If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering whether this fall is quite the same as the last one, the answer is: probably not. Every fall is different – and while all of them are beautiful, it’s true that some are more splendid than others. Each year, several different factors influences the complex biological process of the changing of the leaves. Small differences in these factors can lead to variations in many aspects of the fall season, including the timing of the color change, the length of the season, and the intensity of the colors.
Wondering how you can plan you fall “leaf-peeping” when the season is so unpredictable? Read on to learn more about what factors influence the display of fall leaves, and what we’ll be doing to help you stay right up-to-date with the exciting developments of fall in the Shenandoah Valley. We’re keeping our finger on the pulse of the season from right here in Front Royal.
Last week, we mentioned that cool temperatures, as well as shortening days, trigger the process by which the leaves on a tree begin to change color and die. While the length of the days stays constant from year to year, the temperatures can vary widely. You won’t really see leaves starting to turn until the cooler temperatures arrive. The onset of cooler weather is a major factor in determining the beginning of the leaf-peeping season.
Even once cooler temperatures come, the weather conditions of the fall can vary. You might see an unexpected warm spell, an early freeze, clear and sunny days, or pervasive cloudy weather and rain. Each of these weather conditions will result in differences in the fall foliage display. Generally, cool temperatures that remain above freezing tend to generate the most brilliant displays of fall colors. In addition, sunlight increases the production of anthyocins, the chemicals responsible for the red colors of the fall. A sunnier fall will result in more vibrant reds than an overcast and rainy season. An early freeze can dampen the display, and strong winds or rain can cause leaves to fall more quickly, shortening the season.
Well before the arrival of fall, spring and summer conditions will have set the stage for the foliage display. If the summer has been particularly hot and dry, the trees will be more stressed, and the splendor of the colors will be somewhat dimmed. A stressful summer may even cause some of the leaves to brown or fall prematurely. A late spring is often associated with a delay in the arrival of the vibrant colors of fall.
Introducing: Leaf Report 2020!
With so many factors affecting the condition of the fall leaves, it’s impossible to predict exactly how the season will develop. The good news is that we’re here to help. Discover Front Royal's Leaf Report 2020 is a super informational tool for all things fall in our area and is excellent as a tracking tool to help you check the condition of the leaves from far away - complete with a 'Live Leaf Cam'! We’ll be updating this page frequently with reports and images from the Front Royal area to help you stay up-to-date and plan your visit. Don’t forget to follow us for updates, and more fun fall information and tips.
With the COVID-19 crisis throwing travel plans into chaos, it may be tempting to give up on the idea of a vacation this year. But the benefits of some time off are well-documented. Taking advantage of paid vacation time improves your health, your happiness, your family relationships, and even your productivity at work. If you want to take a break, but aren’t able to make travel plans we have a solution: a Front Royal staycation! Block out some time to rest, rejuvenate, and explore your hometown!
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Front Royal area, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation right on your doorstep. Not sure where to start? Read on! We’ve rounded up some of our best ideas to make your Front Royal staycation feel like a vacation. You should find something below to suit everyone in the family. And don’t forget: your Front Royal staycation will help the small local businesses that have taken a hard hit during the COVID-19 crisis.
(COVID-19 policies change frequently. Avoid disappointment! Be sure to double check directly with the company for any policy updates before you finalize plans.)
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Front Royal Staycation Dining
One major perk of vacation is taking a break from the never ending tasks of meal-planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. On your Front Royal staycation, you should make sure you still give yourself a break. In fact, since you’ll be saving money on travel and lodging, consider enjoying an extra fancy dinner or two. You might be dying to get out of your house and enjoy a meal in a restaurant. The good news is that many restaurants are now reopening with limited and outdoor seating.
COVID-19 has a lot to answer for, but it may also give you a chance to enjoy an old favorite restaurant in a whole new way. In an effort to follow COVID-19 guidelines, several local restaurants have added outdoor dining, and even carry out or delivery services. Outdoor dining definitely has a vacation feel to it. If you don’t feel like going out, you have the chance to enjoy your favorite restaurant in the comfort of your home.
Some Front Royal favorites that have added a COVID-19 carry out service include The Element, the Front Royal Brewing Company (also offering delivery), and Pavemint Taphouse,. Or bring home an old favorite such as Spelunkers Burgers or Melting Pot Pizza.
See here for a more extensive list of Front Royal dining options.
Front Royal Outdoor Adventure Staycation
Enjoying the great outdoors is a great way to have some summer fun while observing COVID-19 guidelines. Front Royal is the perfect place for a range of outdoor staycation activities (to suit varying levels of adventurousness!).
