At the end of October we went to Virginia to witness our friends, Tori and Nick, get married! It was such a neat thing, one, because Tori and I met on the internet, and two, because I’ve never really been to a non-mormon wedding. You can find pics and Tori here: #toriandnickpriceless . After the wedding we swung by Shenandoah National Park!
No matter what your map tells you, there are only FOUR entrances to Shenandoah and you can find them via their link. We didn’t check when we pulled up the map and ended up going about forty min in the wrong direction to a dead end.
As we’re learning, National Parks are not places you necessarily go to to find peace and quiet. There were a LOT of people in Shenandoah…and part of that may be because more people came to see fall colors and it was the weekend. But that made for some congested roads with cyclists and people standing in the road for the ‘gram. Here’s me hugging a tree: not for the gram, but because it’s a thing and my husband got photos lol. Note how we’re not in the middle of the road, and we still got a cool pic.
Because we got there later than we planned, the parking lots of for the hikes we wanted to do were full. And I mean like…people parked half a mile up the road instead…and I’m super weird about parking on the side of the road. Like, I don’t want to damage the vegetation I guess. So instead we drove around on Skyline Drive, found a shop that also seemed to be a place where Appalachian trail thru-hikers stopped—we probably could have found a trail to hike there, but I mostly go to the mountains to get a little break from people and there were SO many people around that I was like, hard pass. There are a LOT of overlooks, so even if you don’t hike you can still see how beautiful the valleys are.
Whenever we visit national parks I like to learn who lived there before, and the Shenandoah Valley was home to many Native nations—“Iroquois-also called the Six Nations, and Shawnee nations as well as the Catawba and Cherokee nations of the south and the Delaware and Susquehannock nations of the north.” (source) Shenandoah is still home to the Monacan Indian Nation. You can read their history here. They were finally given federal recognition as a tribe in 2018—read about that here.
Where to stay: We wanted to camp, but it didn’t work out—we were only in Virginia for 24 hrs and the campgrounds are first come first serve…and they fill up quickly!
Parking—get there early if you think you want to hike! The parking lots are small and on the weekend they fill up quickly!
Bathrooms—there were bathrooms at major checkpoints and they’ll be on the map!
When we visited: Third week of October
Sadly, the sign we found was in a terrible place for taking a photo in front of—it acted as a divider between two roads, so we don’t have a pic in front of the sign…but of course we have a million selfies anyway.
Remember that it costs money to get into the parks (usually $25 for a day pass, $35 ish for a 3-day pass), but you can buy a year-long pass for $80! We just did this at the first national park we went to.
other national parks:
(this list will get longer as time goes on haha. It’s our goal to visit all of the US national parks.)