s/y Nine of Cups
Shenandoah National Park - Virginia
August 2012
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Shenandoah National Park was established in
1935. It encompasses 300 sq mi of the Blue
Ridge Mountains, rising above the Virginia
Piedmont to the east and the Shenandoah
Valley to the west.

More than 1100 flowering plants, 100 trees
and 330 species of animals thrive in the park.
This park is home to the largest concentration
of black bear in the USA.

Skyline Drive, the park's scenic byway, runs
the entire length of the park and follows the
crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105
miles. It offers 75 scenic overlooks and vista
points.  At its southern end, it joins the Blue
Ridge Parkway which stretches nearly 470
miles to Great Smoky Mountains NP.
Lonely Planet
We entered Shenandoah NP on the
north end at Royal Gap. Despite it
being the height of the summer season,
it was not very crowded and we took
our time driving along Skyline Drive,
stopping at overlooks and taking in the
views despite some very foggy
mornings and hazy afternoons.
The Skyline Drive is a narrow mountain road and wildflowers grow profusely on its shoulders. Butterflies were everywhere. We saw more here in just a few minutes than we'd
ever seen outside of a commercial butterfly pavilion. It was incredible. From left, spicebush swallowtail, eastern tiger swallowtail, white cabbage, great spangled fritillary.
We stopped at nearly every one of the turnoffs. There was always something to see: tremendous views when it was clear; creeping fog in the mornings.
There are lots of birds and critters around during the day, and although we'd hoped to see one of the many bears that roam the area,
we did not. That's a blue-tailed skink to the left and an eastern chipmunk. Mr.Turtle was just sitting on the side of the road
contemplating life. Virginia day flowers were lovely.
President Herbert Hoover's Rapidian Camp has been
restored within the park. Also known as the "summer white
house", the Hoovers found quiet refuge here from the turmoil
of Washington.
The Byrd Visitor Center at Big
Meadows had an interesting
interactive exhibit entitled "Within a
Day's Drive of Millions", which tells
the story of the park's establishment
and development.
Iron Mike represents a tribute to
the thousands of CCC (Civilian
Conservation Corps) who worked
in the park between 1933-42
constructing, among other things,
Skyline Drive and its overlooks.
Stone mile markers provided a good
reference point on the map so we
didn't miss anything.
Located at the highest point in the
park (3,680'), Skyland Resort offers
Blackberry Ice Cream Pie, its
signature dessert.. How could we
resist? No lunch...just pie.
We didn't see as many birds as we'd hoped, but then we didn't spend
enough time looking. Easily seen, goldfinch and eastern bluebird.
Next up ... we'll continue along the Blue
Ridge Parkway to
Great Smoky
Mountains National Park, the most
visited national park in the USA.