Shh! Shenandoah Valley is Calling
This is a guest post by Trekalong intern Robyn Campbell.
The Shenandoah Valley has captivated the hearts of millions of people over the years. Its peaceful and scenic parks, trails, and waterfalls draw people from all over the United States. No matter your outdoor interest, Shenandoah is calling you.
“While many campers make their pilgrimage to Shenandoah National Park in the fall when colors are at their most varied and brightest, May represents the peak time for wildflowers in the meadow,” says Randy Porter, author of Best Tent Camping: Virginia (Menasha Ridge Press).
The Shenandoah River State Park is one of the best campgrounds for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, as well as best for equestrians. It features private, spacious campsites for tent-campers only. The riverside sites are great for solitude and a little bit of quiet, since they are only accessible by canoe or walking.
Big Meadows Campground is another great site for tent camping. As Shenandoah National Park’s largest treeless area, it offers scenic vistas, waterfalls, and hiking trails for varied ages and ability levels. It features 27 sites that are spacious and separated by foliage for privacy. You will find various specious of blueberry plants, as well as wildlife like white-tailed deer, grouse, meadowlarks, foxes, and skunks.
“There is no ribbon of highway more ideal for cycling than the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway,” say Elizabeth and Charlie Skinner, authors of Bicycling the Blue Ridge.
The Skinners’ describe Skyline Drive as “a cyclist’s dream road”, because it is great for racing, touring, and recreational cycling. The Drive, running the length of the Shenandoah National Park (total of 105.5 miles), runs through the national forest lands for a very scenic route.
On the Drive, you could encounter a variety of animals, including white-tailed deer, black bears, bobcats, beavers, groundhogs, skunks, and foxes. You could also spot some of the 200 species of birds that fly through the park, including wild turkeys and ruffed grouse.
Prefer spotting plants? You could see a variety of trees, including oak, hickory, black locust, hemlock, yellow and black birch, basswood, tulip poplar, and red and sugar maple.
The Skyline Drive features a host of facilities to keep you happy and ready to go adventuring. In the 105 miles of the Drive, you could visit two lodges, four restaurants, four camp stores, and four campgrounds (all but one have showers).
Whether it is October or May, Western Virginia offers a peaceful retreat for anyone wanting to exchange the sounds of a bustling city with those of nature.
Photo: Overlooking Shenandoah Valley/ForestWander
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From the storied coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay to the majestic mountains of the Appalachians in the west and the Shenandoah Valley in between, the Old Dominion provides a spectacular backdrop for some of the most scenic campgrounds in the country. Hundreds of miles of trails and rivers lace the countryside around these forest hideaways, opening the door to endless adventure. In Best Tent Camping: Virginia (3rd ed., Menasha Ridge Press), outdoors writer and enthusiast Randy Porter has compiled the most up-to-date research–in the region he knows so well–to steer you straight to the safe and scenic treasure spot you had in mind.
Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are arguably the two most quintessential scenic roads east of the Mississippi. This 575-mile strip of continuous road flows between Front Royal, Virginia, and Cherokee, North Carolina; traverses Shenandoah National Park; and connects to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the eastern rampart of the Appalachian Mountains. Bicycling the Blue Ridge (5th ed., Menasha Ridge Press) is the definitive guide to this ribbon of highway and is ready to help you plan the perfect trip, whether you are out for the day or for a month.