Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

After my friend-venture week, Mike and I headed to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia! It was a perfect place to spend our first anniversary together! We were a little nervous to be there during Labor Day weekend and expected it to be crazy busy, but it turns out most people visit during October to look at the foliage.

Shenandoah is an extremely long and narrow park. It’s main road, Skyline Drive, is over 100 miles from North to South. We entered the park from the North entrance and stopped at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. We were right on time to make it for a Ranger led Appalachian History hike on Matthew’s Arm Trail. 105 miles of the Appalachian Trail go through this park. It was a wonderful hike where Ranger Matt explained how the AT and Shenandoah came to be. 

We then drove south on the Skyline Drive and stopped at a variety of overlooks that peaked our interest in the Northern section of the park. The park is separated into three main parts; North, Central, and South. There are over 70 overlooks along the drive, so you have plenty to choose from. It is very well marked with mile markers constantly along the way. We turned off and exited the park at Thornton Gap and spent the night in the small town of Luray. 

The next day, we headed back into Shenandoah in the middle of the park. We continued along the Skyline Drive and checked out some more overlooks. This park is extremely pet friendly so Mike and I decided to hike the Stony Man trail, Mary’s Rock trail, and the Overall Run Falls trail.  There are a handful of trails that pets are not allowed, including Old Rag. Old Rag is one of the most strenuous hikes here and is considered almost like a pilgrimage hike for many in the area. 

Since the weather was going to be nice and cool the next day, Mike and I decided that we would do the Old Rag hike the next day since Luca would be perfectly fine in the van. For the haters, our van has multiple fans and is insulated extremely well.

However…. the next day, we had van issues and ended our time at Shenandoah! Yayyyyyyy. Stay tuned for that fun adventure. 

Recommendations

  • Go on a Ranger program! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…. these programs are gems that you shouldn’t miss!
  • Make sure you get out of your car! While the Skyline Drive’s overlooks are nice, it doesn’t do justice for all the park offers.
  • This park is only 45 minutes from D.C! Get your nature and your history on!
  • Unless you’re going to stay a few days, or only do the Skyline Drive/overlooks, I’d recommend picking a section of the park and really exploring it. 
  • The trails are pretty well marked, but there are a LOT of them so definitely talk to a ranger and get maps for each trail you’re going to hike. 

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