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Virginia is for lovers

by Olivia Balsinger

Virginia is for lovers–the state’s slogan reminds us of this constantly. But did you know that Virginia is also for adventurers, for those not intimidated to get their boots dirty and fill their soul with adrenaline? And there is no place where adventure is plentiful like the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, one of the most diverse and iconic landscapes in the United States. And with 50 percent of America’s population living within a day’s drive of Virginia, these mountains are easily accessible for a quick getaway into the fresh mountain air. For first-timers to Virginia beginning in Shenandoah National Park is essential.

The park, breathtaking in all seasons, is long and narrow, with the Shenandoah River and its broad valley to the west, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont to the east. Many visitors enjoy casting down Skyline Drive, which is the main park road, that gently curves through the park. And with almost 40% of the land area—79,579 acres —designated as wilderness and is protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, the countless wild animals native to the area enjoy freedom and space. It is not uncommon to spot a black bear, a white-tailed deer, or even a bobcat while hiking on one of the many winding trails. And this rustic feeling of being immersed in nature doesn’t end after a day in the forests. Nestled in the heart of the park are a variety of lodges that cater to all possible traveler’s desires. From the cozy Skyland Resort, spanning 27 acres and with its detached cabins sitting on the edge of the ridge to the six quite primitive cabins maintained by The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, each equipped with basics like mattresses, d cookware, and a pit toilet for the more intrepid traveler, there is something for everyone in the heart of Virginia’s mountain range.