Trees, Caves, and the Capital - Page 2

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Virginia's Shenandoah Park
Gem of the Mid-Atlantic: Virginia's Shenandoah Park  (courtesy, National Park Service)
So You Know
Always bring a sweater on a cavern adventure. Even if the day's temperature reaches the sweltering range, below ground most caverns remain cool, around 54 to 60 degrees.
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Day 2: Shenandoah to Luray and Luray Caverns (30 Miles)
The town of Luray is located nine miles west of Skyline Drive on U.S. Highway 211, and its jewel is Luray Caverns, (540.743.6551; www.luraycaverns.com), the largest of Virginia's underground wonders whose subterranean chambers range from 30 to 140 feet high. Even the most blase© teens will turn off their headphones to listen to chords played on the Great Stalacpipe Organ made of giant stalactites. Above ground, kids also like winding through the one-acre Garden Maze and peering at the antique vehicles in the Car and Carriage Caravan. The Brookside Restaurant (540.743.5698; www.brooksidecabins.com) serves Virginia ham steak and other local specials, along with burgers and salads. Spend the afternoon splashing along the river on a tubing trip with Shenandoah River Outfitters (540.743.4159; www.shenandoahriver.com).

Day 3: Shenandoah National Park
A great way to enjoy the woods and views is from atop a horse. From May through November, Skyland Stables (540.999.2210) offers one-hour guided trail rides for adults and children at least four-foot-ten-inches tall. Reserve ahead at least one day ahead of visit.

But if you prefer to do the walking yourself, over 500 miles of hiking trails won't leave you lacking. Those with young kids should try the Stony Man Trail (mile 41.7; north entrance to Skyland Resort), an easy 1.6 mile circuit with stunning valley views. Physically fit 'tweens and teens should head out to Whiteoak Canyon Falls (mile 42.6). Along the 4.6-mile strenuous, round-trip you pass six waterfalls, including the 86-foot Upper White Oak Falls, the uppermost falls. The circular 1.3-mile Limberlost Trail (milepost 43), which leads through a forest, is ADA accessible, so the path also works well for families with kids in strollers. If you didn't bring a picnic, stop for lunch or dinner (or even breakfast) at Skyland Resort (mile 41.7).

New this season is the park's "Trekking Adventure Program," a two-day, two-night guided hiking package by Shenandoah Mountain Guides that includes lodging at Skyland Resort (contact ARAMARK, the park's reservation company, 800.999.4714). Based on space there may be openings for day-trippers not staying at Skyland. Also available are three-hour, evening and stargazing hikes led by a naturalist into the Big Meadow area.

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