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!
For the golfing enthusiast, there’s a special pleasure in discovering a golf course that combines well-designed holes and breathtakingly beautiful scenery. If you’re looking to escape the city and lose yourself in golfing paradise, Front Royal may be your perfect destination.
Conveniently located just minutes from I-81 and I-66, Front Royal is easy to reach from the D.C./Northern Virginia Area. Yet this delightful town hasn’t lost any of the quintessential charm of a country town in the Shenandoah Valley. Spend a few days golfing in Front Royal. You’ll find the golf courses enjoyable, the scenery unforgettable, and the atmosphere irresistible!
Read on for help planning your golfing trip to Front Royal. We’ve included recommended lodging, and two golf courses to be sure to check out, as well as some tips to help you enjoy the best of our small town life!
Front Royal’s Most Convenient Golfing Accommodation
Front Royal’s award-winning Holiday Inn and Suites is a natural choice for the golfer in search of a comfortable home away from home. Located just off the I-66 Front Royal exit, the hotel is easy to access and find. It’s also on the grounds of the Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club! You can look out of your window and plan your strategy for the day’s golfing, while enjoying the vista of a perfectly maintained golf course against the jaw-dropping background of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
If you want to roll out of bed and onto the golf course, Front Royal’s Holiday Inn and Suites is the place for you. Be sure to check out their golf packages. You’ll rest easy knowing that you got a great deal on both your stay and your golf!
Go here to explore more options for lodging in Front Royal.
Front Royal Golf Courses for an Unforgettable Round (or Two!)
Whether or not you decide to stay at the Holiday Inn and Suites, you’ll want to put the Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club high on your list of golf courses to enjoy in Front Royal. The name says it all. This classic 18-hole course features engaging challenges and cleverly crafted holes, all set in the shadow of Virginia’s stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. There’s even a sixty foot waterfall just behind the eighteenth green. With a comprehensive practice complex on site as well, you’ll find hours upon hours of enjoyable golf play await you at Blue Ridge Shadows!
Less than five miles from Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club is of Front Royal’s best golf courses. The Shenandoah Valley Golf Club has been voted by the Golf Digest as one of the top ten golf courses in Virginia! The Shenandoah Valley Golf Course boasts 27 holes that stay true to the original design of the course, over fifty years ago. Repeat visitors can enjoy a revered tradition, as well as introducing variety into their game. The whole course is surrounded by stunning scenic views. Want to spend some time tuning-up your game? You can schedule a private lesson at the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club.
Neighboring the Shenandoah Valley Golf Club is Bowling Green Country Club with two 18-hole courses to choose from. With the two clubs so close to each other, you can spend less time driving and more time exploring golf courses on your trip to Front Royal. At Bowling Green Country Club you can enjoy more stunning mountain views while you play. For those looking to spend time practicing, the club also boasts the best driving range in the Winchester area. Private lessons are an option here too.
If you want to experience the Shenandoah River while you golf, your best option is the Front Royal Golf Club. It’s a smaller club, with only nine holes, but four of the holes are located right on the banks of this breathtaking river. That’s more than you’ll find on any other course in Virginia! The Front Royal Golf Club is also incredibly close to Front Royal’s Holiday Inn and Suites. Hop in your car and you can be there in just a few minutes.
Finally, for a relaxed, family-owned small-business feel, don’t forget to stop by Sly Fox Golf Club. This 18-hole course has benefitted from recent renovations, and features exciting water hazards. It’s challenging for experienced players, but accessible for young golfers and seniors too.
Don’t Forget to Discover Front Royal!
With all the good golfing available in Front Royal, you may be tempted never to leave the greens! However, if you can tear yourself away, it’s definitely worth taking a few hours to enjoy the charming town of Front Royal. Explore Front Royal’s quaint Main Street area, or grab a beer at the end of a long day on the course. You’ll find a great choice of fun spots to enjoy a locally brewed craft beer, including the Front Royal Brewing Company, the Virginia Beer Museum, and the Bushel Pub at the Apple House.
