In Luray, cabins are a dime a dozen. In fact, Page County is known as (and gubernatorially proclaimed in 2009) the “Cabin Capital of Virginia” due to the more than 250 cabins located within its borders. For every size family there is a cabin to match, but for couples, there’s absolutely one destination worth your while: Shadow Mountain Escape.
Pulling into the drive at Shadow Mountain Escape delivers a reaction of “sold!” The grounds are pristine and lovingly manicured by owners and hosts Ralph and Karen Riddle, including a short but serene nature trail through a section of the 15-acre property. A focal point is the stream-fed pond, with handmade benches for sitting and staying awhile. There are several of those benches, in fact, and Ralph made them himself.
Butterfly Cabin: Romantic Delight
Sweet Lola, the Boston Terrier, enjoys greeting guests with Karen, who offers a warm welcome and tour of your accommodation. Ours was the Butterfly Cabin, a romantic reprieve modeled after a salt box barn. The ceiling soars and the kitchenette is well equipped with a stove, refrigerator, and Keurig with a nice variety of k-cups. The bathroom is spacious, and we found that if you happened to forget shampoo (we didn’t, but might’ve), the problem was solved with a full-size bottle beneath the sink.
The main room is arranged into two spaces – a sitting area with a very comfortable leather couch and satellite television, and the “let’s get it on” area with an equally comfortable queen size Argentinian iron bed. There’s even an amber-shaded lamp and fireplace for mood-inducing ambiance.
Double glass doors open to a balcony outfitted with a wrought iron patio table and very comfortable chairs. The striking red umbrella adds a pop of color to the natural surroundings. From that perch, guests are likely to see late evening or early morning wildlife passing through. Ralph said turkey, deer, and bear are common visitors. I enjoyed hearing the frogs sing.
After we settled in, Ralph and Karen hosted us for a mini reception. We learned that Ralph’s upbringing in Germany led to the 100% authentic oak timber frame construction of the cabins. He said white oak is the wood of choice, and old German style timber framing dates to the 1300’s. There isn’t a single nail used in framing, rather, you’ll see wooden pegs in the beams. Ralph said the castles (yes, castles!) he grew up around were timber frame, and there was no question that his own endeavor would mimic them.
Karen graciously showed us all of the available cabins, and two things struck me. The furnishings are beautiful, genuine European pieces, and there are wrought iron details everywhere. I noted this aloud, and she said a craftsman in Culpeper, Virginia created every piece of iron. More than that, Ralph designed every piece, delivering a hand-drawn concept that the craftsman turned into reality. About the European furnishings, Karen said she believes they have the largest collection of authentic trunks on the East Coast. She and Ralph collected them while living overseas, then shipped them to Virginia upon their return.
The Ladybug Cabin is the smallest of the collection, but that makes it all the more intimate. A spiral staircase leads from the entrance and sitting area to the bedroom where picture windows bring the outside in. Karen calls it “the bird cage,” but I call it heavenly.
Bear Dance Lodge includes the Dragonfly and Bumblebee cabins, as well as La Cantina and an observation tower. Both “cabins” are two-story, incredibly spacious getaways. In fact, Karen said the most recent guests of Bumblebee stayed several days and never left the property!
The Keys to Shadow Mountain Escape
- Shadow Mountain Escape is a couples-only destination.
- The cabins of Shadow Mountain Escape are certified “Virginia Green,” meaning there are numerous environment-first practices in place and practiced, not the least of which is the recycling center. SME was recognized as a Virginia Green Leader in 2011, and awarded Virginia Green Cabin of the Year in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
- Cabins do not include telephones and there is little to no cell phone service at the property. WiFi can be accessed at Bear Dance Lodge. A telephone is provided there as well.
- Wine is available in each cabin, making an add-on to your stay readily and easily available. You’ll find red and white choices in a custom-designed, wrought iron hanging bottle display.
- Shadow Mountain Escape abuts Shenandoah National Park, putting trails and nature just steps away.
- Saturday night stays include s’mores! Ralph builds a fire in the pit and Karen provides the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate for the guests.
- Pizza delivery is a reality! If you don’t want to cook or go out, have dinner brought to you.
- Ask Karen about the Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop, a fun day trip to surrounding establishments.
Check the reservation calendar today. SME books fast (especially weekends)!
Images by Casey L. Higgins. All rights reserved.