The Rockfish River Valley, with its winding river and streams, mountains, hayfields, vineyards, small organic farms, galleries and country lifestyle is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations for tourists. An increasing number of people are moving to the valley to take advantage of the rural character and proximity to Charlottesville. This population growth is reflected in a growth rate of 10 percent per year which will mean 1,100 more people in the next ten years moving to the County, many of whom will likely choose to locate in the headwaters of the Rockfish River. The Rockfish River runs through the valley of the same name to the James River.
In the Wintergreen Mountain Village and along the Blue Ridge Parkway there are many scenic overlooks with awe-inspiring views of the Shenandoah Valley below. The Shenandoah Valley region of western Virginia and West Virginia is bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Appalachian and Allegheny Plateaus to the west. It is located within the Ridge and Valley region and is a portion of the Great Appalachian Valley. Named for the river which stretches much of its length, the Shenandoah Valley encompasses seven counties in Virginia. The word Shenandoah was derived from a Native American expression for 'Beautiful Daughter of the Stars.' The Valley Pike (or Valley Turnpike) began as a migratory trail for tribes such as the Delaware and Catawba and became the major thoroughfare of wagons and in time, motor vehicles. By the 20th century, the Valley Turnpike was a toll road, eventually being acquired by the Commonwealth of Virginia and becoming U.S. Highway 11. For much of the length, the newer Interstate 81 parallels the old Valley Pike. The Shenandoah Valley is a productive agricultural region. Despite the great promise of the rich farmland of the Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, crossed by Governor Alexander Spotswood's legendary Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition at Swift Run Gap in 1716, were a major obstacle to colonial expansion from the east. Instead, the Valley was first settled by German and then by Scots-Irish immigrants from Pennsylvania in the 1730s. The former were known as 'Shenandoah Deutsch.' Both stocks came south into the Valley from the Potomac River, in contrast to the largely English settlement of the Virginia Tidewater and Piedmont regions. The Shenandoah Valley was known as the breadbasket of the Confederacy during the American Civil War and as such, was major site of battle between Union and Confederate forces. It is also the location of the Shenandoah Valley American Viticultural Area.
The Blue Ridge Parkway — known as America's Favorite Drive — starts at Rockfish Gap and meanders 469 miles to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The Wintergreen Mountain Village sits beside the Parkway from mileposts 10-12. The parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain and provides some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, ranging from 650 to 6,000 feet in elevation. The Blue Ridge Parkway is history waiting to be discovered! Although the road is often seen primarily as a scenic byway with plenty of natural attractions, it is also a cross-section of Appalachian mountain history. Stretching almost 500 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains through North Carolina and Virginia, it encompasses some of the oldest settlements of both pre-historic and early European settlement. Visitors can trace much of the history of Appalachian culture by observing overlook signs, visitor center exhibits, restored historic structures, and developed areas, all of which reveal points of particular interest. People have lived in or visited these mountains for hundreds of years. Cabins, framed farm houses, grist mills, and an occasional elaborate vacation home have dotted the Blue Ridge landscape for generations. Some of these are open for visitors and offer the opportunity to learn and experience rural mountain life styles from the past.
The early European settlers of the Appalachian Mountains forged a living from the native materials so abundant around them. Hickory, chestnut, and oak trees provided nuts for food, logs for building, and tannin for curing hides, while the rocks were put to use as foundations and chimneys for the houses, and in stone fences to control wandering livestock. Many self-sufficient farms sprang up in the Humpback Mountain area. Today, visitors can tour a collection of Nineteenth Century farm buildings. The Mountain Farm Trail provides access to the cabin and various outbuildings. The area also houses a visitor center with new exhibits prepared for the spring 2000 opening, a picnic area, and trails. Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm - The trail around the farm is open year-round, but only during the summer months are the buildings open. Composed of structures relocated from nearby locations, this collection of buildings represents one type of mountain farm of the 19th century. During the summer months the area is staffed with costumed rangers who demonstrate mountain crafts and skills. Trails - At milepost 6.0, you have your choice of a short trail detailing the geology and flora of the area, a longer more strenuous hike up Humpback Mountain, and access to the Appalachian Trail. Or travel a little further to the Greenstone Parking Overlook for a self-guiding nature hike at milepost 8.8.
When you own property at Wintergreen, you get access not only to world-class amenities, but also to miles of hiking and biking trails on Wintergreen property. One of the many spectacular natural features you can access via trails is Shamokin Falls, where Stoney Creek plunges in three segments more than 500 feet from Laurel Springs through Shamokin Gorge into the Rockfish Valley below. Accessible by trail either from the end of VSH 151 (Old Stoney Creek Rd.) in the valley or from the end of Laurel Springs Rd. in the Mountain Village, Shamokin Falls is worth the hike. Although the trail is well marked, expect steep, rocky terrain. Dress accordingly, and travel with companions for safety.