Only 75 miles away from the hustle and bustle of Washington DC is Shenandoah National Park. As well as many spectacular natural features and outstanding hikes, the park is also famous for it’s mountain drive, the Skyline Drive Scenic Highway.
There are lodges and campsites available within the National Park itself but we opted to stay in the small town of Luray. This allowed us to drive a third of the National Park on our way from Washington DC, explore the middle section and hike the next day and take in the caverns and final third on our way to Roanoke when we checked out.
The historic Skyline Drive passes 105-miles through the National Park along which you can take a variety of hikes. Driving along the winding road in early November allowed us to see the beautiful autumnal foliage but sadly we were not lucky enough to see any of the bears the park is famous for. We did hear that other visitors had been more fortunate so it is just pot luck whether you catch a glimpse or not.
We did one hike, up to Marys Rock. The trail is a 3.7-mile round trip and you climb up a mountain gaining 1,210 feet in elevation. This hike forms part of the Appalachian Trail, a public footpath over 2,180 miles long!
We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Luray. The house was located on the top of the hill overlooking the town, still walking distance of all the amenities. The town did have a number of restaurants and bars but there is a large Walmart should you wish to prepare your own meals.
As previously mentioned we did take the time to visit the caverns. The ornate rock structures, stalagmites and stalactites are really something to see. The tour guide was informative and tuneful; she liked to sing to demonstrate the caverns acoustic properties! It was really easy to walk around and despite being underground did not feel claustrophobic at all.
Here are a few of our favourite photos from our time in the National Park and the caverns: