Erik Wesner of the Amish America blog listed his 7 most scenic Amish communities in a posting in December. Those are fun types of lists, so I thought I would share my list and we can see if any of our choices overlap. And this is a TOUGH list to compile because so many Amish communities - generally located in rural areas - are quite picturesque although maybe in different ways. For instance, the spartan, pastoral fields to the east of Berne, Indiana are actually quite pretty. Still, it lacks the dramatic vistas and sweeping beauty of other places so I didn't include it. So without further ado, here is my list:
1. St. Ignatius, Montana: This is the only Amish community that I've been to where one is afforded breath-taking vistas of towering, snowcapped mountains. Rexford, Montana made the top of Erik's list and while it is amazingly pretty there, the settlement itself is tucked away in such a deep valley that it's difficult to get many eye-popping vistas. The bishop's house there is located high up on a mountain and only once you get there do you get some sweeping vistas. I'll post some photos some time from his house.
2. Adams County, Ohio: Okay, I'll admit that sentimentality does come into play here. I have a long history with this community. But the rocky, hard-scrabble hills that locals sometimes call the "Little Smokies" is such a dramatic departure from flat, dull western Ohio that one feels as if they've plunged into a different state once they hit the Adams County line. Charming lanes meander through the valleys, dotted with covered bridges and home-based Amish businesses.
3. Pearisburg, Virginia: It was tough to rank this as #3, it could have easily taken the #2 slot. This settlement is just gorgeous, perched at the base of Walker Mountain. To me this community bears an amazing resemblance to Rexford, Montana, except the vistas of the mountains here are more generous.
4. Holmes County, Ohio: No list of beautiful Amish communities would be complete without Holmes County on the list. The emerald colored hills are rich with color and character and dotted with small towns that are majority Amish. And a warren of tiny roads un-spool like gray threads haphazardly across the county. This makes every trip here an adventure if you just get off the main highways and onto the back-roads and explore. I'm never disappointed when I do.
5. Pinecraft, Florida: Okay, this is cheating a little since it's not a 100 percent Amish community, but where else can you visit an Amish community while standing on the sugar-white sands and clear waters of the Gulf?
6. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: This is the other "overlap" on the list with Erik. There's just no denying the postcard panoramas of this heavily visited Amish area. I doubt so many people would visit if it weren't so pretty.
7. Conewango Valley, New York: This is a rustic, rural area of steep hills, dramatic valleys, and lush sugar maple forests. The horses here are muscular from pulling buggies, it's probably the hilliest Amish settlement I have visited.
HONORABLE MENTION: If Dayton, Virginia were an Amish settlement, it would probably rank #2. But it's not, it's an Old Order Mennonite community. But this Plain community spreads out across the rolling floor of the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, offering gorgeous views of mountains in all directions. And the "mole hill", the extinct nub of an ancient volcano rises in the middle of the Mennonite settlement, offering a view within in a view. Amazing. Above is a photo I took from the molehill looking down upon Mennonite dairy farms that dot the valley floor.