Exciting Things To Do In Luray, VA.

finding adventure in Luray Virginia

By guest bloggers Jeremy & Stephanie Puglisi of RV Family Travel Atlas.

Jellystone Park Luray, in addition to having wonderful amenities and activities on site, is also located within ten minutes of some pretty fun family adventure opportunities. If you can manage to get your kids off of the bounce pad and out of the pool, we highly recommend the following local attractions.


LurayCaverns

Even though we had seen many pictures of these caverns, we were shocked at how truly spectacular it was to see them in person. Our five year olds kept saying how ‘awesome’ it was, and we couldn’t agree more.

The guided tour takes a little over an hour and covers just over a mile on paved walking paths. You can easily bring a stroller if you are willing to carry it down the flight of stairs at the very beginning and then back up again at the end. The tour includes lots of very interesting information, but also plenty of time to independently explore and appreciate the beauty of the caverns. We felt the pacing was perfect—we didn’t feel rushed at all, but it moved quickly enough to keep our young kids engaged.

Your admission ticket ($24 for adults/ $12 for youths/ free for 5 years and under) includes entrance to the Luray Valley Museum, the Car and Carriage Caravan, and Toy Town Junction. We did not feel like our kids had the attention span for these attractions after the guided tour of the caverns, but if your children are older, they might enjoy wandering through them.

Our boys did, however, LOVE the Rope Adventure Park, where you can get strapped into a harness and enjoy one of the three ropes courses available.

LurayCaverns

To be honest, this activity did not look like anything super exciting from a distance. It turned out to be a blast, though, with a lot of very engaging challenges and thrills. Max and Theo could have spent hours there, and we had to tear them away for lunch.

LurayCaverns

Bottom line? Worth the extra money ($9/ $7 under 48 inches) if you or your kids want to enjoy a wild jungle gym experience.

You can also enjoy the Garden Maze or the Gem Sluice for an additional fee. Although the value of these activities will depend on your children’s age and personal interests, we can say that everything at Luray Caverns was extremely clean, and the staff was friendly and efficient.

Luray Caverns is a huge area attraction and can get very crowded during peak travel times. The tours start at 9 am, and it is worth the effort to get there early. We waited only 10 minutes to start our tour, but as we were leaving, the lines were much longer. One of the employees also told us that it quiets down after 4:30 pm as well.

BearMountainZiplines

As you can tell, there are many fun things to do in Luray, Va. Another attraction is located right next door to Jellystone Park Luray. You can actually walk on a footpath from the campground to Bear Mountain Ziplines. This adventure course has only been open for a few seasons, but it is clearly a local gem. The staff is friendly and accommodating, willing to teach you how to get into your harness and recommend a good place for sandwiches.

The Mama Bear Zipline has seven zips that bring you through the woods and out across a wide open field. This is a good introductory course for those that have not tried zip lining before. The new Baby Bear High Ropes Course is a great challenge for younger kids, and at $20, this is an affordable and fun way for children to try zip lining in a safe and accessible environment.

BearMountainZiplines

The best part about Bear Mountain Ziplines was that it was a quick and low key way to experience this fun activity. Often times zip lining tours can take hours and require you to schedule at least a half day of your vacation around it, with long drives from the offices to the mountain courses. Since Bear Mountain is right next door to the campground, you can easily walk over, zip, and be back in an hour or so.

Hopefully next season Bear Mountain Ziplines will offer a discount for Jellystone Park campers. This would take this from a recommended activity to a “must do” for the family.

The area around Jellystone Park Luray is full of opportunities for adventure, and we already know that our next trip will include tubing, horseback riding, and kayaking. An amazing campground, a national park, and lots of fun things to do in Luray, VA? We will most certainly be back.

Bio

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of RV Family Travel Atlas, a podcast available in the iTunes Store. They spend over 40 nights a year in their RV, traveling with their three young boys Theo, Max, and Wes. You can read more about their adventures at www.rvfamilytravelatlas.com

Human Icicle Challenge Takes Winter Camping to the Extreme for a Good Cause

It’s not exactly the ideal family camping trip, but one group of brave souls will be taking last summer’s “ice bucket challenge” idea to a new extreme, with the same focus on raising awareness for a good cause.

According to a January 19 HTRNews.com article, four men from Manitowoc, WI will be going tent camping for 24 hours at the camp sites at Point Beach State Forest to raise money and awareness for homelessness.

Mark LeGreve, board president of homeless shelter The Haven, decided to take this self-dubbed “Human Icicle Challenge” with three of his friends after seeing the success of other creative fundraisers. Last year, the ice bucket challenge raised an unprecedented amount for ALS research.

While going tent camping for a 24-hour period during the dead of winter may sound like a novelty idea for some, it’s what the homeless have to live with every day, through rain, snow and freezing temperatures.

“There are people who do not have a place to stay who, no matter what the weather is, they worry about where to sleep,” LeGreve explained.

According to HTRNews.com, LeGreve and his friends will complete the Human Icicle Challenge from 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 to 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 1. The men are asking for members of the community to either join them or to give pledges and donations to The Haven, an eight-bed shelter for men.

Like many tent camping sites across the country, Point Beach State Forest is open to campers year-round, which not all people are usually aware of. So if you want to get a taste of the great outdoors this winter, there’s no better way to do it than to go camping for a weekend — just remember to stay warm and dry!
What are your thoughts on this story? Have any questions for us about going camping during the winter? Let us know what’s on your mind in the comments below!

Thinking of Camping This Spring or Summer? Start Planning Your Trips Now

Already thinking about camping in Colorado this spring or summer?

If so, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is urging people to plan their family camping trips early on to ensure that they can reserve a spot at one of Colorado’s highly-popular camp sites.

“Our most popular camping sites fill up six months in advance, so planning now could get vacationers a prime camping spot,” CPW Reservations Coordinator Mercedes Schwall said.

In recent years, camping has become an increasingly-popular activity for American families. About 3 million more people embarked on a camping excursion in 2012 than in 2010. This is especially true for Colorado, one of the best states in the country for experiencing the outdoors.

That’s because camping is one of the best ways for families to spend time around each other without everyday distractions. With a wide variety of things to do outside, from biking to hiking to observing wildlife, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy as well. Who knows — you or your kids could even end up discovering an outdoor activity that you end up enjoying for life!

Camping might even make you healthier, as one recent study from the University of Colorado at Boulder points out. The study found that individuals who spend a week being exposed only to natural light while camping in the Rocky Mountains saw improved syncing of their circadian clocks, the natural 24-hour rhythm of our sleeping and waking cycle. Artificial lighting, especially light from computer screens and televisions, is notorious for disrupting humans’ circadian clocks.

So to ensure that your family gets to take a camping trip this spring or summer, be sure to plan early — that way, you’ll be certain you have your space reserved rather than hoping for a space to open up.

Want more information on reserving a spot at Colorado’s camp sites? Feel free to ask us anything in the comments below.

The Only Checklist You’ll Ever Need While Packing for Your Camping Trip

Few activities offer more family bonding time and exciting outdoor recreation than going camping. That’s why more people are taking their families on camping trips than ever before! In fact, three million more Americans went on a camping excursion in 2012 than they did in 2010, a major increase in popularity.

But each year, countless families will arrive at their camping sites and make a horrifying discovery: they’ve forgotten to pack an important item, and now the camping trip is all but ruined!

Don’t be like these families — always arrive at your camping sites packed and prepared. To make sure you and your family are ready for anything during your family summer camping excursion, we’ve compiled this list of the most essential items to pack:

Accessories

    • Hiking boots

 

    • Sunglasses

 

    • A hat or bandanna

 

    • Backpack

Toiletries

    • Biodegradable soap

 

    • Antibacterial wipes

 

    • Deodorant

 

    • A hairbrush or comb

 

    • A first aid kit

 

    • Sunscreen

 

    • Prescriptions and medicine

 

    • Insect repellent

 

    • Shampoo and conditioner

 

    • Toilet paper

 

    • Toothbrush and toothpaste

 

    • Other various personal hygiene items

 

Clothing

 

    • A light jacket or sweater
    • A pair of gloves or mittens
    • Hiking socks
    • Long-sleeved and short-sleeved shirts
    • Underwear
    • A raincoat
    • Pants
    • Moisture-wicking socks and long underwear

Camping gear

    • A tent and related tent equipment
    • Camera and camera accessories
    • A collapsible water bottle
    • A lantern
    • Sleeping bag
    • Matches or a lighter

Food and cooking items

    • A small, portable stove
    • Cooking and eating utensils
    • Food, including plenty of snacks
    • Napkins and paper towels
    • Plates and cups
    • Plastic garbage bags

And for an even smoother camping experience, encourage the kids to pack their own bags — this lets them get involved in the packing process and also allows them to pack their favorite toys, books and other belongings!

Know of any other must-pack items to bring before leaving on a family camping trip? Share your own tips and tricks with us in the comments below!

New Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort to Open in Trinity, TX

We can’t wait to welcome our seventh Texas Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort this spring! The former Port Adventure RV park will become Jellystone Park™ on Lake Livingston in March.

Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Livingston, near the picturesque East Texas town of Trinity, the new park is just 80 miles north of Houston – a perfect weekend getaway to the tranquility of the water and the open countryside. The second largest lake in Texas, Lake Livingston offers 450 miles of shoreline and plenty of room for fishing, skiing, boating and more.

The park is in the midst of making many improvements to its already-welcome facility before it reopens as a member of the Jellystone Park™ family. Currently the park offers 53 RV campsites, waterfront cabins, cabanas, duplexes, and tent sites. A 6500 square-foot pavilion offers a great place for events and gatherings.

Guests will enjoy the swimming pool, paddle boats, miniature golf, badminton, volleyball, and basketball. A game room, ping pong, outdoor theater, and even karaoke round out the family-friendly amenities.

Located at 207 Port Blvd. in Trinity, the campground is taking reservations for spring. Call 936-594-1300.

Announcing Our 2104 Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resorts Award Winners

Every November, the Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resorts team gathers to recognize the very best of the best: parks in our family that have gone above and beyond during the previous camping year. We’re proud and excited to announce this year’s winners; stop in and tell their staff congratulations!

 

Camp-Resort of the Year: Caledonia, WI.

This is our very highest honor, given to the Camp-Resort whose facilities and operators exceed all Jellystone Park™ standards. The winner must achieve strong growth in business, implement sustained improvements, and be known as a leader in the camping industry. Way to go, Caledonia!

 

Entrepreneur of the Year: Canyon Lake, TX; Madison, FL; and Milford, Delaware.

The Entrepreneur of the Year award is presented to Camp-Resorts that showed a strong growth in business over the past year.

 

Operator of the Year 

Rick and Shelly Spear, Estes Park, CO 

Jackie Maguire, North Java, NY

This award recognizes individuals and teams directly responsible for the day-to-day operations of their Camp-Resort. The Spears and Jackie earned their accolades for excellence in management, improved ratings, and growth in business.

 

Maple Leaf Award

Kingston, Nova Scotia

The Maple Leaf Award goes to the Canadian park in recognition of

their strong commitment and dedication to the

Jellystone Park™ family and values.

 

Facility of the Year

Harrisville, PA; and Woodridge, NY

These two parks were recognized for making sustained improvements to their facilities. This includes adding features for guests, building new programs, and more.

 

Dan O’Connell Service Award 

Jim Leaming, Sturbridge, MA

The Dan O’Connell Service Award goes to one person in the

Jellystone Park™  system who has shown tremendous, long-time support and work to improve the campground industry. Jim Leaming’s ongoing leadership and commitment to teamwork made him the perfect choice.

 

Watch the Jellystone Park™ Journal for more on each of these winners in the coming months. In the meantime, be sure to tell them GREAT JOB!

Three Ways to Convince Your Friends to Go Camping With You This Winter

During the winter, tent, RV or cabin camping life can be an incredibly unique and rewarding experience. But that’s only if you don’t go it alone — camping by yourself in the winter isn’t fun for anyone involved.

The idea of camping in tents or cabins, however, isn’t something many people are thinking about doing during the winter months. That’s why you’re going to have to convince your friends to go camping with you if you want to experience the thrill of the great outdoors this season!

