Best Weekend Winter Getaway in Shenandoah National Park

By Ian-Spiegel Blum

Best Weekend Winter Getaway in Shenandoah National Park

The Shenandoah National Park is one of Virginia’s most prized treasures. Just over 75 miles from Washington D.C., nestled between the Blue Ridge mountains, the park is home to over 200,000 acres of protected lands, waterfalls, hiking trails, and wildlife. If you’re on the lookout for a winter getaway weekend in Virginia, you could do no better than exploring the Shenandoah.

Start your weekend off with a drive through Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is one of the most picturesque public roads in Virginia, running 105 miles along the Blue Ridge and through the park. Before entering for your weekend of camping, hiking, and wildlife watching, enjoy the wintery scene from the comfort of your vehicle. Feel free to stop at any of the 70 overlooks for better views.

Stop in at the Byrd Visitor Center

While most park facilities close for the winter months, the Byrd Visitor Center remains open on weekends throughout the season. We recommend stopping in to check up on the latest weather advisories, ask any last-minute questions, and pick up any books or supplies still needed.

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Head to your backcountry camping spot

Many campsites in the Shenandoah are closed during the winter, but the park is open and available to any who can muster backcountry camping. Before you head out, make sure you plan your route ahead of time. The park recommends calling a Ranger so you know exactly where your spot will be and what you’ll need for success. Rangers can be reached from Monday through Thursday at (540) 999-3500x3720.

Bundle up and go for a hike

Winter temperatures in Shenandoah National Park can range from 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit and even colder, so make sure to wear an extra sweater as you head out onto the trail. With over 500 miles of trails, you’ll never run out of options. Stay safe by bringing a map, marking your trail as you go, and making sure you have extra batteries for your flashlight and water. With proper preparation, you’re in for one of the most beautiful hikes of your life. 

Watch for winter wildlife

Shenandoah is home to hundreds of unique animal species, but you’ll have a better chance of seeing squirrels, turkeys, and other woodland animals during the winter. If you’re lucky, you might come across a few foxes and bobcats, too. Bird watchers look for nuthatches and woodpeckers. 

Licensed hunters, visit the nearby Rapidan Wildlife Management Area for hunting access

Hunting is prohibited inside the Shenandoah National Park itself, but several roads and trails connect the park to the nearby Rapidan Wildlife Management Area and private property where hunters can enjoy their sport. Make sure to read up on all of the latest regulations for the season. Fishing is available onsite, too.

Visit the Virginia Beer Museum

While you’re in the area, why not stop by the whimsical Virginia Beer Museum? Even those who normally aren’t museum-goers will find something to enjoy here. Learn about the history of Virginia’s beer and distilleries, including George Washington’s beer recipe and much more. 

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Stop in at the Skyline Caverns

While you’re enjoying the Shenandoah Valley’s exterior natural wonders, why not see what’s going on inside? According to their website, the Skyline Caverns is “one of the only places on Earth where rare Anthodites are displayed.” Go underground and see the amazing formations for yourself. 

Enjoy wine country at Glen Manor Vineyards

Near the Shenandoah National Park, Glen Manor Vineyards sits right in Virginia wine country. The land has been used as a vineyard for over one hundred years, earning the distinguished recognition of being a Century Farm by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Plan your visit ahead to sample their wines before heading out to dinner. 

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Partake in the finer things at Joe’s Steakhouse

Minutes away from Shenandoah National Park, Joe’s Steakhouse offers upscale dining: The perfect way to reacclimate yourself to life outside the park. Enjoy steak, seafood, or a dinner special while reflecting on the incredible weekend you just had. 

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