you have time to make sure that none of the “Best Views from the Valley” pass you by.
Contest winners will hear directly from us at the end of the contest, as well as seeing their work featured on Discover Front Royal’s website and social media. They’ll also be receiving some great prizes!
Enter for Best Drone/Aerial Footage
If you love photography and the Front Royal/Shenandoah Valley area, this one’s for you! Have fun capturing a spectacular image of the valley, share what you love with countless others, and have a chance to win one of several fantastic prizes. It’s an exciting and fun-filled opportunity you won’t want to miss.
Let others DISCOVER Front Royal through your lens!
For animal enthusiasts, spring can herald the welcome return of wild animal sightings after the long, still winter. With its mountains, forests, and rivers, the Front Royal area has plenty of natural habitat for a diverse array of wild animals. Patient nature observers have a great chance for some exciting wildlife encounters.
Read on for an introduction to some of the easiest wild animals to spot around Front Royal. We’ve also included some viewing tips and some special guidance for spring viewing.
Black Bears Emerge From Hibernation
Black bears occupy a broader range of habitats than any other species of bear, and they’re long-time residents of Virginia. Black bear cubs are born in mid-winter, during the hibernation period, and first emerge with their mothers in the spring. As bears begin to forage for food sources in the spring, it’s not uncommon to spot a mother with several cubs in tow. It’s a charming sight, but be careful! The term mama bear comes from a mother bear’s fierce protective instincts. Interfering with cubs could lead to an unpleasant and dangerous encounter with the mother. This is one spring sight that’s best enjoyed from a distance!
White-tailed Deer – It’s Time to Enjoy Them!
To gardeners and farmers they can be a nuisance, but if you’re not fighting to keep them out of your crops, these easy-to-spot animals are a beautiful sight. Whether you’re observing a majestic buck or a group of does (sometimes with fawns in tow!), a deer sighting can be a great chance to enjoy the beauty of the natural world. White-tailed deer are prolific in the Front Royal area, and you should have a good chance of spotting one (or a several!) in the parks around Front Royal. In spring, keep a special lookout for the delightful sight of new young fawns.
Wildlife in the Shenandoah River – Sun-bathing Turtles
Turtle sightings are yet another sign of the return of warmer weather. Turtles particularly like to sunbathe during spring time. And with the Shenandoah River running right through town, Front Royal is a great place to watch them. Take a riverside walk at Eastham Park or the Shenandoah River State Park, and look out for groups of turtles sunbathing on riverside logs. Or take a river trip with one of Front Royal’s own outfitters, and enjoy observing the turtles from the relaxing viewpoint of the river.
Top Tips for Wildlife Viewing in the Front Royal Area
If you’re serious about seeking out wildlife sightings around Front Royal this spring, head out to one of the Front Royal area’s fantastic parks, and get wildlife watching! The Shenandoah National Park has been rated one of the best national parks for wildlife viewing. The George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah River State Park are two more great local options.
Follow our four top tips to ensure a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
1. Keep your distance! All wild animals can be dangerous, and it’s important for both your sake and the animal’s that you keep a safe distance apart. You should never touch or pick up a wild animal. In the spring, it’s not uncommon to come across a baby fawn bedded down alone. Don’t assume that the baby has been abandoned. Mother deer often leave their babies for extended periods while they forage for food. Touching or moving a fawn could lead to its abandonment and even death.
2. Sit still! Even if you think you’re walking quietly, it’s a guarantee that wildlife can see and hear you. You best chance for some animal viewing is to find a spot where you can sit quietly and blend in with nature.
3. Pick your time! Dawn and dusk are the best times for wildlife watching, as these times coincide with a peak in animal movement and activity. Of course, you’ll want to settle into your viewing spot a little in advance of this time, so if you’re planning a dawn expedition, you’ll need an early wake up call. Plan a camping trip if you want to ensure you’re out in nature first thing in the morning!
4. Bring your camera! You may be about to experience some unique and memorable sights. Don’t forget to bring a camera along so you can capture the beauty of the natural world and enjoy it for years to come.
The animal kingdom is full of wonders for us to enjoy, and many of them are right here in the Shenandoah Valley. As animals become more active in the spring, it’s a great time to get out and observe them in their natural habitats. Here’s to your next animal adventure!
