Virginia Safari.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, all parks run by the National Park Service are free from November 11-13. We thought this would be a perfect time to check out Shenandoah National Park, which is accessible via Skyline Drive about 30 minutes north of Charlottesville. Lucky for us, Skyline Drive was also free, so we packed a lunch and the dog, and snuck into the park. We entered at mile 60 [Skyline Drive runs 105 miles through Shenandoah] and headed South.

Basically, the way the park works is that you drive Skyline and pull off to lookout points, picnic areas, camping grounds and trail heads. We knew it was going to be a great afternoon when about a mile into the park we saw a black bear. AGH. Thankfully we were in the car, I’m not sure we’d win a fight with a black bear on the hiking trails.

We continued on down the Drive, stopping at a few lookout points, and finally paused at a picnic location that had a trail head. After lunch, we sped down the trail for about an hour [sped because Grady was so excited he actually ran… he never runs]. It was actually really cold on the mountains, there was even snow on the ground in places. Thankfully, I was bundled in 2X the North Face and gloves. Following the mini-hike, we continued down Skyline Drive, passing through the highest points and the lows [including Jarman’s Gap] to come out at the bottom on Route 250 and head back into Charlottesville. It’s perfect because you can drive it in a circle: 29 North to 33 West, then down Skyline Drive to 250 East.

It was a beautiful day, and one of those moments where I’m reminded why they’re called the Blue Ridge Mountains. They truly glowed blue in the sunset. I still like to call this a safari even though we only saw one bear, one dead snake, and some warblers. Enjoy the photos… we’re off to dinner at Mono Loco.

Driving Route 33.

Into the park.


you can sort of see him.

bear hugs.

view from an overlook.

he's tall enough to do this now.


hiking trail.


he made me RUN.

sunset on the blue ridge mountains.

















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Categories: C-Ville


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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