I’m grateful for friends like Jason and Heather, who were just crazy enough to join me in heading out to the mountains in February. Spoiler: it was really cold.
We had originally intended to camp in Shenandoah National Park. All three of us being originally from out of state and relatively new to the area, none of us knew that SNP actually closes its campgrounds in the winter. So there we were at the Swift Run Gap entrance station on US-33 staring dumbfounded at the CLOSED signs on the campground status board.
With light fading and temperatures dropping, we looked at a map and made a few calls and settled on pushing further west into the Shenandoah River Valley to a state park off of US-340 that none of us had ever been to, Shenandoah River State Park. Given the cold, we quickly discarded the original plan of multiple tents — body heat was declared a communal commodity in a single tent dogpile.
Though starker without the lush green leaves of the warmer months, the valley was still beautiful. We did some hikes, ran some trails, and were quite grateful for the free hot showers (excellent for thawing out).
Afterward, one the way home, we explored nearby Luray Caverns (might do a post just for that, pretty awesome photos) and some wineries off of US-3.