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.
Recreational visits to Shenandoa in 2010. That’s an increase of 132,405 visitors over 2009, but still far below the peak attendance of 2.8 million (in 1977).
Acreage (equal to 311 square miles). Shenandoah is long and narrow, being 105 miles long and nowhere more than about 15 miles wide.
Federally designated wilderness acreage. Many visitors conditioned to think of Shenandoah in frontcountry terms are surprised to learn that 40% of the park consists of wilderness tracts.
Approximate number of Civilian Conservation Corps workers who helped plant hundreds of thousands of trees, shrubs, and native plants in the park during 1933-1942. The fine CCC-built structures in this park deserve the praise they get, but it was the revegetation projects that greened up thousands of acres of mountainsides deforested by 200 years of farming, grazing, and timbering.
Height (feet) of Hawksbill Mountain, the park’s highest peak. Though visitors from western states are not likely to be impressed, mountains like Hawksbill and Stony Man (the park’s only other 4,000-fotter) add scenic diversity and are tall enough to provide 360-degree views.
Species of wildflowers found in the park. Wildflowers account for nearly two-thirds of the park’s 1,376 species of vascular plants (including 66 rare species). The first wildflowers you’re likely to see this spring (late March) are hepatica (Hepatica nobilis) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).
Clearance (inches) of 600 foot-long Mary’s Rock Tunnel, which is located on Skyline Drive just south of the park’s Thornton Gap entrance (Route 211 junction). If your RV or horse trailer is this high, you’ll need to avoid this section of the parkway.
Length (miles) of Skyline Drive, which winds along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Front Royal in the north and Rockfish Gap in the south. Weather and traffic permitting, it’s about a three-hour drive, end to end. Directions to Shenandoah’s most important sites or attractions include Skyline Drive milepost information. For example, Mary’s Rock Tunnel is at mile 31 and historic Big Meadows Lodge resort is at mile 51.
Length (miles) of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail within the park’s borders. That’s 4.65% of the AT’s total length.
Height (feet) of Overall Run Falls, the park’s tallest waterfall. Shenandoah has many waterfalls. Most are small, but nine are 28 feet tall or higher.
Fish species living in the park’s streams, including popular game fish like the eastern brook trout. Fishing is allowed in some park waters.
Amount of federally-owned land and public facilities in Green Springs National Historic Landmark District, which is administered by Shenandoah National Park. Green Springs, a 14,004-acre area of Louisa County with numerous historic structures (including fine rural manor houses) was designated a national historic landmark in 1977. There are preservation easements for nearly half of the land (5,766 acres).