The Daughter of Stars Loop Scenic Drive, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is in the heart of the 200 mile Shenandoah Valley. This 42 mile drive will take you along the edge of the Shenandoah national park, from Front Royal Virginia, through Bentonville and Luray Virginia, and over to Interstate 81. The Daughter of the Stars Loop is one of Virginia’s official Birding and Wildlife Trails, and is full of wildlife.
Along the way are numerous sites to see, scenic views, river views, and recreational activities.
Daughter of the Stars Loop Drive Map
Daughter of the Stars Loop Walkthrough
The Daughter of the Stars Loop is aptly named for the Native American legend describing the creation of the Shenandoah River and Valley as the place where “the morning stars placed the brightest jewels from their crowns in the river.”
The drive can start from Front Royal Virginia, or from Exit 269 on Interstate 81, at Rude’s Hill Shenandoah River Park. We're going to walk you through, starting in Front Royal Virginia.
Front Royal Virginia
Your drive along the Daughter of the Stars Loop begins in Front Royal Virginia. Front Royal is a beautiful and popular town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and is also the end point for the beautiful Skyline drive.
From Front Royal, to start the Daughter of the Stars Loop, you'll take Highway 340 Southwest, towards Bentonville and Luray Virginia. Shortly after leaving Front Royal, you'll pass by the popular Skyline Caverns.
Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr./Shenandoah River State Park
Your next area of interest along the way is Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr./Shenandoah River State Park, just before reaching Bentonville. This park provides access to the Shenandoah River’s South Fork, and numerous wildlife viewing opportunities.
Bentonville is a very small town along the way, and serves more as a destination point along the way. There is a nice gas station here to re-fuel, and grab some snacks and drinks.
If you want to see the Shenandoah River a little more closely, or even cruise down the river, can can take a detour on Highway 613 from Bentonville to Bentonville Low Water bridge or Bentonville boat ramp.
Luray Virginia and the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway
Fairly new, the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway in Luray Virginia, offers excellent wildlife watching, and the Hawksbill Creek is easily accessible. The greenway features a number of walking trails, both along the creek, and through wooded areas. Wildlife is abundant here.
While in Luray, be sure to visit Luray Caverns, the largest caverns in the eastern United States.
Big Gem Park and Catherine Furnace
Big Gem Park is what remains of a large Pig Iron facility that was donated to the park service, once the iron boom died off. Catherine Furnace and Big Gem were part of the Shenandoah Iron Works. Big Gem Park contains a lake, and walking trails, and you can also visit nearby Catherine Furnace.
As with other areas along this scenic drive, Big Gem is full of wildlife, and in particular white-tail deer. If you enjoy fishing, the pond is a great spot!
To Reach Big Gem Park, take 340 out of Luray, south until you reach the park in about 12 miles. You'll have to return to Luray to continue on the loop drive.
From Luray, take 675, North West to Camp Roosevelt Recreation Area.
Camp Roosevelt was the original camp for the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), who built most of the recreation areas in Western Virginia and North Carolina, including much of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The recreation if full of history, beautiful scenery, and wildlife. You'll find picnic and camping facilities as well.
Rude’s Hill Shenandoah River Park
This River Park provides access to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, along with surrounding lands. The owners of the park have many plans for the park, including walking trails. If you are a bird lover, this is the park for you, with many different species to view, including Bald Eagles and Ospreys.
The park is a really nice place to enjoy nature, and spend some time in front of the water.
To complete the loop, follow the signs back to Interstate 81.