Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

State Park Respite in Virginia

After staying in busy towns, constantly being on the go and sightseeing, we like to find a place to chill out.  For us, that usually means heading to a state park or forest where we can get away from the crowds and where we can spend time hiking and end the day with a lit grill and campfire.

So we headed to the mountains.  First up was Hungry Mother State Park.  Funny name, right? I’ve been called a “hungry mother” from time to time when “hangry” takes over but why name a state park that?  So the story goes a mother and child were captured by Native Americans when they raided several settlements on the New River south of the park.  The pair eventually escaped and wandered through the wilderness eating only berries.  The mother finally collapsed and the child wandered down to the creek where help was found.  The only words the weak child could mutter were “hungry mother.”  Unfortunately, the mother was dead when the rescue party found her.  After reading that we made sure we had plenty of food as to not repeat the scenario. 

The park and campground were just what we wanted – a nice site with a big yard and patio that yielded some privacy and the pleasant sound of a rushing stream nearby.  The park is 3,300 acres with the centerpiece being a 100-acre reservoir surrounded by 17 miles of hiking trails.  We were in heaven!  Spirit was happy to return to the water for some retrieving and energetically bound through the woods with us happily in tow.  The weather cooperated one day and I spent a few hours paddle boarding on the reservoir (which I think was a foreign site as I got strange looks from locals as I paddled past them in my bathing suit while they cast their lures towards the bass hotspots).  If you come in the summer, you may have a totally different experience as we’re sure this place fills up.  We visited during a quiet time when the weather wasn’t the most conducive to “camping” which became evident from the snow falling one morning. The park has a lot going on with three camping loops, a restaurant, conference center, swim beach, watercraft rental, playgrounds, large picnic areas and rental cabins.


Next up was Shenandoah River State Park – which is also where I started humming John Denver’s Country Roads song every time I saw the Shenandoah River.  Much to Betsy’s dismay I didn’t stop until we reached Maryland.  Again, we had a beautiful site which was plenty long enough for our big rig and car and with a super large patio. By now, we were really digging Virginia State Parks.  The park overlooks a beautiful bend in the Shenandoah River and from a high vantage point one can only imagine how spectacular it must look when flanked by autumn foliage.  The trails (24 miles in all) were great and so under utilized we hardly ever encountered anyone on our hikes.

One day we decided to venture out of the park and found that the tiny town of Browntown was having their annual Redbud Festival.  Ironically, we didn’t see one redbud in the town but we did get to see a performance by Amazing Grace the trick mule who entertains crowds by playing basketball, smiling for the crowd, giving kisses, and other antics.  And, of course, there was the Elvis look alike who also entertained the crowd.  From there we ventured into the town of Front Royal for a beer at Pave Mint Taphouse and Grille and were planning on sticking to the beer theme by going to the Virginia Beer Museum but decided that our peaceful campsite was where we really wanted to be.


These two parks were a great find for us having never camped at Virginia State Park campgrounds before. The sites and roads were super big-rig friendly and had there been sewer hookups we can imagine spending more nights there. If you are looking for a nice get away these two parks are worth a stop.


  1. This is a gorgeous place, and I won't soon forget it. Attended an event here sponsored by the company. The reception hour was held in one of the rooms next to the venues in Chicago hall. I loved their buttery mashed sweet potato.

  2. Thanks for the informative reviews of these state parks. If we get to the area we’ll keep them in mind!


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