Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is a top destination on the US’s east coast for 3 seasons out of the year. From early spring to late fall, the park is filled to the brim with eager wilderness seekers looking to get close to nature, take some pretty photographs and maybe even see a bear or two!
Shenandoah also happens to be of the absolute best places in the country to see the fall foliage. People come from all over to make the pilgrimage down the park’s popular 105 mile-long Skyline Drive to see the dramatically changing leaves amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains. This year, I got to experience it for the first time during a late season camping trip. It was cold, but it definitely lived up to all of the hype.
Ah, the cold. While even the coldest fall draws a crowd, winter in Shenandoah is not so popular. Which (as I found out on one unseasonably warm January day) makes it the perfect season to visit and see this park in a new light. Here’s why…
1.) Less people means you will essentially have the park to yourself. Whether you choose to drive the length of Skyline Drive or prefer to hike in solitude, you should plan to spend most of your time in perfect isolation. Added bonus: You won’t have to jockey for prime photo taking spots.
2.) Colder weather = better visibility. There is essentially no haze to jeopardize your views of the valley, which provides the ideal setting for all of you photography lovers out there.
3.) No bears! They’re too busy sleeping so you can hike without fear that you’ll run across one of the furry critters.
4.) Sure, the leaves are beautiful, but less leaves = amazing views into the valley. You’ll be better able to see the definition of the mountains, which will provide a new perspective on the region.
5.) The freezing temperatures will result in lots of unique ice formations. From the permafrost on the ground to the dripping icicles you’ll drive by along Skyline Drive, you’ll be rewarded with lots of pretty ice activity.
So, go ahead and beat the winter doldrums! Get outside and have a fantastic winter adventure in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.