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Shenandoah. Fog.

That’s about all.

Okay, fine. So for my Christmas gift, Travis bought me tickets to Pixar in Concert in Richmond. Why Richmond? Mostly because I have a slight obsession with Pixar and the concert wasn’t traveling anywhere local so he selected a random location with a weekend concert date. The concert was excellent, by the way.

We flew out Friday evening and planned to return Sunday after the concert, so we decided to spend Saturday in Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah is located in part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Skyline Drive, the main road through the park, is 105 miles long with 76 scenic overlooks which boast views of the valley and Shenandoah River.

We originally had plans to wake at sunrise and tour all day Saturday, but after the flight, drive, and midnight arrival, we started to reconsider. Then we checked into the hotel and they told us about their free breakfast (“with bacon and everything”) and I knew it would be an uphill battle to get Travis up and checked out before sunrise. As I’m one to pick my battles, I decided we could sleep in (missing what was likely a foggy sunrise) and feed him bacon before we hit the road.

Ultimately, we thought this was a good decision as the weather was extremely unideal for anything other than moody fog photos for the entire weekend. It’s a downside to these weekend trips — we can plan all we want, but when we allot only one day for exploration it doesn’t give much room to readjust when the weather is poor.

We entered the park from the Thornton Gap Entrance Station (near north) and drove 30ish miles of park road to the north exit. We had a little fun with fog photos for a bit, but we were ultimately disappointed at the lack of visibility at any of the lookouts.

On our way out of the park, we finally hit an overlook where you could see something. We were so excited we spent quite awhile here taking photos of the moody sky and yellow flowers — we also weren’t sure if we’d see any other overlooks for the rest of the trip.

Afterwards, we decided to visit some local Virginia wineries at the north side of the park and wait to see if the weather changed (we were not optimistic).

After some wine and cheese sampling, we decided to migrate south through the park and hope for some visibility.

We were greeted by dense fog and more fog, lots of moody forest, and bears!

We saw several sets of momma & cubs — the first one was right on the side of the road (and we scared them away pretty quick). The second set was a bit further up the hill, and we created a bear jam taking photos from the car.

After the bears, we decided to head to our hotel for the evening. On the way out we found one other single lookout with visibility… and that’s it! The weather in the morning was equally dismal, so we decided to sleep in, enjoy another free breakfast (with less bacon) and drive to Richmond for the show.

We fully intend to revisit Shenandoah, either as another solo trip, or perhaps a combined trip traveling from the Great Smoky Mountains, up the Blue Ridge Parkway and to Shenandoah (3 coins!)

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