A Foggy Surprise

Front Royal Travel Blog

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at the entrance, wondering what is taking so long
In about an hour, I started getting a slight sense of deja vu.  My family had toured Skyline Caverns, just north of the Shenandoah National Park, several years ago; we had stayed in Front Royal, the northern gateway to SNP.  I recognized a few familiar buildings including a Pizza Hut where we had dined.
A left hand turn later and I pulled up to the entrance to the park.  The car ahead of me was taking some time to pay their entrance fee, and I found out why when it was my turn to pay.  I handed my $15 over to the ranger who then promptly stated that fog had closed in about two miles ahead.  They weren't closing the park but driving would be hazardous to the point of not being able to see the road.
just over the edge of the overlook
  She then looked at me and asked if I still wanted to go in.
I had planned for rain.  I had planned for cold.  I had planned around DC traffic.  The one thing I hadn't considered was thick fog.  However, I had paid for a hotel room, had driven all the way out here, and really would not have a chance to visit Shenandoah in the fall without the weekend crowd again.  Plus I had decided that morning that I was going to have an optimistic attitude towards the day.  I pushed aside my disappointment, said yes and drove on in.
Although cloudy, the road was still only slightly foggy, so I stopped at the first pullover.  It wasn't an overlook, but it gave me the chance to see some of the fall colors, the whole point of why I had decided to visit Shenandoah and traverse the Skyline Drive.
display on Experience Shenandoah
 
A short distance later, I encountered the fog and my speed slowed from the limit of 35 mph to about 25.  I pulled over at the next roadside stop, this one an overlook.  I could see a few yards down the hill and then slowly everything faded into white.  I turned to look back at my car, only a few dozen feet away.  I could still see it but a definite film filled the air between us.
I stopped at Dickey Visitor Center at mile 4.5.  Here I took my older National Parks Passport book to the bookstore and found the stamping station.  I added the stamp next to one 15 years old, the first and only other time I had been to Shenandoah.  I wandered through the rustic-looking building past a comfy firefplace into a small exhibit on Experience Shenandoah.
vibrant red
  Here a relief map lit up to show various points of interest such as overlooks, visitor centers, trails, and historical sites.  Also, models of animals introduced visitors to Shenandoah's residents.  The ranger asked if I was interested in the movie.  Normally, I don't sit down for the movies but he said it was only 10 minutes and it wasn't like I was missing a lot outside, so I sat down in the 50-person theater.  It was a nice little movie plus it gave me the chance to see some views of Shenandoah that I was not going to see today.
I took my time back out on the road.  At one roadside pullover, I marveled at the bright reds of a plant that creeped along the ground.  The last few flowers of fall added their hues to the edge of the road, and I took a few minutes to snap a few shots.
  The video had mentioned how the fog obscured the far-away but brought the near into focus.  I was becoming proof of that statement.  Despite the fog I was enjoying myself.
At a wooded pullover, I looked up high into misty branches as a bird called out. 
As I drove, I found amazement in how the bright colors effused out of the fog.  I kept looking around and smiling at the palette fall created.  I saw a tree glow through the whiteness and when a pullover popped up just a short distance up the road, I had to pull over.  The stop provided me with the chance to play around with close-ups of small plants, the grey background helping my little camera to focus on the details.
One of the biggest warnings the rangers can give is to watch out for wildlife.
deer that crossed in front of me
  Sure enough, my first spotting of the day was two deer right in the road a little ways in front of me, plenty of time to stop.  They were a bit startled but not too much, seeing as how I had time to pull out my camera and get a shot in from the driver's seat.
Another overlook presented me with a stark image of a leafless tree standing tall against the obscure background.  Pulling out the overlook, I continued using the trick of listening rather than watching for cars.  While we were all driving with our lights on, with my window down partially, I could hear a vehicle well before I could see it.
I took another short break among people at (I need to look up the name...) where visitors can buy groceries, souvenirs, and gas (which was running about 20 cents more in the park).
  I purchased four postcards, used the restroom (which was cold!), and continued on down the road.
When I came to another entrance to Shenandoah National Park, I decided to exit the park for a bit and go over to Luray Caverns.  The rest of my family had visited these caves several years ago but I had still not seen them.  Ready to give my eyes a rest from the strain of peering into the fog, I made sure I had my receipt for re-entry and headed out.
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at the entrance, wondering what is…
at the entrance, wondering what i…
just over the edge of the overlook
just over the edge of the overlook
display on Experience Shenandoah
display on Experience Shenandoah
vibrant red
vibrant red
deer that crossed in front of me
deer that crossed in front of me
the road at about 2 miles
the road at about 2 miles
Im not too far from my car
I'm not too far from my car
Dickey Visitor Center
Dickey Visitor Center
relief map of Shenandoah
relief map of Shenandoah
exposed tree
exposed tree
lichen or something like it growin…
lichen or something like it growi…
roadside flowers
roadside flowers
rocks on roadside
rocks on roadside
Front Royal
photo by: diisha392