We visited Shenandoah National Park over Memorial Day weekend. We went into the trip with no expectations. We didn't talk to anyone that had visited and were just open to explore a little bit. We rented a house just south of the park and planned on taking Skyline Drive from the northern entrance all the way through the park on our first day. Even if you only have a half day, taking this drive is a must do.
After exploring as many of the 51 overlooks as we could and getting up close & personal with some of the parks residents, we plotted out our hikes for the following day. Make sure to get up and go early because parking can be a bit of an issue - especially on some of the more popular hikes.
Blackrock Summit is an easy loop leading to a west facing view of the mountains. You'll find quite a few people on the trails, but the summit has lots of angles and it's easy to get photos and take a few minutes enjoying the quiet beauty. Click here for the NPS map of the hike.
Our second hike of the day was more challenging and less busy. We wanted a hike with a east facing view, so we chose Hightop Mountain Hike. This is a longer loop with more elevation, but the view and the quiet trails are worth every drop of sweat. There is a small parking area for this hike, but we had no problem finding a spot - it's definitely a lesser known hike in the park.
There are 2 vistas at the top. The first is beautiful, but then you get to the second and it's breathtaking.
We spent the rest of the day enjoying a giant meal and then exploring some caverns in a neighboring town. I'm already figuring out how we can work in another trip to this beautiful park in the near future.
Things you shouldn't miss:
101 miles of the Appalachian Trail (plus another 400+ miles of hiking trails)
Sunset or sunrise - both can be seen from any of the vistas and they are hard to beat
Exploring nearby cideries, breweries and wineries