In the valley below, Highway 211 snakes its way through the town of Luray and connects Thornton Gap, 1/2 mile to your left on Skyline Drive, with New Market Gap, the low point in distant Massanutten Mountain. Luray and Route 211 illustrate how mountain gaps have often determined townsite locations and travel routes.
Imagine yourself 300 years ago pushing west across Virginia's wilderness. Ahead, an imposing north-south wall of Blue Ridge Mountains blocks your path. Where do you cross? Like all travelers, you choose a low spot, or "gap," in the mountain wall. Now you look ahead again, there stands yet another wall. Your path across the intervening valley leads you to the next inviting gap. Over time, others follow and a gap-connecting travel route grows.
Towns like Luray often evolved near gaps as logical marketplaces where cross-mountain roads intersected north-south valley roads.
From Indian footpaths to modern highways, mountain gaps have controlled human movement and settlement.