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3 Keys to Not Fail When Planning a Trip to Shenandoah National Park

Hi there!! For anyone who is new to my blog, let me introduce the whole crew here. I’m

Carson Presley, and I write the content behind Girls & Dogs, Oh My. I’m graduating college this May (err--sort-of, just not traditionally because of the Coronavirus).


The luckiest person in the world, I have two adorable Labradoodles! Scout, who is two-years-old, and Ryder, who is just 9-weeks-old.


My better half, Spencer, is the most amazing dog mom who helps me keep a handle on our two wild fur babies.


Together, we love traveling. We love packing up our Jeep and exploring new places. We’re also (until recently) first-time dog owners. In other words, we’re young and make a lot of mistakes--which is where the inspiration for this blog came from!


I want to be able to share all of our journeys and dog mom lessons with you all--especially our mistakes--so that you all can have the best possible experiences.


Every Monday I post new content with our latest adventure, traveling advice, dog mom tips and tricks. Sometimes I post more than just Mondays, so make sure to subscribe for updates! You might also get a rockin' discount as well :)



You did some research, made a list of things to do, trails to hike, places to try out some new photography skills. And you were so excited. But then...


literally everything goes wrong.



Completely relatable.


Spencer and I had made plans to have our anniversary photos taken just outside of Shenandoah National Park, so we decided to take a weekend trip and explore while we were out that way.


Genius, right? Who doesn't love tacking on a little adventure to any trip?


Whenever we are traveling more than an hour away from home, we try to find a new experience, dog park, trail, restaurant, dessert shop--literally anything.

Related Post: Easy Guide for Planning Every Trip!

So, like any good traveler, we turned to our good friend, AirBnB.


Before this trip, we had never used the experience feature of AirBnB so we were super excited. There were a TON of guided hikes within the park offered, if that is your thing.


We found an experience we had never done before: HORSEBACK RIDING.




Side note: When planning a trip, some experiences only happen on certain days of the month. We didn't know this until we were looking at the hosts' specific page and realized we lucked out with what day they offered the experience.

Abby and Caleb, our hosts, were the greatest ever. We got to brush the horses, watch Caleb replace one of the horseshoes, and obviously ride the horses.


They also have a bunch of dogs that are super cute and fluffy as well--huge bonus, obviously!



As we sat in our hotel room, we realized we didn't plan for anything to do in the room. So what else would we do except turn to Pinterest and find a game to play.

Related Post: 4 Best Trails at Cuyahoga Valley National Park


Our quick search turned up adult Pictionary!


If you have never played, you should. It goes like this:


One person draws an item while the other guesses what they are drawing. If they guess correctly, the drawer drinks. If they can't figure out and guess, then the guesser drinks.


Neither of us are incredibly artistic, so you can only imagine how that turned out for us!



We had so much fun and eventually fell asleep watching Live P.D.


When we go on trips, we normally try to wake up a little earlier than normal to beat the rush. We were also trying to make it into the park before sunrise so that we could watch the sunrise with a view!


Little did we know, the park closes with even the slightest bit of snow on the roads. You can (and should, as we learned) call the National Park hotline before you go to find out if the park is closed or not.



That number can be found on the National Park Service page—so be sure to save it before you go!


We had already driven about an hour to get there and didn't want to just turn around and head home. We decided to make the most out of the trip and play in the snow.


Was this more fun than hiking?? Maybe.....


Long story short, make sure you research the likelihood of closures during inclement weather whenever you're traveling somewhere. It seems obvious, but is easily forgotten in the midst of planning for your trip.


If everything for your trip seems good to go, save that National Park Office phone number so that you can call the morning of your trip...just in case.


The best tip I can give from this trip is to have a couple games/activities ready to pass the time. Freeing your inner child and living in the moment is always worth it!


We only live about three hours from Shenandoah so we will most definitely be going back when the temperatures rise.



While we didn't get around to hiking on this trip, we definitely will be going back to explore. I can't wait to share that with you all.


xoxo, carson presley

About Carson Presley

I'm a dog mom of two, adventure seeker, and (soon-to-be) helicopter pilot.

Read More or shoot me an email!

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