Every year, my Papa and I make an effort to visit Shenandoah National Park during the Fall season. Luckily for us, it SO happened to be that the only weekend day we both had available to go was during Peak Fall leaves season! That all being said, we had a breathtakingly gorgeous experience driving through the national park’s major road to sightsee – Skyline Drive. It was all truly a DREAM come true!!
About Shenandoah National Park: Shenandoah National Park is a mountainous oasis just 75 miles away from Washington, DC in Virginia. It is home to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, which extend from North Carolina. This Virginia national park also includes a 101-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail. Skyline Drive, which Papa and I drove about 25 miles of from the Front Royal entrance to the Sperryville exit, runs approximately 105 miles both north and south along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Scenic views galore when driving through Skyline Drive, whether you go leaf peeping (like Papa and I!) in the Fall or want to take in ALL the gorgeous mountainous views. One of the most well-known hikes at Shenandoah National Park is Old Rag. There are ALSO several other hiking trails, many of which include gorgeous cascade waterfalls. For more information and to book a National Park Pass to visit, look no further than here: https://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm
I will be honest here for a second, it was PACKED when Papa and I arrived. We picked the prime day for leaf peeping yet the WORST day in terms of traffic and crowds. We actually had to wait about 1-2 hours in a longggg line full of cars just to get into the park. One of the biggest suggestions I have for visiting Shenandoah National Park is to book your pass to visit in advance (or purchase a National Park Pass if you’ll get your money’s worth!). Papa has a Senior Citizen National Park Pass, so we were able to bypass a good chunk of the lines of cars to get into the park. BUT, when we did get into the park, it was definitely worth the wait!
Personally, I am not a big fan of crowds. There were crowds everywhere when we drove Skyline Drive, but it was to be expected given the time that we chose to visit and the fact that it was a weekend. If crowds overwhelm you, then it is worthwhile choosing to visit during a less of a peak season or on a weekday to avoid them a bit. I will say, though, that simply being in the car with Papa and Rosie and stopping at the scenic views of our choosing was nice and a good way to simply space out.
Now, on a more positive note, the leaves were absolutely gorgeous!!! I LOVED getting to visit Shenandoah National Park during Peak leaves season. This is something I have ALWAYS wanted to do, yet never gotten the chance to given, well, life. So, through the crowds and traffic and all, I am so so so grateful that I was able to visit during this terrific time to do so. Pictures DO NOT do the roads and the sights of Skyline Drive ANY justice. Gratitude is the word, especially when taking in ALLL the views!
I feel super lucky to be able to live so close to such a great national park within an easy day’s reach. While I’m not a big hiker, I do love the mountains and the serenity that it brings me. I know others feel the same way, too, hiker or not. One day, I would LOVE to explore the cascade waterfalls via a bunny hike of Shenandoah National Park and more!
XOXO – Katie <3