Every fisherman knows that as the weather (and the water) warms up, fish become more active . . . and easier to catch! As spring arrives, the sight of anglers becomes much more common on the many waterways of the Front Royal area.
Today we’re gearing up for the fishing season by shining the spotlight on fly fishing in the Front Royal area. Fly fishing is a specific fishing technique. Instead of using live bait or weighted lures, the fly fisherman uses light weight lures, known as “flies” to attract fish. Some flies are designed to sink below the surface of the water, mimicking small fish or insect larvae, but many float on the surface. The goal? To fool a hungry fish into mistaking them for one of the many flies that enjoy the river’s surface in the warmer months. Because the fly fishing “flies” are so light, the casting technique in fly fishing differs significantly from that used in spin cast fishing.
If this special form of fishing has piqued your interest, Front Royal is a great place to give it a try. Whether you’re a beginning fly-fisher, or an old hand, the Front Royal area has fishing opportunities for all skill levels. Read on for some suggestions of where to go fly fishing in the Front Royal area.
Why Fly Fish?
In certain situations, fly fishing can be more effective than using a spin cast technique. It’s also exciting; if you’re using a surface fly, you’ll often get the thrill of watching the fish come up to tand take it. Many practitioners of fly fishing would also argue that their techniques are more refined and sophisticated than those used in spin casting. But we’ll leave that question for the fishing enthusiasts to debate . . . (preferably in the bar after a day on the river).
Fly Fishing the Shenandoah River in the Front Royal Area
The Shenandoah River is an obvious place to start if you’re looking for a place to fish in the Front Royal area. This scenic river is rightly sought after as a destination for all kinds of water sports, and fishing is no exception. If small mouth bass are your prey of choice, you can’t go wrong planning a day of fly fishing on the Shenandoah.
The Front Royal area has multiple access points to the river. Fishermen can fish from the banks, or plan a river trip from one landing to the next. See here for a map of river access points in Warren County. Looking for a watercraft rental? Peruse our list of local river outfitters here.
Stocked Trout Streams around Front Royal
Smallmouth bass are fun to catch, but the classic target of the fly fisherman is the trout. Finding a stocked trout stream is a great way to “get your feet wet” trout fishing. If you’re lucky enough to time your outing soon after a visit from the stocking truck, you’ll have a high chance of success.
For a family-friendly, easily accessible option, try the Gertrude E. Miller Community Park in Front Royal. A stocked section of Happy Creek runs through the park. There’s also a playground and picnic shelter close by. So the non-fishers, or “short-attention-span-fishers” can have a great time too. This park is a popular location for Front Royal fishing, so expect to see other anglers here.
A more secluded option for stocked trout fishing is Passage Creek in the George Washington National Forest. Here, you’ll find beautiful scenery, peace and quiet, and a classic fly fishing stream experience. To access Passage Creek, head out of Front Royal on VA-55 towards Strasburg, and after 5 miles, take a left onto State Route 678/Fort Valley Road. Passage Creek runs beside this road for a significant distance, and you’ll find several parking spots where you can pull off and access the creek.
(Note that due to construction at the Front Royal fish hatchery, Passage Creek will not be stocked in spring 202.1)
Native Trout Fishing in the Front Royal Area
But while stocked trout fishing is a great way to get started, many experts agree that catching native (not stocked) brook trout in a mountain stream is one of the best ways to experience fly fishing. If you’re in search of a fly fishing adventure along these lines, Front Royal can be your destination too.
The Shenandoah National Park, with its northern entrance located in Front Royal is a great place to fly fish. It’s one of the few coveted spots in the D.C. area where you can find native brook trout. The Rapidan River is one of the most famous native trout habitats in the park. It’s off the beaten track, though, so if you’re planning a fishing trip there, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. For the adventurous, there are also several native trout streams in the park that are accessible from hiking trails.
Enjoy your fly fishing adventure in the Front Royal area! Before you head out, don’t forget to purchase all appropriate fishing licenses. And if you’re hoping to bring your catch home, be sure to read up on all the harvesting regulations wherever you plan to fish.
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