March 28, 2024

Charred Mountaintops

Massanutten Mountains and the Blue Ridge

A week ago, Virginia was hit with a number of fires on a very windy day. Some of these fires were started by power lines that collapsed when trees blew over on them. At least one fire was started by a vehicle accident. The news reported that in the region from Maryland through Virginia and West Virginia, there were over 100 fires! Although many were put out promptly, some continued to burn for days. In the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia, the fires were difficult to contain because much of the terrain is hard to reach, and our lovely wilderness areas had dry underbrush that fueled the fires.

Firefighters did a great job under difficult circumstances, and managed to protect most structures, although some homes were lost near Strasburg. No fatalities were reported because people evacuated ahead of the flames. Finally, heavy rain came through the area, helping the firefighters to get things under control.

Route 211, the main road from New Market to Luray, was closed to traffic for several days because of a wildfire that burned right up to the edge of it. On the other side of Page County, another fire burned in Shenandoah National Park, causing closure of a 10-mile section of Skyline Drive. 

The first picture shows a burned area along US 211 at the top of Massanutten Mountain. (The green sign marks the county line between Shenandoah County and Page County.) The road formed a fire break, and the firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to the other side, at least in most places.

The rest of today’s pictures are from Shenandoah National Park. They reopened the closed area yesterday, and I drove up today, although I knew it would be painful to see. The park is very special to me and I go there frequently. 

Along Skyline Drive, I found a one-mile stretch that showed severe burn damage. It was between mileposts 27 and 28. Although more of the park was burned, that was mostly in wilderness areas. Similar to what I saw on Route 211, the paved road had served as a firebreak, giving the crews a place to stop the spread of flames. 

The trailhead for Neighbor Mountain Trail was scorched right up to the parking lot. There was a strong smell of burnt wood. 

Just north of there is Jeremy’s Run Overlook. The pretty view is looking west. The foreground is blackened from the fire, although there is a strip of green grass next to the parking lot. The Appalachian Trail runs below here and was closed for almost a week. The park service checked the trails to make sure they were safe before reopening them.

The wayside and picnic area at Elk Wallow were not damaged. The final picture is from Little Devils Stairs Overlook, which was not touched by the fire.


There is so much that I could say, but I’m almost overwhelmed by sadness. I am not good at pretending that disaster is not upon us. I don’t like to use this blog to lecture, and my style is usually to present things and let them speak for themselves. But here we are, seeing the effects of climate change. And this is just the beginning.

On my Unreal Images blog. I made a post about Mother Nature. She may not be real, but there is a balance in nature that has been disturbed.


  1. You are right. That's right it's very sad.. Just seeing such a disaster makes you sad...

  2. Indian's rainforests had similar fires thanks to prolonged dry season. Many acres of vegetation lost. It takes years to restore the precious nature

  3. Hubby and I love Shenandoah Nat'l Park, it is place we love to visit and hike. I am just happy the fire did not do more damage , it could have been much worse. Any wildfire is scary, very sad to hear houses were burnt. Take care, enjoy your day and have a happy weekend.

  4. will be the new normal.

  5. We are reaping the harvest of our own folly. The only good thing I can add (probably a poor choice of words) is that it would be very interesting to continue to visit the area to monitor new growth and to observe the succession. Perhaps you will do that.

  6. So sad to hear and see all this loss. Habitat for many animals. Thanks for sharing some photos. I remember nearby fires in our mountain area too.

  7. Yep, climate change is a thing and it is having real results.

  8. How can anyone deny climate change? But they do, and we are destroying ourselves. Even the early spring we are enjoying now (and lack of snowfall for us) has been unsettling. I've seen burned acreage out west. It's heartbreaking to see it in Virginia. Alana

  9. Very sad. Even more so because we saw it coming and didn't act on it. And yes, this is just the beginning.

  10. I keep telling myself that I've got to get back to the Blue Ridge.


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