Warren County is bordered by the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and Massanutten Mountain to the west. Although the forests of Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest cover much of the county, most of the parkland is characterized by rolling plains to the north and hilly to mountainous terrain elsewhere. Both forks of the Shenandoah River flow through the county and converge at Riverton, north of the county seat of Front Royal. Although the area was settled in the 1730s, Warren County was not formed from neighboring counties until 1836. One of Virginia's smallest counties, it was named in honor of General Joseph Warren of Massachusetts, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolution. The arrival of the Manassas Gap Railroad in the mid-1850s had a great impact on the growth of the county. Transportation and the area's agricultural wealth attracted manufacturing and business to Front Royal and most of the county's residents live in and around the town.
The area's economy increased with the creation of Shenandoah National Park and the opening in 1936 of the north entrance to the park at the terminus of the Skyline Drive, a scenic road that extends along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During the 1940s and 1950s motels, restaurants, gas stations, and other tourist-related businesses were constructed near the park's entrance and at the north end of Front Royal. Skyline Caverns (1939 opened; 10334 Stonewall Jackson Highway) and the facilities that provide recreational access to the Shenandoah River continue to attract visitors to the area.
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