U.S. Route 50 in Virginia

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U.S. Route 50

US 50 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by VDOT
Length85.96 mi[1][2] (138.34 km)
Major junctions
West end US 50 at West Virginia border near Capon Bridge, WV
Major intersections
East end I-66 / US 50 at Washington, D.C. border in Arlington
CountryUnited States
CountiesFrederick, City of Winchester, Clarke, Fauquier, Loudoun, Fairfax, City of Fairfax, Arlington
Highway system
SR 49 SR 51

U.S. Route 50 (US 50) is a transcontinental highway which stretches from Ocean City, Maryland to West Sacramento, California. In the U.S. state of Virginia, US 50 extends 86 miles (138 km) from the border with Washington, D.C. at a Potomac River crossing at Rosslyn in Arlington County to the West Virginia state line near Gore in Frederick County.


US 50, also known in modern times for most of its mileage in Virginia as the John Mosby Highway and for a part as Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway, is steeped in history as a travelway. Native Americans first created it as they followed seasonally migrating game from the Potomac River to the Shenandoah Valley. As English colonists expanded westward in the late 17th and 18th centuries, the Indian trail gradually became a more clearly defined roadway. First on horseback, and then in stage coaches and wagons, in colonial times, travelers from the ports of Alexandria and Georgetown (then in Maryland) followed it to Winchester at the lower end of the Shenandoah Valley for trade. Along the way, small settlements sprang up which provided lodging and provisions for travelers and trade centers for local farmers.

During the American Civil War, the roads which became US 50 were an important travelway for troops, and were the site of significant battles and skirmishes. Among these, the Battle of Chantilly, the Battle of Aldie, as well as Arlington National Cemetery were all located close by.

During the 19th century, the Virginia Board of Public Works encouraged and helped finance internal transportation improvements such as canals, turnpikes, and some of the earlier railroads. In 1806, the Little River Turnpike opened 34 miles (55 km) of macadamized "paved" road from Alexandria to Aldie and the Ashby's Gap Turnpike was formed in 1810 to operate a toll road westward to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Ashby's Gap. The Winchester and Berry's Ferry Turnpike extended from the Ashby's Gap to Winchester.

In 1922, these three privately owned turnpikes were taken over by the Commonwealth of Virginia and became State Route 36. Then in November 1926 the route became part of US Route 50 as designated in the United States Numbered Highway System. At Winchester, the northern end of the Valley Pike, another historic trail, turnpike and toll road pathway steeped in history, intersected US 50 and several other important older roads. (The Valley Pike ran up the Shenandoah Valley southward and was operated in its later years by future Virginia governor and U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd before it too was acquired by the state and became U.S. Route 11).

US Route 50 was one of the major east–west transcontinental highways in the grid system of the lower 48 states planned in the 1920s as a successor to the National Auto Trails System. It extended from San Francisco, California to Annapolis, Maryland (later extended to Ocean City, Maryland). Route 50 crosses Virginia near the state's northern borders with Maryland and West Virginia. The east–west major routes in the 1920s national grid system were those with two digit numbers ending with a zero (i.e. US 10, US 20, etc.). Virginia's other east–west highway of this type is US 60, which extends in modern times from Virginia Beach across the middle section of the state to exit west of Covington.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors voted to rename the section of US 50 within Loudoun County from John Mosby Highway to Little River Turnpike on December 7, 2021. This is in an effort to restore historical names and remove segregationist and Confederate symbols throughout the county.[3] The segment of US 50 within Fairfax County west of US 29 was renamed from Lee Jackson Memorial Highway to Route 50 on July 5, 2023. [4]

Route description

The eastern two-thirds of US 50 in Virginia is substantially paralleled by Interstate 66, although the newer highway gradually diverges to the south after their Fairfax interchange to Front Royal and meets Interstate 81 at Strasburg, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Winchester, where US 50 meets I-81.

Frederick County and Winchester

U.S. Route 50 enters the state from the West Virginia border, descending from the Appalachian Mountains in Frederick County, the most northern Virginia county, and carrying the name of Northwest Turnpike. It is on a winding, two lane road until it passes the former lumbering town of Gore, at which point it widens to a four-lane highway. It eventually crosses State Route 37 and enters the independent city of Winchester.

