One of the things I like most about living in DC is, well, leaving DC. A two-hour drive transports you to places like Shenandoah National Park, which feels a world away.
The colors of autumn are on full display in Shenandoah, which is about 120 kilometers southwest of Washington, DC. Every fall season, people flock to the park to hike in the mountains and take in the beautiful views of the surrounding Shenandoah Valley, in the eastern U.S. state of Virginia.
Last weekend, some friends and I went there to do exactly that.
The drive from the U.S. capital city to the national park takes less than two hours. However, the two places feel very far away. On the way, the road passes by apple and pumpkin farms, country diners, and small towns. The scenery is very different from the city streets of Washington.
Shenandoah is a popular place on the U.S. East Coast for leaf-peeping, an informal term for people who travel to view and photograph the autumn leaves as they change colors. It may seem funny to travel somewhere just to see the changing colors of trees, but leaf peepers are serious about it!
It was no surprise, then, when we got stuck in traffic at the entrance of the park, behind cars with license plates from all over the United States, and tour buses with groups from around the world. Our two-hour drive seemed like nothing compared to how far many other people came to see Shenandoah in the fall.
Once we entered the national park, we drove along the famous Skyline Drive for a few kilometers. Some tourists come just to drive along Skyline Drive, a mountain road 200 kilometers long that provides beautiful views and a chance to see some of the wildlife, including black bears, deer, wild turkeys, and more than 200 kinds of birds.
Of course, my friends and I prefer to hike in nature rather than drive through it!
So, we got out of our car as soon as we could, looked at a trail map, and found a perfect hike nearby. We went through forest, passed an old barn, and enjoyed a beautiful panoramic view. As far as you could see, leaves were many different colors of yellow, red, and orange. It was easy to see why so many people travel to Shenandoah at this time of year.
In just a few weeks, of course, the leaves will fall to the ground, and autumn will turn into winter. Snow will cover Shenandoah’s mountains and forests. The bright colors of autumn will fade, and leaf peepers will have to wait another year for their favorite season.
I’m just glad I got there before winter did.
*Do you like hiking? Where is your favorite place to hike? Write about it below, using some of these Travel Words that may be new to you. I’ll be happy to help you out with your grammar and vocabulary!
flock – v. to arrive in large numbers or quantities
view – n. the ability to see something or to be seen from a particular place
view – v. to look at or inspect
scenery – n. the natural features of a landscape
wildlife – n. wild animals
hike – v. to walk for a long distance, especially in the woods
panoramic – adj. with a wide view surrounding the observer
trail – n. a path along a mountain or through or a forest