On The Road
Borrowing the name from Jack Kerouac’s classic beat generation tale of travels across the country, intermittently we’ll post accounts about our life on the road. Whether you’re traveling by motorhome, fifth wheel, trailer, camper, van, or SUV, there is so much out there to explore, and we want to bring you the very best to consider for your next adventure. Read on for our most recent excursion to Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.
Shenandoah National Park
Centrally located north of Charlottesville and southwest of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park spans 195,000 acres across Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Dedicated in 1936 by President Franklin Roosevelt, the park offers spectacular panoramic views of the valley below along its famed Skyline Drive and 500 miles of trails, including parts of the Appalachian Trail.
There are four entrances to enter the park. From the north at Front Royal, near Waynesboro to the south, Thorton Gap (east of Luray), and Swift Run Gap (east of Elkton). The two visitor centers include Hary F. Byrd, Sr. Visitors Center near Big Meadows centrally located within the park. The other is Dickey Ridge Visitor Center located near Front Royal at the northernmost entrance. RVs and motorhomes are permitted but the park recommends they use a lower gear. Also, the park advises that the clearance for Marys Rock Tunnel is 12’8” so motorcoaches and larger RVs that cannot make that clearance are encouraged to stay in the southernmost or northernmost areas of the park.
The 105-mile-long Skyline Drive is a designated National Scenic Byway known for its breathtaking mountain top vistas, rows of stunning trees, and connectivity to many of the park’s trailheads. With over 75 overlooks along the way, there is no shortage of stunning mountain scenery. Great for fall foliage and leaf peeping, the spectacular blooms of early spring are also a sight to be seen. Skyline Drive is open year round although there is the occasional road closure due to inclement weather. It’s max elevation is 3,680 feet, just below Hawksbill Mountain which is the the highest summit peaking at 4,050 feet. To stay alert on all road closures, subscribe to Shenandoah’s alerts system.
Of the over 2,190 miles of public trail known as the Appalachian Trail, 101 miles of it passes through the park. Some of the trail traverses Skyline Drive. Hikers and backpackers are encouraged to plan their trip in advance and go only during designated hiking seasons. Check out the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association’s recommendations of popular hikes in and around the Appalachian Trail.
Where to stay
Shenandoah National Park offers five designated campgrounds that are open from early spring to late fall. Plan ahead and make your reservation up to six months in advance for most campsites. Lewis Mountain Campground is on a first-come, first-serve basis only. However, Big Meadows Campground sites are available by reservation only. For more park campground information, including regulations, availability, and reservations information, visit the Campgrounds page.
Before you go
Before you go, load up on all the RV care and maintenance accessories you’ll need. RVbyLIFE’s Life-Calk® polysulfide sealant and Life Seal® silicone/polyurethane sealant are two staples to have on hand for any quick on the road repair. The Stick scraping tool also comes in handy and works well with our Release Adhesive & Sealant Remover. Of course, no trip would be complete without a bottle of all-purpose sanitizer. Our Sanitizer for Hands and Surfaces is made with only Benzalkonium Chloride and ionized water, so it won’t leave an odor or irritate the skin on application. It also continues working on surfaces once dry unlike alcohol-based sanitizer. For all other RV repair and maintenance needs, visit our website for our full product catalog.
Make sure to check out our other travel tales to find your next RV travel destination. Happy RV travels!