Winchester was long the transportation hub of the lower Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Today, US 50 meets Interstate 81 there, as well as US 11, US 522, and State Route 7. U.S. Route 17 joins US 50 here from its national northern terminus as the route exits the city to the east and crosses the Shenandoah River.

Paris, Ashby Gap, Clarke County

After crossing the Shenandoah River, the divided four-laned roadway which serves as combined U.S. Routes 17 and 50 ascends into Clarke County and crosses US 340 close to Boyce, a few miles south of Berryville, the county seat.

Just west of Paris, the highway crosses a ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains at a place known as Ashby Gap. Named for Thomas Ashby, this wind gap was a strategic point for both sides in the American Civil War because whichever side controlled the Gap also controlled access to the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley from the east. In those days before modern communications, Ashbys Gap was also an important location for the military Signal Corps to send and receive visual communications. A few miles west of Upperville, U.S. Route 17 finally separates from US 50 at Paris.

View east along US 50 at SR 629 in Stoke, Loudoun County

Fauquier and Loudoun counties

West of Fairfax County, US 50 in Virginia is generally known as the John Mosby Highway. During the American Civil War, Colonel John Singleton Mosby was a Confederate partisan who operated with great success in this region, gaining status as a local folk-hero. The roadway reaches the Town of Upperville, straddles a county line and dipping into Loudoun County along the way. It then passes into the northern edge of Fauquier County.

Upon entering Loudoun County, US 50 exits the Blue Ridge Mountains and enters the Piedmont region. The highway passes across the southeastern portion through the Town of Middleburg, and the communities of Aldie (birthplace of Stonewall Jackson's mother, Julia Beckwith Neale), Gilberts Corner, Arcola, and South Riding. Near Gilberts Corner, it has an intersection with US 15. Starting in Aldie, the highway becomes a 17-mile straightaway until it intersects US 29 in Fairfax City.

Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, Arlington County

View east along US 50 from SR 28 in Chantilly

Continuing east from the border with Loudoun County, US 50, Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway, travels along the historic Little River Turnpike route. It passes by the southern edge of Washington Dulles International Airport and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and through the communities of Chantilly and Fair Oaks.

Shortly after entering the independent city of Fairfax, US 50 leaves the Little River Turnpike route (which continues as Virginia State Route 236) and joins a concurrency with US 29 as Fairfax Boulevard (a new designation, concurrent with the old names Main Street, Lee Highway, and Arlington Boulevard). US 29 splits from US 50 again just before exiting the City of Fairfax.

From this point east into eastern Fairfax County and Arlington County, US 50 is known as Arlington Boulevard. The roadway travels roughly across the center of both counties. In Arlington, it serves as the dividing line for addresses in the county. Finally, the route passes near Rosslyn, a high-density business area of Arlington on its trek toward the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, where it exits Virginia and passes into Washington, D.C. concurrent with Interstate 66.

Major intersections

US 50 west – Romney
Continuation into West Virginia
SR 259 south (Carpers Pike) – Wardensville
Northern terminus of SR 259
Hayfield8.0112.89 SR 600 (Hayfield Road) – Gainesboro, Mountain Falls
11.4018.35 SR 608 (Wardensville Grade) – Mount Williams

SR 37 to I-81 / US 11 / US 522 north – Martinsburg, Berkeley Springs, Roanoke
City of Winchester16.3026.23

US 11 north / US 522 north / US 17 south (South Cameron Street)
Western end of US 11 / US 522 / US 17 concurrency; northern terminus of US 17
US 11 south (Gerrard Street) – Winchester Historic District
Eastern end of US 11 concurrency
Frederick17.8928.79 I-81 – Martinsburg, RoanokeI-81 exit 313
US 522 south (Front Royal Pike) – Winchester Regional Airport, Front Royal
Eastern end of US 522 concurrency
ClarkeWaterloo25.1240.43 US 340 (Lord Fairfax Highway) – Berryville, White Post, Front Royal, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive
SR 255 north (Bishop Meade Road) / SR 624 (Red Gate Road) – Millwood
Southern terminus of SR 255
31.6350.90 SR 606 (Mount Carmel Road)Former SR 276 north

