Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is hands down one of the most beautiful national parks we’ve been to!! The colors of the trees during fall is something everyone should experience once in their lives!!



We made it to Virginia!! We naturally found the closest Walmart once we got into Virginia and set up home for the night. In the morning, we went into Shenandoah National Park. We entered in on the most southern part of the park and made our way up Skyline Drive. Skyline drive is just what you would expect it to be from the name. It’s a road that goes north/south through the entire national park, and it’s located on the ridgeline. There are tons and tons of viewpoints throughout the drive, so we had to pick and choose which ones to stop at to view the beautiful painted mountains around us.



After driving for about 30 miles, we stopped at the Loft Mountain Ranger Station to pick up our backcountry camping permit. Little did we know, there are permit stations scattered around the park where you fill out your own permit with as much information as possible and simply drop it in a drop box. We couldn’t decide where to camp at and wanted some information about the hikes we were hoping to do, so we made our way up to Byrd Visitor Center to get all the ins and outs of the trails.


We decided to camp out down near Rapidan Camp. This was a camp where President Hoover and his wife would escape to for weekend getaways. We toured the camp then walked down by a creek and found a place to call home for the night. We ended up finding the most perfect place! Completely hidden from everything with a peaceful creek running about 15 yards away from us. We set up our tent, chairs, and rope for hanging our bags, then relaxed with a nice bottle of wine, dinner, and astronaut ice cream for dessert. After dinner, we hung our bags so the bears couldn’t get them, or at least made the best attempt at this, then climbed in the tent with the rest of the wine and sat and chatted while finishing the bottle.



Remember the creek that was running right next to our camp, well hello.. perfect shower spot!! Don’t worry… there were no lookouts for people to see us from this time!! We showered packed up camp and headed back up the trail to drive to our next hike of the day.



Backtrack to when we told Chris we were heading into Shenandoah… he was like a child telling their parents they heard Santa’s reindeer on the roof Christmas morning when he told us we had to hike Old Rag. Okay now fast forward back to making our way back to the car.. We headed back and looked at our map for how to get to Old Rag. You have to leave the national park, drive through this super cute little town, then on the back roads for a while, and get the sense that you’re lost before finding the Old Rag entrance. We packed up tuna, avocado, crackers, and granola bars for lunch and made our way up the trail… or so we thought. The parking lot is literally a mile away from the trail, so in the beginning of the hike you walk a mile up a driveway before reaching the trailhead. We got going on the trail, and although it was super pretty, we were confused at why Chris was so excited about us doing this hike. As we got closer and closer to the top of the hike, we were climbing into a huge cloud. We decided to stop and have lunch on some rocks before getting into the cloud where we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view.



After lunch, we almost turned around to get to Chris and Madison’s house before it got too late. Thankfully we decided to keep going up the mountain to see what all the hype was about. And holy cow.. we were so glad we did! Once you get out of the trees, the hike is a scramble up and down, over and under, across and through huge boulders. It was about an hour of climbing and jumping through these huge rocks before getting to the top! It didn’t seem like a hike at all. It was fantastic!! We had so, so, so much fun scrambling through the boulders. Once we got to the top we were completely engulfed in a cloud; we couldn’t even see 100 feet in front of us. It was crazy, and although we didn’t get the amazing view from the top we had such a fun time! Definitely a hike we would recommend anyone that goes to Shenandoah National Park to do!



We made our way back down the mountain and got on the road to head to Chris and Madison’s place in Alexandria, Virginia. Little did we know we would have absolutely no service for about the first 45 minutes of this drive, so we rummaged through the park maps we had in the car and guessed which roads to take to make it to Alexandria. After second guessing ourselves on a few routes, we finally made it!


{Traveler’s Tip… Don’t get stuck without service like us! Check out this free map app here!} 



Become a part of the ArboursAbroad Family! Receive our newsletter along with freebies (like our budget guide) straight to your inbox!
Here's where we tell you your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else... but seriously, who does that anyways? Don't worry about a thing 🙂

5 thoughts on “Shenandoah National Park

  • Pingback: Joshua Tree NP
  • Thanks for your quick reply!! I won’t be graduating until next spring! So I can wait for the blog post!! Have so much fun!!

  • Hey guys!!
    Looks like you are having so much fun! My boyfriend Todd and I just bought a van and after I graduate we are planning to drive around the nation. I am inspired that you guys are doing the same! I was just wondering how you chose to budget for the trip? Looking ahead we are wondering what arrangements we should begin to make! Thank you for your help! Cheers to you guys!

    • Oh my!!! We’re so happy that you two are getting to travel this country too!! There are so many beautiful places here!! When are you taking off?? We end the road trip portion of our adventure next week, and we will be blogging with real numbers, how to budget, what to bring, and how to do accommodations cheaply/free while traveling across the country. So that blog will give you a good idea on how we did it. If you need it earlier, we are more than willing to email back and forth with you about it!! Let us know 🙂 we will say though… Having the van is a great start!! 🙂

      Heather and Jason

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: