Shenandoah National Park is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the US state of Virginia in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the United States. It is a narrow, elongated national park with the Shenandoah River in the Shenandoah Valley on the west and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east.
Just 75 miles from Washington DC , the park is famous for Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that runs through the entirety of Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The entire land area of 79,579 acres, with its rocks over 1,000,000 years old, is designated as wilderness and is under special protection. Dense forests with numerous rivers and waterfalls with a wide valley on each side runs through the national park. The highest peaks are Stony Man and Hawksbill at over 4000 feet.
Many visitors use the park for picnicking, hiking and relaxing. Visit this park and have a picnic at one of the spectacular views, perhaps overlooking the breathtaking falls.
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The Skyline Drive runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park and is the only public road through the park. It takes about three hours to travel the entire length of Skyline Drive. It can be driven at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour. Skyline Drive offers stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west or Rolling Piedmont to the east.
Driving through the National Park on Skyline Drive is especially popular in the fall, when the leaves are changing colors and everything is colorful. More than two million people visit Skyline Drive, now designated a National Scenic Byway, every year.
The park covers a total of eight district parts. On the west side of Skyline Drive is Warren, Page, Rockingham and Augusta counties. On the east side of Skyline Drive is the Rappahannock, Madison, Greene, and Albemarle Counties.
Overall, Shenandoah Park extends from the city of Front Royal in the northwest to the city of Waynesboro in the southwest.
Sights in Shenandoah National Park
The park is known for its famous streets, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. But also for the 160 km long hiking trail the Appalachian Trail, which leads you through the park.
Things to do in Shenandoah Park
A total of around 800 kilometers of hiking trails lead through the park. A popular hiking trail is at Old Rag Mountain, which offers stunning views of Virginia. Another popular hiking trail is the Dark Hollow Falls Trail and the Stony Man Trail. Dark Hollow Falls begins at mile 50.7 on Skyline Drive near the Byrd Visitor Center. It leads downhill to Hogcamp Branch and Dark Hollow Falls.
The Stony Man Trail is one of the most scenic routes on Skyline Drive. It ends at a beautiful vantage point from which you can enjoy watching sunsets.
Another activity in the park is horseback riding, camping, biking, wildlife viewing and a visit to the ten waterfalls. The streams and rivers in the park are popular with fly fishermen for native brown trout.
In addition, the park rangers offer several programs, such as guided hikes with information on the history of Shenandoah National Park, the flora and fauna.
Story of Shenandoah
The first people came to this area 10,000 years ago. In the early 20th century it was discussed for the first time whether a national park should be established in the eastern United States. In 1926, Shenandoah Park in Virginia was licensed and protected on December 26, 1935. The Commonwealth of Virginia acquired the land and made it available to the US federal government to protect as a national park.
Communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains were cleared and owners were dispossessed to accommodate the new Skyline Drive attraction in the park.
In 1930, the National Park Service began planning the parks. At the time, Jim Crow segregation legislation was commonplace in Virginia. The first attempt was to ban Afro-Americans from the park.
The first companies settled here like the Skyland Resort, the Panorama Resort, and the Swift Run Gap, but these should only be operated by white people.
In 1937, the Park Service accepted an offer from the Virginia Sky-Line Company, which would take over existing facilities, to build new cabins and Big Meadows Lodge.
The park was not operated during World War II, but operations resumed immediately after the end of the war.
Campsites in the park
A popular activity in Shenandoah National Park is camping at one of the park’s campgrounds or in the wilderness. Shenandoah’s campgrounds are open in the spring, summer, and fall. Backcountry campers must follow special rules, such as leaving no trash and paying close attention, as the park is home to wildlife such as bears and venomous snakes.
Most of the campsites are open from April to October-November. There are five major campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park: Mathews Arm Campground, Big Meadows Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground, Loft Mountain Campground, and the Dundo Group Campground.
