Road Trip: Shenandoah National Park

We just got back from three nights in the Shenandoah National Park, home of the famous Skyline Drive, and the second oldest national park on the east coast (Acadia is the oldest).  We went out there years ago for a hike or two but never to stay. In fact, I always thought camping was the only option and I am not a camper. But my sister-in-law did some research and found the Skyland Resort - real rooms with showers and even air conditioning!  I was sold. You can see the resort in this picture nestled into the side of the mountain.

It did cross my mind that there might not be enough to do for a 5 year old and a 2 year old since there is no swimming at the resort (you have to go to Luray) but I figured we could always bring games and toys and the kids would be fine. I was also determined to be as electronics-free as possible. I left my blackberry in the car the entire time!!  Of course having my brother-in-law and his family (including his 3 awesome kids) along  was probably enough entertainment! Fortunately it all worked out just fine.

We did 3 great hikes using the book Shenandoah Scavenger Hike Adventures. Can't say enough good things about this book if you are hiking with kids - or even without. We learned so much about the history of the park, the views, and wildlife. I love that we'll be able to grow with the book and do some of the longer hikes when my kids get older. I loved that each of the hikes we did had a destination. We did the 2 highest peaks - Hawksbill and Stony Man.

We hiked to Rapidan Camp which was built by President Hoover in 1929. President Hoover was an avid fisherman and outdoor enthusiast. The Park still maintains several of the original buildings. Here we are in front of the Brown House that the Hoovers built for their own use.

Perhaps the best part is that it is 15-20 degrees cooler there than in Washington DC. So it was 104 here in DC last weekend and it was only in the mid to upper 80s in the Park!

Shenandoah is only 2 hours from Washington, D.C. so it's an easy weekend trip. There are a few side trips you can make including Luray Caverns, Arrowhead Lake (swimming and fishing), and the Shenandoah River (tubing, kayaking, etc.). We visited Luray Caverns on Saturday before heading into the Park. Definitely worth a couple of hours!

And of course, it's hard to get over the awesome sunsets!

We'll definitely be going back and we've already told a bunch of friends to go - it's hard to beat the convenience!

I recently caught the travel bug again. Perhaps spurred by Alex turning 2 and being generally a really easy kid, and Elizabeth being 5 and absolutely awesome to be around (not biased at all though!).  I have a whole bunch of trips in the works so stayed tuned!!