Escaping to Nature During Covid

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This post is in partnership with Moon Guides. All opinions are my own.

For months, my husband and I had been talking about going on a camping trip. We’ve already been staying in a pretty, rural, nature-rich area during the pandemic, but there is something about the camping experience that seems to heal and bond our family. And with all the stressors of virtual work and virtual school we felt this was something we needed more than ever.

Coincidently, I got an opportunity to partner with Moon Guides and check out their travel guides, specifically the Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip guide. This perfectly worked with the planning we were already doing to revisit Shenandoah National Park.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long running from Virginia all the way to North Carolina and spanning the southern and central Appalachians. In our travels we’ve done some of the parkway, but not all and never in one massive trip. The Moon Guide for The Blue Ridge Parkway is a road trip wish list of all the incredible stops to explore along this majestic and often visually stunning road way.

We chose Shenandoah National Park as our camping retreat because we could drive to it, but also because it is one of the least busiest parks, especially when compared to the next closest park to us, Acadia.

Shenandoah National Park is a hiker’s paradise. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails in the park—101 of them make up the Appalachian trail, an exciting endeavor for any hiking lover. Some trails offer easy access to those with disabilities or who don’t want to take on a strenuous experience just to enjoy the woods. But there are also plenty of other trails that help challenge you.

There are breathtaking views and waterfalls, but you won’t experience them without first taking on a hike or two, some which require a varying degree of intensity. It doesn’t have the proximity to a ton of wildlife as say, Yellowstone, though that is not to say you won’t see it (protecting our food from bears was a huge priority and a racoon and I had to battle it out one night for his insistence on joining us around the campfire for dinner). People who visit the park are very much prepared to venture out into the woods and if you time it just right, do so in mostly isolation.

Planning Your Trip To Avoid Crowds

We planned our visit right at the beginning of fall, after school started but before leaf peeping season. We also went during the week. This not only secured us a beautiful and fairly isolated camping site, it also meant that we weren’t going to be surrounded by crowds anywhere else.

Our site was foresty and private.

We packed a massive cooler with all sorts of food to minimize the need to eat in the restaurants – which at the moment have limited service, limited menu items, and are so, so expensive. In addition, the restaurants are using disposable plates, utensils, and cups to serve every meal and much of that stuff is not recyclable.

The Moon Guide was really great in helping us determine which trail we would take on our days there. Distance, estimated duration, elevation, and difficulty were clearly described, as were specific highlights around the trail. The only thing it didn’t have was an indication on whether the trails welcomed dogs, information you can get at the Visitor’s Center or at the trailhead before entry. Luckily for us, our dogs are small enough to carry in a backpack if necessary.

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