Shenandoah National Park brings a flood of memories and warmth to my heart. Growing up in Virginia, whenever we had company stay for a few days, dad would often make a trip down to Luray Caverns and then head over into Shenandoah National Park to drive along part of the 105-mile long Sky Line Drive. Often us kids got to go with him. These trips down Sky Line Drive are some of my favorite memories.
Shenandoah National Park is home to the Blue Ridge Mountains
One thing I have always loved about the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park is the endless sea of blue that can be seen at certain times of the day.
Even when we lived in West Virginia, I could see the distant haze of rolling blue mountains. You can see where these beautiful mountains got their name.
Summer at Shenandoah National Park
Summertime is a great time to visit Shenandoah National Park. The trees are full of life and the camping is fabulous.
These photos were taken in July 2010. A thick, misty hazed rolled in making some views really difficult to see as well as to photograph. I, however, loved the mysterious aura it presented.
Sky Line Drive has to be my favorite part of the park, mostly likely because we frequented this section so often.
It has several turn outs and the vistas are spectacular.
Small children can easily get in and out of the car to stretch their legs without excessive hiking involved. That said, if you like to hike, Shenandoah National Park does not disappoint.
Fall at Shenandoah National Park
Since I grew up in Virginia, fall is, perhaps, the very best time of year to visit Shenandoah National Park due to the stunning display of fall leaves on all the trees.
We made this particular trip back in November 2016.
Being late in the season, a lot of the fall leaves had already fallen to the ground, however, the views and colors were still spectacular!
I took this trip with my parents and son, who was checking out a college campus in Virginia.
Driving down Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
Skyline Drive is filled with lots of turns and bends.
The speed limit is 35 mph, so you need to plan ahead if you want to drive the entire 105-mile stretch of Sky Line Drive.
It will take anywhere from 3-4 hours to drive all of Sky Line Drive. Don’t worry, there are several exits along the way if you need to get off early.
Some turnouts have interesting signs posted with facts about the history of the park.
Sky Line Drive provides breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Don’t you just love how the fall colors on the mountainside pop?
The fall leaves make Shenandoah National Park come alive and appear almost as if it is on fire.
Hiking in Shenandoah National Park
One attraction of Shenandoah National Park is the Appalachian Trail. According to Wikepedia, it is 2,200 miles long and goes directly through the park.
Thankfully the National Park Service has clearly labeled the different hiking paths.
Excellent hiking maps, guides and information can be found on the National Park Service website.
Use judgement and caution while hiking. My sister’s father-in-law hiked part of the Appalachian trail and found himself on a section all alone. He encountered a bear on the path. Thankfully he was able to scare it off by raising his hiking stick above his head and then yelling as loud as he could. He was lucky, though, and quickly headed back to his car.
Searching for Mile Marker 13
Part of this trip to Shenandoah National Park included fulfilling one of my mom’s dreams. If you have ever read Terry Brook’s book, “Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold,” then the end of Sky Line Drive will have a special place in your heart. My mom is a HUGE science fiction fan and always dreamed of driving to the very end of Sky Line Drive, exiting the park, and then stopping at Mile Marker 13 on highway 64. So, we did! Apparently this location is where the secret portal to the Magic Kingdom of Landover is located.
Unfortunately, we found the mile marker 13, followed the directions in the book as best we could, but never found the magic portal to Landover. The forest had no defined path and we didn’t have a map – only a description from a science fiction book. Maybe it’s hidden beneath one of these rocks?
Sorry, mom. At least we tried:) In spite of that, making memories like these are half the fun.
Dad sure loves you! (This above photograph was taken on another trip up into the Blue Ridge Mountains during October 2012)
Winter at Shenandoah National Park
Winter at Shenandoah National Park brings with it its own kind of beauty.
This particular trip to Shenandoah National Park is near and dear to my heart as it was the last one I took with my dad before moving to California.
We left on February 22, 2012 early in the morning and talked and drove until the sun set that day. It was just me, my dad, and my two oldest boys.
While most of the leaves were long gone, the clean air provided a vibrant home for lichen and other winter plants.
We also spotted a family of deer searching for food. Snow blanketed several sections of Sky Line Drive.
If planning a trip to Shenandoah National Park in the winter time, make sure to check the National Parks Service website for possible road closures.
After watching the sun set, dad and I decided it was time to head home.
And so I had to say goodbye to my beloved Shenandoah National Park and then to my dad a few days later. I’ve only seen my dad cry three times that I can remember (though I’m certain there were other times). The first time was when his father died. The second time I watched him cry as he told us kids about how he met my mom. The third time I remember my dad crying was when we both wept in each others’ arms just prior to me getting into a moving truck to move across country.
Thankfully modern day technology has provided us with airplanes and telephones so that this goodbye did not have to be my last goodbye.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the beauties of the seasons in Shenandoah National Park. Hopefully you will be able to visit one day.
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Click on the map below to download a map of Shenandoah National Park from the National Park Service Website: