By guest bloggers Jeremy & Stephanie Puglisi of RV Family Travel Atlas.
Because of the planned activities and exciting amenities at Jellystone Park Luray, a family could easily spend an awesome weekend there without leaving the property. But that would be a shame, because the magic and beauty of Shenandoah National Park are waiting just five miles away from the campground. Camping near Shenandoah National Park makes it easy and convenient to take in a great hike, experience the majesty of the mountains and scenery, and still make it back in time to partake in other great family activities at Luray Jellystone Park.
When you plan your next trip to Jellystone Park Luray make sure you set aside time to cruise along Skyline Drive, take in a hike or two, and share a family picnic at Big Meadows. Here is a suggested itinerary for a fun family day trip into the park. Who knows, you might just see a few bears and dozens of deer like we did!
Shenandoah National Park’s epic roadway, Skyline Drive, has 75 scenic overlooks and stretches for over 100 miles before it joins the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since you are camping at Jellystone Park Luray you will want to take route 211 into the park using the Thornton Gap Entrance Station. Once you are in the park, head south and take your time to enjoy the views. Also keep your eyes peeled for bear in the woods on the side of the road. They move faster than you think. The ever-changing beauty of the landscape might tempt you to put the radio on and drive all day, but we recommend that you park the car and take in a hike or two. Adventure waits around every corner.
At mile 41.7 pull over and park for the adventurous, but family-friendly, 1.6 mile circuit Stony Man Trail. The National Park Service designates this hike as “easiest” but the summit views of the Shenandoah Valley and the town of Luray are nothing short of spectacular. After all, this is the second highest peak in the park. Plan on bringing water and a snack to share at the summit, but we don’t recommend a picnic lunch here. The rocks at the summit are jagged and it can be crowded on a clear summer day. Don’t forget your camera.
After you’ve conquered Stony Man head south on Skyline Drive towards the Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadows. Watch a short film and take in an exhibit on the park ’s history before you visit the gift shop for a vintage park poster or magnet. After you’ve educated yourself and plunked down a few bucks for a souvenir you’ll be good and hungry for a picnic lunch. If you need to grab more cold drinks for your next short hike head into the well-stocked campstore. You may be tempted by the fudge counter on the left. Your call.
After lunch (and fudge?) burn off some calories with a casual and easy stroll on the Story of the Forest Trail, which begins across the street from the visitor center. Before you leave, grab a scavenger hunt booklet from one of the park rangers. Your kids will enjoy running from blue blaze to blue blaze, searching for large fungi and animal watering holes. Mom and Dad will enjoy learning the names of trees, finding out where witch hazel comes from, and discovering more about the works projects that developed the park. Whitetail Deer sightings are common on this trail, so keep your eyes wide open. We saw more than a few and spotting them was definitely the highlight of our walk.
When you’ve completed this 1.8 mile loop, drive north on Skyline Drive and back home to Jellystone Park. You may still be able to catch story time with Boo Boo. Or just head directly to the Cartoon Cafe for a well-deserved ice cream treat. We recommend the Moose Tracks!
Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of the podcast RV Family Travel Atlas, available in the iTunes Store, on Stitcher, and TuneIn Radio. You can read more about their adventures at www.rvfamilytravelatlas.com.