We took a trip to Shenandoah National Park, one more check for our U.S. National Parks bucket list! We stayed in the nearby town of Luray, it is close to the park so driving back and forth didn’t take too much time. We visited the first week of October, on weekdays, the fall colors were just starting to appear and we experienced no crowds (weekends and summer months bring on more visitors). Pack layers if visiting in October, the mornings were chilly! Also keep in mind fall breaks for schools are often in October.
Also, take advantage of good weather! The first two days there, we had beautiful, sunny skies and the last two we were in the clouds. So when you have clear weather, stop at as many overlooks as you can and take the hikes with the best panoramas. Hiking the the fog is still fun, but you won’t be able to see anything at the viewpoints!
Here are ideas for what to do in and near Shenandoah National Park.
Take a Hike
We’ve already agreed to return to Shenandoah one day for the hiking! We chose trails that have easy ratings, since I carry our little one. The trails we did were Mary’s Rock South (from Meadow Spring Parking lot), Hawksbill Mountain (via Upper Hawksbill Trail), Stony Man, and Bearfence Mountain. These were all easy trails, around 2.6 miles and under, and all have fantastic views (or would have on clear days). Bearfence mountain has a rock scramble, but there is a non-rock scramble option as well, which is what we used. Two other easy trails that were on our list, but we didn’t have time to do, were Turk Mountain and Dark Hollow Falls.
Take a Drive
Spend an hour or two enjoying the vistas from Skyline Drive. There are plenty of overlooks, restrooms, and picnic areas throughout the park. If you plan to drive the whole road, allow several hours. We broke it up and did a small section each day after our hikes. Definitely plan to catch a sunrise or sunset while you’re there!
Explore the Nearby Luray Caverns
If you are looking for something fun to do indoors, check out Luray Caverns. There are several caverns near Shenandoah, but since we were staying in Luray, this is the one we went to, and it did not disappoint! This is a huge cavern to explore and the best part, stroller friendly! The walking tour is a little over 1 mile, but is paved so you can use strollers and wheelchairs in it. There are a few steep grades throughout. We had a lot of fun!
This area is rich in Civil War History. We visited a battlefield and Civil War Museum one afternoon. Another afternoon we spent at Belle Grove Plantation. You can tour the house and grounds. We happened to be there the week Belle Grove hosted the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association’s 2021 National Sheepdog Finals. Watching these sheepdogs work was one of the highlights of our trip, maybe because we were so surprised how much fun it was to see!
Until next time,