Just Traveling Thru

Shenandoah National Park

This was a stop on our Blue Ridge Adventure route. We stopped at our cabin at Lake Anna, VA on the way here, but a stay at Shenandoah National Park had always been a part of this trip plan. We had reservations at Big Meadows Lodge and we were planning on doing several hikes in the vicinity of the lodge. The Big Meadows Lodge area is a great starting point for many hikes, including the popular Dark Hollow Falls trail, which takes hikers on a picturesque route to the waterfall. Another favorite is the Stony Man Trail, which leads to the second-highest peak in the park and offers panoramic views of the surrounding valleys.

Interesting Facts about Shenandoah National Park

 How large is Shenandoah National Park?
Created in 1926, it is 311.2 square miles (199,200 acres).

 Elevation extremes in Shenandoah National Park
Hawksbill Mountain at 4,050 feet is the highest elevation and the park reaches 561 feet near the north end of Skyline Drive.

 What is the climate in the park?
Summers are warm and humid, the winters are very cold and snowy, and it is partly cloudy year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 26°F to 86°F and is rarely below 12°F or above 93°F.

 What is the annual visitation in the park?
Over a million people enter Shenandoah National Park’s gates each year.

 Where to Hike in the Park?
Along Skyline Drive, there are hiking trails for all fitness levels, abilities, and interests. Click here to go to the All Trails Website page for Shenandoah National Park trails.

 What is the cost to enter the park?
A single vehicle pass currently costs $30. A lifetime "Senior Pass" can be obtained from the National Park Service for $80, this pass covers your vehicle and your spouse's entrance fees as well.

Exploring Shenandoah National Park   Map

The following is not in "actual chronological order", as we first went to our cabin at Lake Anna, VA and then drove up to Big Meadows. But this is such a great area to hike in, so we decided to stay overnight in one of their pet friendly cabins.

If you are considering visiting & hiking the Skyline Drive/Shenandoah Valley area, we highly recommend this book. Click the image to view it on Amazon.com. You will find that it has a good set of information about hiking trails, maps, trail descriptions, etc.

Or you could consider using either the All Trails Website for their extensive information about hiking in the park, or you could go to the National Park Service Shenandoah page where they provide maps and general information about hiking in the park.

The Shenandoah Valley from one of the many scenic overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was taken on the way to Big Meadows Lodge. The entire parkway is a series of beautiful vistas looking into the valleys below, with dozens of hiking trails traversing the park, including the Appalachian Trail.

Click here to go to their website where there is a good list of their accommodations & facilities and how to make a reservation.
Bears on the Lewis Trail

We decided to hike the Lewis Falls Trail, because it was not yet check-in time for the lodge. We had not gone very far down the trail, came around a corner and there was a bear. He did not pay us much attention, as he crossed the trail in front of us and went into the woods looking for food. It obviously stopped us dead in our tracks and we debated whether or not to continue further along the trail, as it appeared that the bear was going in the same direction as we were! We finally realized that the bear had moved off into the trees away from the trail, so we continued to hike.

Lewis Falls

This is a loop trail (out & back) of approximately 3.3 miles in distance, with an elevation gain of 990 feet. This makes the trail "moderate" but continously steep. Pets are allowed as long as they are on leash, cleanup after your pets!.

The Lewis Falls Trail brings you down to an observation area where the Falls are just below you. It may not look like it, but the Falls are over 80 feet in height. It was a warm day and even though we were sure that a dip in the water would have felt great, we could not see a safe way to descend down to the bottom of the falls.

On the way back from the Falls, we stopped to take some pics. Our dog Maggie is having a great time exploring, and you can see that this part of the trail is not difficult. She does not let us get far away, she seems to recognize that this is not her backyard!

We had let our dog climb most of the trail off leash, but because we were now approaching the area where we had seen the bear earlier, we decided that it would be best to keep her on leash until we got back to the lodge. Quadripeds have a serious advantage when it comes climbing a steep trail like this one.

Big Meadows Lodge

By the time we got back to the Lodge, it was time to check-in. I decided to kick back in the area in front of the lodge, with our dog, while Celeste went in to get the cabin keys.

These views are from our rental cabin exterior. Rustic & small, but perfect for what we needed. After seeing the bears earlier, we kept expecting to hear one during the night !

The lodge features comfortable rooms and cabins that blend seamlessly with the park's natural beauty. Guests can unwind in front of crackling fireplaces or enjoy breathtaking views from their private balconies. Nature enthusiasts will find endless opportunities for outdoor exploration, with hiking trails leading to cascading waterfalls and panoramic overlooks.

In addition to its stunning location, Big Meadows Lodge offers a range of amenities to enhance guests' experiences. The on-site restaurant serves delicious regional cuisine, highlighting local flavors and ingredients. A gift shop allows visitors to take home souvenirs and mementos of their unforgettable stay.

Scenes around the Park
Useful Links
  • Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
  • Our Shenandoah National Park Image Gallery
  • 15 Must-Do Hikes in Shenandoah National Park’s Central District on the "Go Hike Virginia" site
  • Shenandoah National Park on the "National Park Service" site
  • Shenandoah National Park Site on the "Visit Shenandoah" site
  • VRBO Search Results list for rentals near Shenandoah National Park
  • Google Search Results list for accommodations near Shenandoah National Park
  • Lodging near Shenandoah National Park on the "Expedia" site
  • Big Meadows Lodge on the "National Park Service" site
  • Visit our Youtube Channel
Blue Ridge Adventure Destinations List
Trip Overview
Amicalola State Park, GA
Tallulah Falls State Park
Catawba State Park
Chimney Rock State Park
Shenandoah National Park
Lake Anna, VA


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