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Long Autumn Weekend at Shenandoah National Park


Our last National Park trip of 2022! This was the 4th an final National Park trip of the year for us. Buy an America the Beautiful Pass's worth every penny if you use it!

Shenandoah National Park -- North Entrance Sign
North entrance sign!

We chose Shenandoah because it was the closest national park to where we live in Pennsylvania. Front Royal, VA., near the north entrance of the park was only about a two hour drive away (like 2hr 15min) and Luray, which is where we stayed (near the middle of the park) was only about 2 hours and 45 minutes away from home. Not bad!

Blue Ridge Mountains of Shenandoah
Shenandoah has ridges! Definitely some fall colors still happening!

We intentionally chose the middle end of October to visit, because Shenandoah is known for its fall foliage and all of the leaf chasers doing their leaf peeping. We are now one of them I guess. It's hard to gauge when peak foliage will be since it's different every year, especially when you're booking lodging a month or even more in advance. I think we did well for ourselves though, even if foliage WAS slightly past peak when we visited! We missed peak by just a week or less!

Shenandoah National Park
This is all right off of Skyline Drive. Pretty cool!


We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Luray, VA. It wasn't our first choice because we wanted something INSIDE the National Park like Skyland or Big Meadows, but everything was already sold out (It goes FAST in the fall!). That was perfectly fine because the place we stayed was wonderful. This isn't an advertisement, but Piney Hill Bed and Breakfast rocks. The hosts were super friendly, made insanely good breakfast (ask for quiche!) and made us feel at home. They even left a slice of cake for us in our room on our last night there. Quite a nice treat after a long day of hiking! 

Bed and Breakfast Cats

The B&B even has some cats on the property. They aren't allowed in the house due to allergen reasons, which I totally understand because I'm allergic to cats (and still own and love them). They are well taken care of though and have a large area to play and a warm areas to rest around the property. 

Bed and Breakfast Cats
Here's another one basking in the late October sun!

Shenandoah National Park, located in Virginia's picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, offers a serene and diverse natural landscape. Covering about 199,224 acres (but who is counting really??), the park was established in 1935 and has since become a sought-after destination for those appreciating the quieter side of nature.

Shenandoah National Park Mountains
Mountain ridges for miles!


One of the park's most distinctive features is Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that winds along the mountain ridge. This drive provides a leisurely way to experience the park, with numerous overlooks offering views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont. The drive is particularly noteworthy in autumn when the forest canopy transforms into a rich tapestry of colors. Fall is definitely the best time to visit I think! We had three days here which was a decent amount of time to split the 100 mile Skyline Drive into thirds and do some hikes along each third. It was enough time to enjoy it and not feel rushed. 

Shenandoah National Park
Thanks for softening the light, cloud!

For hikers, Shenandoah is a haven with over 500 miles of trails. These range from simple, family-friendly walks to more demanding backcountry hikes. Notable trails include a portion of the Appalachian Trail, Old Rag Mountain known for its challenging rock scrambles, and the more tranquil Whiteoak Canyon. Each trail offers a unique perspective of the park's varied terrain and ecosystems.

Ridges and Valleys


Wildlife in Shenandoah is abundant, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts. The park is home to species like white-tailed deer, black bears, and numerous bird species, providing ample opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge Mountains in general have a high population of black bears so we tried our best to see them, but surprisingly saw none! From what I've read, whether you know it or not, you definitely were near a black bear. Dahh. Too bad. We did have deer jump out into the road at us though!

Bear Collision Area Shenandoah
So many bears! Slow down!

Shenandoah also caters to other outdoor activities like camping, picnicking, and fishing. With well-maintained facilities including campgrounds and visitor centers, the park is accessible to everyone from day-trippers to those seeking an extended stay in the wilderness. The Appalachian Trail cuts through the park as well. Maybe you'll run into some AT Thru-Hikers??

Dark Hollow Falls Trail Looking Away from the main falls
Dark Hollow Falls Trail Looking Away from the main falls

Shenandoah National Park offers a variety of trails to suit different interests and skill levels. Some of the best trails in the park, including the popular waterfall trail, are listed below:

Whiteoak Canyon Trail: This 9.5-mile round trip trail is known for its series of six beautiful waterfalls, making it the most popular waterfall trail in Shenandoah National Park. The hike can be challenging, with some steep sections, but the stunning cascades are worth the effort. You can choose to hike to the first few waterfalls for a shorter trip or complete the full trail for a more strenuous adventure.

Old Rag Mountain Trail: This 9-mile loop is considered one of the best hikes in the park and is known for its challenging rock scrambles and spectacular panoramic views at the summit. The trail is quite popular and can be crowded on weekends, so it's best to start early in the day.

Dark Hollow Falls Trail: A relatively short but steep 1.4-mile round trip hike takes you to the 70-foot Dark Hollow Falls. It's one of the closest waterfalls to Skyline Drive, making it a popular and easily accessible destination.

Dark Hollow Falls Trail
I actually think this may have been the Rose River Falls, but who is counting? We did both!


Stony Man Trail: This 1.6-mile loop offers breathtaking views with relatively little effort, making it perfect for families and casual hikers. The trail leads to the Stony Man summit, which is the second-highest peak in Shenandoah National Park.

Fall Foliage at Stoney Man


Bearfence Mountain Trail: A short but exciting 1.2-mile loop trail that features a rock scramble leading to a 360-degree view at the summit. The trail provides a fun and rewarding experience for those looking for a bit of adventure without an extended hike.

Bearfence DIPA
It's so popular they named a beer after it! I got this at...I believe the Skyland Lodge inside the park! It was silly cheap too. Thanks VA!

Hawksbill Mountain Trail: This 2.9-mile round trip hike takes you to the highest peak in Shenandoah National Park, standing at 4,051 feet. The trail offers stunning views from the summit, where you can find a stone observation platform.


Columnar Joints at Shenandoah
Some cool columnar joints at Shenandoah! Several trails have some cool views of these geological wonders!


Bridge Crossing Shenandoah NP
Bridge Crossing!


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