Front Royal, Virginia is truly a haven for golfers looking to enjoy a relaxing weekend in the idyllic Shenandoah Valley while playing on top-notch golf courses. Don’t wait to plan your next golfing getaway. Make your reservations today, and look forward to an unforgettable trip as you discover golfing in Front Royal!
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you’ve only heard them mentioned once or twice, you’re not alone. And yet these underappreciated snow sports deserve a lot more popularity. Their famous cousins, skiing and snowboarding, tend to steal the spotlight. But both essentially require travel to expensive resorts, and demand a reasonably high level of physical fitness. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are much more widely accessible. If you like to hike (or even walk!), and live in an area where there’s snow, chances are you’ll be able to enjoy one or the other with only minimal upfront investment.
A snowy day in the Front Royal area is a great setting for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Whether you’re new to these snow sports, or an old hand, we’ll hope you’ll adventure out this winter and enjoy them. Read on for more information about these sports, as well as some suggestions of where to go in the Front Royal area.
Snowshoeing – the Basics
Snowshoeing can be as simple as hiking in the snow . . . but using specially designed snowshoes to make your life easier. Snowshoes work by providing a wider base for your feet than normal shoes. With your weight distributed over the wider area of the snowshoe, you can walk on top of the snow, without your feet sinking fully into it.
It’s possible to take a deep dive into various specialized techniques for snowshoeing. However, it really can be as simple as slipping snowshoes over your boots and taking a walk (in snow, of course!). “If you can walk, you can snowshoe” is a common mantra among snowshoeing enthusiasts. Snowshoeing is a great way to continue to enjoy your favorite hiking trails through the winter months. To get started, simply buy or rent a pair of snowshoes and head out. Poles are also worth considering if you plan to tackle steep slopes or tricky terrain.
Cross-country skiing is both more expensive and more challenging than snowshoeing. Nevertheless, it’s still more accessible than downhill skiing. It’s a great sport to try if you’re looking for a bit more excitement than snowshoeing.
Cross-country skiing involves a pair of skies similar to those used for downhill skiing. Poles are also essential. Cross-country skis allow the skier to traverse flat and even uphill terrain in addition to downhill runs. Because of the speed involved, downhill slopes are the most challenging to navigate in cross-country skiing, and should be approached with caution.
To get started cross-country skiing, it’s helpful to do some research into techniques. Check out videos such as this one, which give beginners a good introduction to the sport. You can also possible to look into instruction and guided trips, but since you can take cross-country skiing at your own pace, it’s also possible to try it out on your own.
Locations for Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing in the Front Royal Area
With snowshoeing’s similarities to hiking, it is possible to snowshoe on many of the great hiking trails around Front Royal. In fact, there are so many beautiful places to hike around Front Royal, that it’s a great place to give snowshoeing a try. When Skyline Drive is closed to traffic because of snowy conditions, remember you can access the park on foot from any boundary access point.
To find a great cross-country skiing trail, you’ll need to be a little more selective. You’ll want to find smooth trails, with gentle slopes. However, there’s still plenty to enjoy in the Front Royal area. Check out some of the trails in Sky Meadows State Park where the terrain is less mountainous. In Shenandoah National Park, the Limberlost Trail is a top pick for beginner cross-country skiers. The Big Meadows area is another part of the park that is particularly popular, with its gentle slopes and open fields. Finally, the iconic Skyline Drive itself might be an option. Before the road is plowed after a snowfall, while it’s still closed to traffic, it can provide an ideal surface for cross-country skiing, complete with stunning views and overlooks. Of course, you’ll need to keep a close eye out for the snowplow if you take this option. It’s also suggested that skiers access Skyline Drive at the Thornton Gap entrance station, rather than in Front Royal. A long, steep climb is the first thing you face after the Front Royal entrance station.
Though they are accessible to a wide variety of people, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing do involve some risk. As with any sport, especially those involving snowy and icy conditions, it is possible to suffer serious injury while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Don’t be discouraged from giving these sports a try, but remember that it is important to exercise caution and stay within your limits. Ideally, you should bring a buddy if you are heading out onto the trails. At least be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. If you feel uncertain about your proficiency, it is much better to obtain professional training than to risk injury.
Don’t let the fantastic hiking trails in the Front Royal area lie silent and unused this winter.
A snowfall in the Front Royal area is a great opportunity to get out and give one of these snow sports a try. It’s not too hard to get started, and you may discover a new favorite way to exercise in the winter.
All of fall is beautiful, but the season’s “peak” is that much-anticipated time when the greatest abundance of fall colors fill the landscape. It’s a short window, arriving when the vast majority of leaves have assumed their fall hues, and ending as they turn brown and fall from the trees. In the Shenandoah Valley, peak usually arrives in October (predictions for 2021 point to early-mid October). The season typically lasts around two weeks.
If you’re coming to the Front Royal area to enjoy peak foliage, we’ve put together some helpful information. Read on some fun facts about the beautiful trees you can expect to see. We’re also featuring Front Royal’s top fall attraction: Skyline Drive.
Who’s Who in the Peak Foliage
Yellows, oranges, and reds are the signature colors of fall, and together they make up a peak fall landscape. However, it takes a variety of trees to make all of these vibrant shades appear. Different species contribute different hues to the display. If you’re seeing yellows and oranges, you may well be enjoying a view of beeches, sycamores, or sugar maples. Red maples take their name for the bright scarlet that they contribute to the riotous colors of fall. Meanwhile, oaks are a well-known species that contribute a spectrum of reds, russets, and browns (in addition to covering the ground with acorns – another signature sight of fall).
Of course these tips can only get you so far in determining which tree you’re looking at. If you’re wanting to go a little deeper in your enjoyment of the peak foliage, a little tree identification may fit the bill. Equip yourself with a tree identification field guide before heading out on your hike or fall picnic. You’ll find that identifying trees is a fun activity for all the family. And it’ll definitely help you increase your appreciation of nature’s handiwork.
Skyline Drive from the Front Royal End
Speaking of fall hikes and picnics, the premier spot for such pursuits is Virginia’s Skyline Drive. The central road of Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive is one of the nation’s favorite places to enjoy peak fall foliage. Cresting the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, Skyline Drive provides access to many unparalleled vantage points from which to enjoy the vistas of fall in the Shenandoah Valley. The northern entrance of the park is conveniently located right in the town of Front Royal.
Simply enjoying a drive through the park is a great way to enjoy the foliage display. In fact, Skyline Drive was actually designed with driving in mind. However, October is Skyline Drive’s most visited month, and the traffic can get frustrating. If you’re looking to enjoy Skyline Drive from the Front Royal end, we’ve rounded up some ideas for leaf-peeping in the park without having to drive too far. That way you can spend more time enjoying nature, and less time waiting in leaf-peeper traffic.
Compton Peak is a fantastic hike near the Front Royal end of the park. It’s a family friendly trail that includes a mildly strenuous climb, but is manageable for most. Park at the Compton Gap parking area (mile-marker 10.4). Cross the road, and head south/west on the Appalachian Trail into the woods. After a mile or so, the Compton Peak trail intersects the Appalachian Trail. Look out for a concrete marker to tell you the you've arrived at this point. A right turn takes you up hill to a stunning viewpoint, where you can enjoy the fall foliage and a sense of accomplishment. Heading left will bring you to a more obstructed viewpoint, but fascinating rock formations. Can’t decide? The two overlooks are close enough that you can check out both.
If you’re not up for a hike, there are some great picnicking spots also within easy distance of the Front Royal entrance to the park. Range View Overlook (mile-marker 17.0) consistently makes it on lists of the park’s top overlooks. From this viewpoint, take in the beauty of the piedmont on the Eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For views of the Shenandoah Valley to the West, good options are Gooney Run Overlook (mile 6.8), and the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. Dickey Ridge is also a great place to get advice from a park ranger on other good spots to check out in the park.
Peak fall foliage in Shenandoah National Park is truly a national treasure. Don’t miss out on one of America’s favorite leaf-peeping spots. Plan your peak foliage visit to Skyline Drive today!
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