Nothing says “summer” like relaxing on the river. Many people happily travel for hours to spend some time on a scenic river in the summer. If you live in Front Royal, you don’t have to. A Shenandoah River staycation is at your fingertips! Front Royal’s river outfitters have reduced services due to COVID-19, but if you’re interested in boating or tubing, Front Royal Outdoors has limited river trip offerings. And if you have your own boat, Skyline Canoe is offering a shuttle service so you can enjoy a trip down the river without having to worry about getting back to where you left your car. Fishing and swimming at public river access points are great options for enjoying the river while complying with social distancing guidelines. Water enthusiasts can easily plan a whole week of different river activities in and around Front Royal.
For another day of outdoor summer fun, consider hiking or biking one of Front Royal’s popular trails. Pack your own picnic, or stop at Blue Wing Frog and have them pack one for you.
Other options for outdoor fun in and around Front Royal include rock climbing, golfing, and horseback riding stables. You can even enjoy a horseback ride through the Shenandoah National Park.
It wouldn’t be a summer vacation without some ice cream. Don’t forget to cool down at the end of the day at one of Front Royal’s favorite ice cream spots. Try The Apple House Ice Cream Stand, the ever popular Spelunker’s, or C&C’s Frozen Treats on Main Street.
The Indoor Front Royal Staycation
If being outdoors and active in the heat of summer doesn’t sound relaxing, don’t worry. There’s still plenty to do in Front Royal. And many indoor-based businesses have established COVID-19 policies that allow them to remain open. Here are some slower-paced ideas for your Front Royal staycation fun in Front Royal.
If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon in town, Front Royal’s quaint Downtown area is an excellent choice. Happy Creek Coffee, and Main Street’s Daily Grind are two of the town’s most popular coffee shops. If you’re not a coffee lover, The Vine and Leaf offers teas and fine wines. Peruse the shop or enjoy a beverage in the “sipping room.”
It’s also fun to take your time exploring Front Royal’s selection of unique shops. Royal Bookshop is a charming used bookstore that’s a walkable distance from Main Street. Arts and crafts lovers will have fun painting their own pottery at The Kiln Doctor. Or for an activity that has you in nature, but out of the sun, take a tour of Skyline Caverns.
For beer and wine lovers, Front Royal has plenty of opportunities for a relaxing afternoon or evening. On Main Street, try ViNoVa Tapas and Wine Bar or the Front Royal Brewing Company. Or take a drive into the country for an afternoon at one of several scenic wineries and breweries in the Front Royal area.
COVID-19 has led to many disappointments. It’s not easy to deal with the cancellation of a summer vacation. But a week of Front Royal staycation fun may be just what you need to lift your spirits.
Celebrating Spring was not the same here in Front Royal last year. Locals and tourists alike missed wandering through the spectacular Shenandoah National Park, taking in the stunning scenery and enduring rugged outdoor adventures. As a popular destination for weekenders in Warren County and nearby regions, drivers could travel the 105 mile road in about three hours. Those three hours did not account for the temptation to stop, look, picnic, play or simply explore so much of what is Skyline Drive.
But finally, the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive and all trails are now open. Everyone needs a change of scenery, especially after a year of confinement. If you only have one day to spare, consider a day trip from Front Royal to some amazing nearby destinations - small towns, wineries, challenging hiking trails, and gorgeous mountain landscapes—all within three hours of the entrance to Skyline Drive.
Soon rumbling motorcycles will come in from I-66 transporting cruise riders, the Harley riders and young-at-heart senior riders. Cars will park on the side while waiting for an order from Spelunker’s. We will see the magnificent landscape dotted with flowering dogwood, redbud, and wild plum trees. We will travel the trails artfully displaying colorful azaleas, pink-and-white mountain laurel and hundreds of wildflowers strewn on the forest’s floor.
Updated March 8, 2021
Now that the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and all trails are open, please recreate responsibly by following the guidelines below. Park facilities are beginning to open for the spring season. Please refer to our operating hours for more information on opening dates and hours for visitor centers, dining areas, lodges, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
When recreating, please follow local area health orders and recreate responsibly by keeping social distance, wearing a face covering when social distance cannot be maintained, avoiding high risk activities, and staying home if you feel sick.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all Park functions and recommend that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.
Be sure to plan. Before visiting Shenandoah National Park, plan to keep safe.
To help navigate the park, download the Park App, as well as the offline content, before arriving in the park.
Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website www.nps.gov/shen and social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/shenandoahnps/, https://twitter.com/ShenandoahNPS, and https://www.instagram.com/shenandoahnps/. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please visit www.goshenandoah.com for updates about park concessioner, Delaware North’s operations.
As the weather gets warmer and the dangers of the coronavirus are lessened, grab a picnic basket filled with your favorite foods. Do not forget the blanket, insect repellant and a few rain ponchos. Your day to tour Skyline Drive awaits.
It may have been a silent spring last year, but the roar of excited crowds and fragrance of nature’s beauty beckons you to take a must-take road trip this Spring.
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