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Hit the Road: An outdoor adventure to Shenandoah National Park

A scenic view over Shenandoah National Park

Summertime brings out the bright greens of the Blue Ridge. | Photo via @shenandoahnps

Table of Contents

We’re kicking off our summer road trip series — Hit the Road — with an outdoor adventure-themed trip to Shenandoah National Park. With 93 named mountains, 311 sq miles of scenic trails, and 300+ species of native wildlife, this area is a great destination for experienced adventurers + novice nature seekers alike.

Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the area + our insider recommendations.

  • Drive time: ~1.5 hours
  • Avg. number of visitors: ~1.6 million in 2020
  • Avg. high temp in June: 72°
  • Entry price: $30/vehicle, $15/hiker, except these free days.

🥾Things to do

Skyline Drive, ~105 mi.

This major scenic highway connects drivers to 69 outrageous overlooks with majestic mountain views of the nearly 100-year-old national park. From Skyline, you can get to anything —hiking trails, horseback riding, rock climbing + wine tasting.

Dark Hollow Falls Trail, 1.4 mi.

This shorter out-and-back trail is described as “moderately challenging,” but delivers the great reward of the 70 ft Dark Hollow Falls. Pro tip: Leave the pups at home for this one, no dogs are allowed on this trail.

Old Rag Mountain, 9 mi.

The most popular hike of Shenandoah is no joke. Old Rag includes multiple rock scrambles + an exposed summit ~3,000 ft above sea level. Pro tip: This hike will take 7-8 hours, so bring water, snacks and most importantly, take breaks. We’ve been told by hiking-savvy readers that visitors to Old Rag need an advanced permit to hit the trail.

🍽️ Fuel up after hiking

A summer salad from West Main Market

A fresh summer salad can recharge any hiker’s energy. | Photo via @westmainmarket

Big Meadows Wayside, 51 Skyline Dr.

Grab-and-go or sit down for lunch at this convenient store + eatery . Hiking and camping gear is also sold in case you forgot a sleeping bag or backpack at home.

Rudy’s Diner, 418 N 5th St.

A local Luray favorite with American classics to fill up on after a day of hiking in the sun. It’s open from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. for brunch, lunch + dinner.

West Main Market, 123 W. Main St.

This full-service delicatessen and sandwich shop, also in Luray, is a hop, skip and a jump from the Shenandoah National Headquarters. Pro tip: If you’re looking for a pint, cross the street to find Hawksbill Brewing Company.

A cabin in Shenandoah National Park

Cabin rentals are also available through VRBO. | Photo courtesy of VRBO

🏕️ Cozy campsites + cabins

Mathews Arm Campground, Mile 22.1 Skyline Dr.

This site on the northern end of the park includes reservations for a tent, RV, a fire pit + a picnic table. It costs $30 to set up camp, and food service is just two miles away.

Lewis Mountain Cabins, Mile 57.5 Skyline Dr.

Choose your own adventure with either a higher-scale cabin with an indoor bathroom + electricity, or try a Hiker’s Cabin with two bunk beds, no heat or AC.

Loft Mountain Campground, Mile 79.5 Skyline Dr.

The largest campground in the park is located on top of Big Flat Mountain, with access to multiple trails with waterfalls in the nearby Big Run Wilderness area.

Stay tuned for the July installment of our Hit the Road series. We’ll be highlighting a 30-mile road trip.

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