Shenandoah National Park

Come fall and Shenandoah National Park puts on some of its best colors. Photo copyright QT Luong, www.terragalleria.com/parks

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Though worn and rumpled by the passage of time, a gentler, more rounded visage of the towering range of mountains they were in their youth, the Blue Ridge Mountains that shoulder Shenandoah National Park are no less worthy of inspection.

The backwoods and hollows that worm their way through the Appalachians overflow with rich stories of settlers who literally hacked their homes out of the forests, dug rocks out of the ground for their fence lines, and left behind orchards that continue to bear fruit for both bears and humans.

These mountains were crisscrossed by Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War, were as familiar to ridge runners as the backs of their hands, and in their heyday produced their share of moonshine for 19th and 18th century mountaineers who knew how to smooth the edges off their rough lives.

The 105-mile-long Skyline Drive (see map attached below) makes exploring Shenandoah easy, riding the spine of the mountains from Front Royal down to Rockfish Gap, where it transforms into the Blue Ridge Parkway that is a 469-mile umbilical cord tying Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Park together.

Big Meadow, Skyland, and Lewis Mountain offer waystations to spend a night or a week while exploring the park, while pullouts along the Drive provide both overlooks and passageways into the landscape for hikers and backpackers.

Walk down from the Drive and you’ll find it difficult to accept that Washington, D.C., is less than 60 miles away. Waterfalls and creeks bring moisture, sound, and fish to the landscape, while the changing seasons drape multi-colored overcoats across the mountains.

No matter the season you choose, Shenandoah will be waiting for stories to tell and landscapes to explore.

Traveler's Choice For: Hiking, birding, wildflowers, fall colors, backpacking, photography

Park History: Shenandoah National Park

Cradled by the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, Shenandoah was born out of the same movement that created Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- a need for more parks east of the Mississippi River.

Lodging in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah has two main lodges, and a small stand of cabins, to shelter visitors overnight. The accommodations might not earn five stars from everyone, but many repeat visitors swear by the charm and comfort.

Camping in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah offers a wealth of camping opportunities, from backcountry sites and huts along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to family friendly campgrounds.

Hiking In Shenandoah National Park

There are great options for hiking in Shenandoah, from cruising along the Appalachian Trail, or darting off the A.T. to make some swings down into the park's officially designated wilderness, or making a checklist of waterfall hikes.

Wildlife In Shenandoah National Park

Though located in one of the most populated regions of the United States, Shenandoah offers a richness of wildlife, from black bears and wild turkeys to owls and salamanders.

Enjoying Fall Colors In Shenandoah National Park

Though Shenandoah is open year-round, and is renowned for its spring wildflower blooms, its greatest draw arrives every fall, when the leaves begin to turn.

Mennonite Women Backpacking and Bears Falling in Shenandoah National Park

Fall is a spectacular season to hike in Shenandoah National Park. Reds, golds, greens and browns are dappling the hillsides, deer are on the move, and, if your timing is excellent, bears are falling from the trees and Mennonite women are backpacking along the Appalachian Trail.

Traveler's Checklist For Shenandoah National Park

Boasting Skyline Drive, gorgeous scenery, abundant wildlife, hundreds of miles of trails, and many other attractions, Virginia's Shenandoah National Park is one of America's most popular national parks. Here are some suggestions for maximizing the pleasure of your visit.

By The Numbers: Shenandoah National Park

Two-thirds of America’s population lives within a day’s drive of Shenandoah National Park, which is located in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains just 75 miles west of Washington, DC. Made automobile-convenient by a venerable parkway that winds through its forested mountains, Shenandoah is a recreational cornucopia and a sightseer’s delight.

Resources For Visiting Shenandoah National Park

This is where you can find websites, helpful phone numbers, friends groups and cooperating associations, and, sometimes, books related to the park.

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SHEN-Skyline Drive Map.pdf479.53 KB

Shenandoah National Park News

Shenandoah National Park Celebrates Wildflowers In Early May

Conserving native plants will be the focus of Shenandoah National Park’s 28th annual Wildflower Weekend coming in early May.

Quarter Commemorating Shenandoah National Park Arrives Friday

Come Friday, you'll be able to carry Shenandoah National Park around in your pocket. Well, at least a 25-cent piece celebrating the national park.

Essential Park Guide, Spring 2014: Spring Into The Parks

While spring in some parks (mostly those in the Rockies, Sierra, and Pacific Northwest) is rightfully described as “mud season,” there are some great early season hikes—and some wonderful camping—to be found across the National Park System. Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights.

Shenandoah National Park Images