I will end my Shenandoah National Park posts where it officially began when dedicated by FDR in 1935 at Big Meadows. I had hoped our stay would begin here as well. We left Norfolk fairly early so that we could get to the first-come-first-serve campsites before the bulk of the expected Columbus Day weekend crowd. I really wanted to camp at Big Meadows, but when we got to the park the admitting ranger told us that only Loft Mt. campground, at the other end of the park, had any spaces left. We ended up with one of the last 10 spots remaining in the entire park. On Sunday we returned north just so I could see the meadows. I have been there before, but never with anyone who would abide with my desire to wander, though the often surly, soon to be 13-year old who I was travelling with did not want to go, to which I said "you are welcome to go back to the car or sulk on that rock, but I'll be through when I'm through".
Even as a kid, I was fascinated with meadows and played in them on the fringes of our neighborhood before they fell victim to sprawl. This type of landscape is not natural here, rather it is more of a transition form, usually filling the gap between what was once agriculture and a return to what was before - the forest. Big Meadows is no exception. It is the last large open area in the park, a remnant of what much of the park looked like in 1935, a collection of homesites, fields and pastures cleared from the forest. While the rest of the park has been allowed to return to its former state, NPS keeps Big Meadows as it is by a once yearly mowing. While we were there it had transitioned to fall and was a 300 acre tapestry of color and texture.
If you would like to see more of my Shenandoah N.P. pictures you can click here.