Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer escape to Big Meadows

Shenandoah National Park ... this black bear crossed the Skyline Drive in front of us on Friday, stopped to look, and then disappeared into the underbrush. I only had time to snap one quick blurry photo through the windshield. The speed limit is 35 ... the Park requests that drivers observe it because a record number of bear cubs, deer, and other wildlife have been killed by vehicles.

We had decided to take advantage of the cooler temps and low humidity from a cold front that passed through western Virginia. Our destination was Big Meadows picnic ground and the surrounding area. The "big meadow" is behind the sign. When I was a kid, temporary overflow parking was in the field for those who arrived late after the campground was full. Today it is burned periodically to keep it open as it has been for centuries.

The Blue Ridge Mountains ... layers of historic scenery.

Wildflowers were in abundance as were butterflies.

The trail invites to explore the big meadow. On a July day with temps in the 60s and low humidity, it was perfect.

Dark Hollow Falls was a favorite trail with my family while growing up when our destination was the falls and coolness deep in the forest on warm summer days.

From the Byrd Visitor Center, there's a great view of the big meadow. Follow the seasons from the webcam at this location.

Busy butterflies.

Water in a rock ... this intrigued me as a kid.

Alone on a trail in the quiet woods.

Big Meadows Lodge where my parents honeymooned as young twenty-somethings. I never tire of its rustic wood-and-stone architecture, views from the terrace, walking its hallways, and thinking of my parents when they were just kids. My dad absolutely loved these mountains and passed along that love to me. They began taking me camping at Big Meadows when I was one, making many, many happy memories of spending time in Shenandoah National Park.

The sign says it all. The running joke was always that, as campers headed to the evening amphitheater program, the resident bears headed to the campground. How do you scare away a bear from the camp site? Bang on a pot with a big spoon. We never had any problems but definitely didn't take chances ... no food in tents, and coolers were kept safely in vehicles. Fun times!

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park
July 26, 2013


Leslie said...

I loved reading this post! Our family loves to camp. We'll be heading to a new campground around the Grayson Highlands area soon. We usually stay at state parks, but we decided to try a different one this year. You would love the Grayson Highlands State Park, Lynn!

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Thanks for the kind words, Leslie. I love Grayson Highlands State Park ... we camped there when the kids were younger and have enjoyed many picnics from one end to the other. I have lots of family living in Grayson County so am very familiar with the park and surrounding area. Gorgeous views and cool weather almost all year 'round. :) Have fun on your adventures!