US 17 south to I-66 – Warrenton, Sky Meadows State Park
Eastern end of US 17 concurrency
Upperville37.8560.91 SR 712 (Delaplane Grade Road) – Delaplane
42.7768.83 SR 611 (St. Louis Road) – Purcellville
LoudounMiddleburg46.1474.26 SR 626 (Plains Road) – The Plains
Aldie50.8381.80 SR 734 (Snickersville Pike) – Philomont, Bluemont
Gilberts Corner52.5384.54
US 15 (James Monroe Highway) to I-66 – Leesburg, Warrenton
Howsers Branch Drive to US 15
South Riding58.7594.55 SR 606 (Loudoun County Parkway) – Herndon
FairfaxPleasant Valley61.6899.26 SR 609 (Pleasant Valley Road)
Chantilly63.57102.31 SR 28 – Dulles Airport, CentrevilleInterchange
64.06103.09 SR 657 (Centreville Road / Walney Road)
65.13104.82 SR 645 (Lees Corner Road)Western end of SR 645 concurrency
65.59105.56 SR 645 (Stringfellow Road)Eastern end of SR 645 concurrency
GreenbriarFair Oaks line66.94107.73
SR 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) to I-66
Fair Oaks68.05109.52 SR 608 (West Ox Road)Interchange
Fair Oaks Shopping CenterInterchange; no westbound entrance
I-66 to I-495 – Washington, Gainesville, Front Royal
I-66 exit 57A/B

SR 665 (Waples Mill Road) to SR 123 south – Virginia International University, George Mason University
City of Fairfax70.00112.65

US 29 south (Lee Highway) / SR 236 east (Main Street) – Old Town Fairfax
Western end of US 29 concurrency, western terminus of SR 236
SR 123 (Chain Bridge Road) to I-66 – Old Town Fairfax, George Mason University

US 29 / SR 237 north (Lee Highway) to I-66 / Old Lee Highway
Fairfax Circle (traffic circle with cut-through); eastern end of US 29 concurrency, western end of SR 237 concurrency

SR 237 south (Pickett Road) to SR 236 east / SR 655 (Blake Lane)
Eastern end of SR 237 concurrency
FairfaxWoodburnMerrifield line75.83122.04

SR 650 (Gallows Road) to I-495 Express – Merrifield
Interchange; serves Inova Fairfax Hospital
West Falls Church tripoint
I-495 (Capital Beltway) to I-66 – Tysons Corner, Richmond
Interchange; exits 50A-B on I-495
West Falls ChurchAnnandale line76.57123.23

Fairview Park Drive to I-495 Express south / US 29 (Lee Highway)
Interchange; signed for I-495 westbound and US 29 eastbound
West Falls Church78.71126.67 SR 649 (Annandale Road) – Falls Church, Annandale
Seven Corners79.73128.31
SR 7 to SR 338 – Falls Church, Alexandria
Interchange; also serves SR 613 and East Falls Church station
ArlingtonArlington81.32130.87Carlin Springs RoadInterchange
82.50132.77George Mason Drive – NFATCInterchange
82.85133.33 SR 120 (Glebe Road) – BallstonInterchange

SR 27 east (Washington Boulevard) to I-395 – Clarendon, Pentagon
Interchange; western terminus of SR 27
10th Street North (SR 237 south) / North Courthouse Road / Fairfax DriveInterchange; eastern terminus of SR 237
Rosslyn85.00136.79North Rhodes Street / North Rolfe Street / North Queen Street / 14th Street / Fairfax DriveInterchange; no westbound entrance
85.40137.44North Lynn Street – Key Bridge, Rosslyn, Fort MyerInterchange; also serves North Meade Street
85.60137.76Memorial Bridge / George Washington Parkway south – Arlington CemeteryInterchange; eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Potomac River85.96138.34

US 50 east to I-66 east (Theodore Roosevelt Bridge) – Washington
Continuation into the District of Columbia
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b "2011 Traffic Data". Virginia Department of Transportation. 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  2. ^ Google (January 25, 2013). "U.S. Route 50 in Virginia" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  3. ^ "Renaming Route 7 and Route 50". Loudoun County, Virginia official website. December 7, 2021. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  4. ^ "Lee and Lee Jackson Memorial Highways Renamed Route 29 and Route 50". Fairfax County Government. Retrieved January 15, 2024.

External links

U.S. Route 50
Previous state:
West Virginia
Virginia Next state:
District of Columbia
SR 35 Two‑digit State Routes
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