Pet-Friendly Road Trip | Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park

Destinations, U.S.A.

Inspired by the National Park Services’ Centennial, I decided to plan a pet-friendly overnight trip to Shenandoah National Park, located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. I had driven to and from Florida many times, and never once took the Blue Ridge Parkway, so it was about time that I see the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Only a 5.5 hour drive from Fairfield County, CT, I knew it would be totally do-able as an overnight.

Stamford CT to Shenandoah National Park

I’d plotted out our route and knew that we were going to enter the park at the northernmost entrance, the Front Royal Entrance, and drive south on Skyline Drive until we reached the Thornton Gap Entrance, where we’d exit the park and head to Harrisonburg, where we’d spend the night.

So with pups in tow, we loaded into Charles’ car and off we went!

Shenandoah National Park

<- Say cheese, Wellington! ->

Shenandoah National Park  National Park

<- Did you know the George Washington Bridge, built in 1927, was the country’s longest suspension bridge until the Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1933? ->

Shenandoah National Park

<- Are we there yet? ->

Shenandoah National Park

Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center, where we received advice from one of the Park Rangers about the best trails for small pups. (The Visitor’s Center – below – also offers gorgeous views, so I suggest stopping!)

Shenandoah National Park

Only a few trails do not allow dogs, mostly for the dogs’ safety. (They’re the most challenging, steep trails.) Since not all trails are marked, we had to pay close attention to the mile markers. “Some trails are easy to miss,” the Ranger said.

After missing the Mount Marshall Trailhead once (as expected…) we parked the car, strapped on the pups’ flea & tick collars and headed into the Shenandoah Valley wilderness!

Shenandoah National Park

DSC_0462 - Shenandoah National Park  2

Shenandoah National Park

The greenery in Shenandoah National Park is out of this world. I’m sure it was especially lush when we visited in May, as spring had just sprung, but still – the amount of trees and plants is amazing. You could tell it had come alive after a cold, dark winter.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Charles and I had anticipated that Wellington wouldn’t be able to do the whole hike, as he’s gotten a bit slower in his old age, so I went prepared with a doggie backpack. It’s hilarious; it’s literally like a Baby Bjorn for dogs.

He hung in there for about twenty minutes before going into the backpack – in his defense, the first twenty minutes were uphill. 😉

Shenandoah National Park

About thirty minutes into our hike on the Mount Marshall Trail, we came upon an incredible scenic lookout. We could see for miles and miles across the Shenandoah Valley.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

I know Wellie looks ridiculous in that backpack, but trust me that he was totally comfortable, and most importantly, it allowed him to still enjoy the adventure!

Throughout the hike, everywhere we turned was trees, trees, trees, like the heavens above had laid a green blanket over the land…

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

After a few more miles of trails, and a brief thunderstorm, we decided to call it a day. Charles graciously pulled double duty for a bit toward the end of the hike, as carrying both Wellie and my camera, uphill, got the best of me. #BestDogDad

Shenandoah National Park

We continued to motor through the park, stopping every so often to admire the views. Spectacular vistas were present from both sides of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Shenandoah National Park

A hilly and windy journey, it was a memorable drive! If you take a look in this photo, you can see the windy road in the distance.

Shenandoah National Park

As our Shenandoah National Park adventure was coming to an end, I found myself thinking about how blessed we were to be able to do an overnight trip to such a magnificent part of the U.S. Our National Parks Service is something to be treasured!

IMG_0792

<- Happy & exhausted pups! ->

Travel Tips:

If you are doing an overnight, Harrisburg, which is about a half hour’s drive from the Thornton Gap entrance/exit, offers a number of lodging and dining options. The closest town to James Madison University, it basically has every major chain you could think of.

We dined at Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, which offered delicious food and very friendly service. Don’t go to sleep without having ice cream from Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, though, it was to-die-for and just yards from our hotel!

Don’t forget water! Dogs get thirsty just like us, so make sure you have a portable container and bottled water handy during all road trips – especially ones that involve hikes!

Shenandoah National Park

Find more information about Shenandoah National Park here. Have you visited Shenandoah National Park? If so, I’d love to hear about your time there!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Susan Joyce
    July 22, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Such fun to see you two enjoying nature and to see your pooches are also having great adventures. xx

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