We ended up in the Shenandoah Valley as part of our quest to hit all of the national parks in the country and it is the home of Shenandoah National Park. The thing we were looking forward to most was that we were in bear country and Shenandoah National Park is known for bear sightings. We were also in the midst of several underground cavern systems so we wanted to see if we could have a better experience than we had at Mammoth Caves National Park.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park was our 8th National Park that we have visited on our adventure and was absolutely stunning with fall colors. We only got to spend one day out there, so we tried to pick out what was the best of the best. We got our passports stamped and headed out to hike the trails. Along the path we came across several smaller waterfalls, but the colors of the tree leaves really stole the show for the majority of the hike. That was until we had a bear cub cross our path. Aaron immediately tried to put on our larger lens so that we could get some photos but there was a ton of foliage in the area so they weren’t that great. It was absolutely incredible to see a bear but we definitely kept our space as to not disturb them or put ourselves in any danger.
Because we were staying at the Endless Caverns RV Park, we decided to check out the caves that were accessible to us right there in the park. Since we were camping there, we each were given $5 off of our tickets, but even without the discount, this place is absolutely worth it. After getting a brief background on the history of the caves, we were led down into them. Right out of the gate, it was a totally different experience than what we had at Mammoth Caves. Everything was well lit, the structures were gorgeous and our tour guide made sure that everyone was able to hear him when he was explaining things. On top of all of the beautiful natural structures, we got to see two tiny little bats sleeping in the cave. One lady decided to put her camera lens basically inches away from one of them which woke it up and it flew directly at us. Overall, we highly recommend checking out Endless Caverns.
Monticello and Wine Tasting
Instead of going back to Shenandoah National Park for another day, we decided to go down and visit Monticello to tour Thomas Jefferson’s house. The coolest thing about the house was that it was decked out with old maps, artifacts, and technology that made life easier. There was this incredible cannonball calendar right in the entryway that told you what day of the week it was. The tour of the house was rather quick, and we weren’t allowed to take any photos or videos while we were in there, but it was definitely interesting to see what kind of lifestyle he led. Our tickets also granted us access to take the tour of the slavery houses, but it was cold and the rain had picked up so we elected to skip it and go hit up a few wineries.
Our first stop was Jefferson Vineyards which was just down the road from Monticello. We learned that even though it has the Jefferson name, it’s not connected to the group that runs Monticello. We each got a full tasting and each had wines that we preferred, but none of them were mind-blowing so we didn’t purchase any bottles. We did, however, get to keep our tasting glasses which was a nice bonus.
The other winery we visited was First Colony Winery where we did the full wine tasting including the reserves. There we had two amazing Chardonnays that even Aaron enjoyed, which is shocking since he doesn’t like white wine. The reds were all really good, but the Chardonnays were so good that we brought home a bottle of each of them.