Take the Nelson Scenic Loop as buds begin to bloom and light spring green begins to appear on tree branches. The Nelson Scenic Loop traverses both the lower foothills of the Piedmont as well as the summits of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s 50 miles long and is comprised of Route 151, Route 664, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Route 56.
Nelson County’s bounty of natural, cultural, and historic attractions are featured along the way. If you feel like hopping out of the car, hike the Appalachian Trail, visit Crabtree Falls, or stop at scenic overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Along the way, visit breweries, distilleries, and cideries and shop for antiques at Tuckahoe Antiques Mall, one of Nelson’s hidden shopping gems. Enjoy the views from the many local restaurants. Begin your loop journey at the Rockfish Valley Foundation’s Natural History Center on Route 151 in Wintergreen, VA.
Travel from Rt. 29-N to River Road (Rt 617) and enjoy the scenic views along the Rockfish River. Stop at Ike’s Grocery to pick up a snack and continue to the village of Schuyler. Tour The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler, one of Nelson’s most unique hidden wonders. The gardens utilize the vertical quarry wall to add to the aesthetic of the native plants and wildlife. Walton’s Mountain Museum and The Walton Hamner House are other interesting stops. If you’re too tired to drive home, spend the night in this Waltons theme community at the Hamner House B & B.
Nelson’s fall colors make for beautiful drives. Travel from Rt. 29 S to Rt. 56 West toward Massies Mill, following the Tye River. Ascend into the Blue Ridge Mountains, then stop at Crabtree Falls for a view or extended hike to the top. Continue the fun at Montebello: stop at the Montebello State Fish Hatchery (the kids can feed them while you’re there)! Enjoy the Montebello Country Store for lunch or a snack. Follow Rt. 56 to the Blue Ridge Parkway and turn north. Experience many scenic views of the Shenandoah Valley and east of the Blue Ridge, stop at 12 Ridges Vineyard or take a hike to Humpback Rocks. At Reid’s Gap, exit the BRP onto Rt. 664 and down to the Rockfish Valley and Rt. 151. Along the way, visit breweries, distilleries, cideries, farm markets, pumpkin patches, and more. Eat local food and enjoy the foliage views from one of the many local restaurants.
Nelson County’s portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway proves that Nelson is a Winter Wonderland. Enjoy a Blue Ridge Parkway drive in Nelson County. There are three entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the county. Entrance one is at Rockfish Gap on Afton Mountain (VA Scenic Byway Route 250 at I-64). Entrance two can be found at Reid’s Gap (VA Scenic Byway Route 664). Enter the Parkway via entrance three at Montebello (VA Scenic Byway Route 56). Enjoy the views of the mountains from the overlooks. Geologic formations are easier to see in the winter months when the leaves have fallen from the trees. If you need to stretch your legs, hike to Crabtree Falls by traveling to Milepost 27, then exiting onto VA 56 East. For a quicker stop, take Route 56 West to view the rushing waters of the Tye River as they cascade near Montebello.
Please remember to be careful when driving at higher elevations in the winter, as there may be slick spots on the roadways.