Shenandoah National Park

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

31 July 2018

Shenandoah National Park fills with magic and wonder

This past weekend, nearly all of my immediate family broke away from the hubbub of our day-to-day lives for a camping trip in Shenandoah National Park. This homage has evolved into a yearly trek, one that I find myself waiting on with bated breath. My yearning for Shenandoah made this brand guy wonder. “What is it about this place that feels like magic to me and everyone else who visits?”

ShenandoahFor those who know little about the park, it’s about an hour and a half to the west of Washington D.C. and nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. These particular mountains are deemed the Blue Ridge. Because, when you look to them from a vista, they give off the faintest shade of that color. Careening through the ridge of the mountains is Skyline Drive, a 70+ mile highway that leads you through the valleys, peaks, meadows and campgrounds of the Shenandoah.

“Nothing beats that kind of experience. Nothing at all.”

What makes Shenandoah special

I’ve been all around the states, having camped in just about every national park. (For a time, I ran a college basketball scouting service, so these locales became my home for an RV and me.) While all held special spot in my heart, with the Shenandoah’s, it was like going to church. This represents my unique place of reverie in the states. Ken Burns, a favorite around Stealing Share, reflected upon this idea in his documentary on our national parks. Burns illuminates a quote from writer Samuel Bowles. “It was easier to find God in nature than in a cathedral.” There is no finer statement than that.

These sanctuaries (and I do not use such term lightly) maintain integrity and remain timeless. As a visitor of our national parks, I have certain expectations. These expectations, like those of a powerful brand, never waiver, yet are always enhanced through user experience.

While visiting Shenandoah, I know I can hike along a sleepy ridge. I can look out into the surrounding valley from a sharp mountain ledge, and embrace peace and solitude. Yet, national parks can claim the unexpected as part of their brand too. Like the 10 black bears we saw at dusk foraging for blackberries in Big Meadows. Or the barred owl hanging around our campground for an evening and the joy it brought to the faces of my grandchildren each time it called out.

Nothing beats that kind of experience. Nothing at all. And for that reason, I am already excited for our return trip to Shenandoah next year.

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