There are three lodges in the national park where people like to stay overnight. These are Skyland Resort, Big Meadows, and Lewis Mountain Cabins.
Big Meadows Lodge has 25 rooms in the main house, 72 additional rooms in rustic cottages, multi-unit lodges, and a few modern suites. The Skyland Resort has 179 guest rooms, rustic cabins, multi-unit lodges, and a few contemporary suites. At Lewis Mountain Cabins there are several rustically furnished cabins with ensuite bathrooms and outdoor grilling areas.
Visitor Center at Park Shenandoah
There are three visitor centers in Shenandoah National Park: Harry F. Byrd Sr Visitor Center, Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and the new Mobil Visitor Center. Each Visitor Center is the ideal place to ask questions, orient yourself and learn through interactive exhibits, educational programs and information booths.
Dogs in the park
Shenandoah National Park is one of the most dog-friendly national parks in the United States. Dogs are allowed on campgrounds and almost all hiking trails including the Appalachian Trail. The only condition is that they are kept on a leash.
Waterfalls in the park
The park is known for its many waterfalls, which are located within the park. We have put together the individual waterfalls for you here:
Overall Run: Mile 21.1 – Elevation 28m – The largest waterfall in the park, located south of Hogback Overlook
Whiteoak Canyon: Mile 42.6 – Elevation 26 m – It is located in the Whiteoak Canyon parking area and is one of a series of six waterfalls.
Cedar Run: Mile 45.6 – Elevation 10m – Located at the Hawksbill Gap parking area and one of a series of six falls.
Rose River: Mile 49.4 – Elevation 20m – Located at Fishers Gap Overlook with a loop trail.
Dark Hollow Falls: Mile 50.7 – Height 21m – Located in the Dark Hollow Falls parking area very close to Skyline Drive.
Lewis Falls: Mile 51.4 – Elevation 25m – Located south of Big Meadows, there is also a loop trail here.
South River Falls: Mile 62.8 – Elevation 25m – Near the South River picnic area with a loop trail and lookout point.
Doyles River Falls: Mile 81.1 – Height 9m and 19m – Near the Doyles River parking area with a loop trail showing the upper and lower falls.
Jones Run Falls: Mile 84.1 – Elevation 13 m – At the Jones Run parking area with a loop trail that also leads to the Doyles River.
Climate in Park Shenandoah
The park’s climate is largely typical of mountainous regions, with temperatures typically being 10 degrees cooler than in the valley below. Four seasons make Shenandoah Park a new and exciting place each month. It is best visited in the fall when the fall foliage is in line, but it is also spectacular in the spring when the wildflowers and trees are in bloom.
A lush green invites you in summer and in winter when the park is covered with snow and ice, many animals can be observed.
Flora and fauna in the park
Oaks, chestnuts, maples, tulip trees, mountain laurels and pines can be found in the national park. In between live animals like red deer, black bear, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, possum, marmot, red fox, the gray fox and coyotes. Very rarely you can also see a mountain lion. In addition, more than 200 bird species are at home here. Peregrine falcons were reintroduced in the mid-1990s. 32 species of fish live in the waters of the park.
Shenandoah National Park opening hours
Shenandoah National Park is always open. However, portions of Skyline Drive may be closed during inclement weather and at night during deer hunting season. Visitors always have the opportunity to hike the park, even when all establishments are closed.
Entrance fees into Shenandoah NP
Admission to Shenandoah Park is $20 per vehicle for seven days, but no more than 15 people are allowed in the vehicle. Individuals are $10 for seven days and motorcycles are $15. You can also buy an annual pass, the Shenandoah Annual Pass, for $40.
Directions to Shenandoah National Park
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, west of Washington DC, Shenandoah National Park extends 105 miles from its northern entrance at Front Royal to its southern entrance near Waynesboro.
Address of the Shenandoah National Park point of interest in Virginia
Shenandoah National Park
Virginia, United States