To get your friends on board for a wintertime camping trip, here are three great ways you can convince them:

Ask that crazy, risk-taking friend you have

We all have that friend — the one who lives on the thrill of taking risks and walking away from near-death experiences unscathed. We don’t know how they do it, but we do know that they’re almost always willing to go on a winter camping trip. With another person by your side, convincing your other, less-than-willing friends will become incredibly easy.

Get your friends on board by playing up the novelty

There’s no way you’ll convince anyone to go on a winter camping trip with you if you don’t make the experience sound like a life-changing novelty. Remind your friends that everything looks better covered in snow; that all their favorite trails will be completely empty; that the campsites will be pristine and trash-free during the off-season. Best of all? You get to wear snowshoes!

Take advantage of better campsites

During the summer, it’s almost impossible to secure a camping spot at the most in-demand sites. However, the winter opens up a much wider availability of much nicer camping spots, which can even include cabins with all the essentials and amenities if your friends aren’t interested in entering survival mode. When your friends know all that the outdoors has to offer during the winter, you’ll have no trouble getting a group together to experience it!

Want to know more about going cabin camping or RV camping this winter? Ask us anything in the comments below!

5 Camping Recipes That Are as Fun to Make as They Are to Eat

Getting away from the TV screens and video games that can dominate life at home can make camping a rewarding bonding experience for families. And since there’s cabin camping, RV camping and even yurt camping widely available now, tent camping isn’t the only option.

 

But even if you do decide on old-fashioned tent camping, you’re not limited to granola bars, sandwiches and hot dogs in terms of your camping cuisine. Using what’s provided in almost all camp sites — a dedicated fire ring and a picnic table — you can create a wide variety of tasty meals. Kids, especially, can enjoy trying out these campfire cooking and no-cook food prep methods (just be sure you provide adequate supervision around the fire):

  1. Breakfast: Ziploc Omelets

Especially in autumn and winter, a hot breakfast is the perfect way to start the morning in camping life. Beat some eggs in a large bowl, and then pour individual servings into quart-sized plastic bags. Each person can add cheese, veggies or sausage as desired. Boil some water over the fire and pop in the sealed bags for a few minutes, and each person will have a personalized omelet. Plus, the washing-up water will already be hot.

 

  1. Lunch: Walking Tacos

Since so many camp sites these days offer activities and amenities, you probably don’t want lunch to be a sit-down affair that takes up the whole afternoon. You can combine all the classic taco or taco salad ingredients in individual bags of corn chips, shake and eat right out of the bag.

 

  1. Snack: Ice Cream in a Bag

Heading into winter, ice cream might seem like a strange choice. But making this delicious snack is so fun that kids are sure to enjoy it in any season. Simply combine milk, sugar and vanilla in a quart-sized plastic bag and seal it tightly, place that bag into a gallon-size bag, and fill the outer bag with salt and ice. Five to eight minutes of rolling, shaking, massaging and tossing later, the inner bag will contain ice cream. If you think your kids might get rambunctious, consider double-bagging the ice cream mixture before placing in the outer bag.

 

  1. Dinner: Tin Foil Stew

This one is a camping classic. Use aluminum foil to create a bowl shape or packet (there’s big controversy among campers regarding the ideal folding method), and then fill with all the normal stew ingredients. Place the foil pouches in hot coals to cook, and in about an hour the beef will be cooked through and the veggies will be tender. Eat straight out of the foil to minimize cleanup.

 

  1. Dessert: Monkey Bread

This warm, gooey dessert is the perfect end to a night spent around the campfire. Simply tear off pieces of biscuit dough and shake in a plastic bag filled with cinnamon-sugar until well coated. Then, toss all the pieces into pre-heated Dutch oven. Put the oven in the coals (piling a few coals on top of the lid, as well), and wait about a half hour. Soon, the bread will be puffy and easily pulled apart into bite-sized pieces.

 

 

How else can you cook delicious meals in the comfort of simple camp sites? Share your recipe ideas in the comments!

