Autumn camping destination #4: Sherando Lake, Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains
This is the fourth and final post in a series that has been featuring lesser-know public campgrounds where you can discover dazzling scenery, spectacular fall color, and an abundance of outdoor activities.
For many autumns Carole Paulett, a retired university administrator, loaded up her purple and gold 1983 VW Westfalia and headed for her favorite campground in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each October she volunteered at the Sherando Lake Recreation Area Family Campground in the George Washington National Forest.
“I’ve been camping here since 1965,” said the 70-something solo RVer who calls the Shenandoah Valley home. “It holds a lot of memories for me of coming here with my family.” These days she travels with her four-legged partner, Mistletoe Noel. “My grandchildren named her. She was a Christmas rescue dog.”
“Sherando Lake is the most popular developed recreation area on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests,” said Michael R. Williams, forest service public affairs specialist. It is known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Sitting just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, visitors are drawn to Sherando Lake in the fall because the hardwood forest of scarlet oaks and sugar maples transform into a brilliant patchwork of red, yellow and orange hues.
If you go:
Sherando Lake Recreation Area Campground
- Facilities: 37 sites, 18 with standard electric. Showers, flush toilets and drinking water.
- Cost: $20 a night, all sites.
- Open: Through October 30.
- Best time for color: Final two weeks of October when the leaves reach their peak.