Tips for Making the Perfect Pumpkin Pie

The pumpkin pie is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dessert tables across the United States. For many families, Thanksgiving (and occasionally Christmas) are the only times this tasty dish is served – and everyone wants to learn how to make Grandma’s family recipe taste just like hers, so they can pass the pumpkin pie tradition on to their own children and grandchildren.

How did the pumpkin pie because synonymous with our holiday of gratitude? No one really knows. Historians say the pumpkin is native to North America, and Native Americans likely cut the pulp into slices and roasted them over the fire. When European settlers arrived, they began exporting the big orange gourd. There, the French and the English prepared it as a dessert, but differently from the presentation we’re used to. They stuffed the whole pumpkin with apples, spices, sugar and even honey, and then baked it whole.

Here in the United States, recipes for pumpkin pie as we know it began showing up on Thanksgiving tables in the early 19th century. As a fall crop, pumpkins were likely considered a symbol of the autumn harvest and were plentiful; cooks of yesteryear were accustomed to making the most of what was available, so it’s no wonder they found a way to make delicious pumpkin pie.

If this is your first time making Grandma’s famous family recipe, or you just want to perfect your own pumpkin pie, here are a few easy tips to make it turn out just right.

Be careful not to over-beat the filling. Pumpkin pie is supposed to be thick and creamy; too much mixing will add air and thin out the texture.

Brush the pie crust with a slightly-beaten egg white and pre-bake it before filling it. This helps the crust stay flaky and crisp.

If you’re having a hard time getting the crust just right (it can be tricky), consider using a refrigerated pie crust. No one will know the difference – and we’ll never tell!

Buy an extra pie crust and use cookie cutters to cut it into festive shapes for the top – autumn leaves, pumpkins and so forth. It will look beautiful.

  • If you’re in a hurry, canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling will work. Or roast a sugar pumpkin and puree the insides.

Fold crushed toffee into whipped cream for a deliciously decadent pie topping.

Keep an eye on the pie while it’s in the oven. Overbaking leads to the pie “weeping,” which makes the crust soggy and creates cracks in the surface.

Keep the pie refrigerated until it’s ready to be served.

 

Happy baking!

Join Your Friends at Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resorts as We Give Thanks for a Great Year

No matter what’s going on in the world around us, there’s always lots to be grateful for. This year, as you prepare to celebrate the fourth Thursday in November (or Thanksgiving, as we like to call it), give some thought to spending this special holiday with your friends at a Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort! From potluck turkey dinners to football parties, campfires and family movies, there’s lots of fun to be had and memories to be made.

 

In Robert, Louisiana, Nov. 26-31 is full of celebration – Thanksgiving, Christmas and the park’s Anniversary Party Finale! Holiday activities start Wednesday, including the annual Golf Cart Poker Run Grand Prix Invitational. Their 37th annual Potluck Thanksgiving is set for Thursday, and Santa Claus will visit good little boys and girls on Saturday night. (Parents, bring a gift for Santa’s sack with your child’s name, age and cabin or site number.) After Santa heads back to the North Pole, it’s time to put Yogi Bear™,   Boo Boo™ and Cindy Bear™ into hibernation until next March.

 

Columbia, South Carolina, has long celebrated the venerated football rivalry between the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers. After a hearty Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday (guests bring dessert to share; the park provides the rest), it’s time to watch the big game on the big screen. Don’t forget to wear your team colors and get ready to cheer. There’s also plenty of fun to be had with crafts, hay rides, the jumping pillow, family movies, campfires, marshmallow roasts, and much more.

 

Down in Texas, you’ll find Canyon Lake’s 8th annual Turkey Day – a park-wide potluck dinner. The park provides the turkeys; guests bring two sides. Santa makes his first visit of the season, and don’t forget canned food to donate to the local food bank, or diapers for New Braunfels’ Options for Women. In Fredericksburg, TX, enjoy a potluck, games, crafts, family movies, a wine tasting, family Wii games, and and bonfire story-telling with Yogi Bear™.

 

Check with your favorite park to see if they have a Thanksgiving event planned, and no matter how you choose to celebrate, remember that the entire Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort family is thankful for YOU!v

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