Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

By | December 10, 2022

According to answermba, Shenandoah National Park is a long, narrow park in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Much of the park is wilderness, traversed by the scenic Skyline Drive. The almost 170 km long route is one of the most famous sights of the park, which was founded in 1926. In autumn the hills and the valley are a riot of colour. This part of the Appalachian Mountains is home to some of Virginia’s oldest rock formations. The exposed areas in the park were formed more than a billion years ago.

Running along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive is surrounded by a rugged panorama of forests and mountains and offers sweeping views of the Shenandoah River valley to the west and the hills of the Piedmond Plateau to the east. One of the most common wildlife sightings along the road is deer. Over 500 miles of hiking trails are accessible from Skyline Drive. The Appalachian Trail often runs nearly parallel along the entire length of the scenic road through the park.

Before it was designated a national park, the region was primarily used for agriculture. Much of the park was acquired by the state after a devastating drought in the 1930s that forced many farmers to abandon. The state of Virginia bought or expropriated the land from the owners to protect the park. However, some ‘resisters’ have remained, even though their communities have been expelled or destroyed. This sad but true story is also part of one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA.

Location and Size
Just 120 km from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC is Shenandoah National Park in the state of Virginia. The park’s protected area covers 809 km² in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to deer and songbirds. The region is a haven for rest and relaxation with densely forested ridges, forests with numerous rivers, waterfalls, spectacular views and tranquil hiking trails. Stony Man and Hawksbill rise to a height of over 1,200 meters.

from the Washington, DC Metro Area
to the North Entrance : Drive west on Interstate 66 to Front Royal, Virginia (100 km, 62 miles). Exit onto Route 340 South and follow signs to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive.
to Thornton Gap Entrance : Drive West on Interstate 66 to Exit 43A (52 km, 32 miles). Continue on US Highway 29 South to Warrenton, Virginia (18 km, 11 miles). Take US Highway 211 West to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive (45 km, 28 miles).

Hours of Operation
Shenandoah National Park is open year-round. Portions of Skyline Drive, the only public road through the park, are closed during inclement weather and at night during deer hunting season and mid-November through early January. Visitors can hike the park at any time, even when Skyline Drive is closed.

Visitor Centers
Dickey Ridge Visitor Center: Located at Milepost 4.6 on Skyline Drive. From the beginning of April open daily from 09:00 to 17:00.

Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center: Located at Milepost 51 on Skyline Drive.
Open from Friday to Sunday and on public holiday Mondays (19.01. and 16.02.) from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. From 28.03. the visitor center is open daily from 09:00 to 17:00.

Entrance Fees
$30 per non-commercial vehicle up to 15 occupants, $25 for motorcycles with passenger, $15 per person for hikers or cyclists. Valid for 7 days. Children up to 16 are free.

Campsites are open from spring to autumn. Advance reservations are accepted and are highly recommended, especially on weekends and public holidays (Tel: 877-444-6777).
There are three campgrounds suitable for RVs: Mathews Arm (Milepost 22.1), Big Meadows (Milepost 51.2), and Loft Mountain (Milepost 79.5). There are no connections, but drinking water and central sewers are available.

Dining and Lodging
There are several restaurants along Skyline Drive. Accommodation options include the cozy Big Meadows Lodge, the elegant Skyland Resort and the rustic Lewis Mountain Cabins.

Spring takes its time in the mountains: If you visit the park at the end of March, you will drive through spring landscapes in the lowlands and encounter winter on the mountains . In May it gradually gets greener in the mountains. The air is very clear.

In summer the air is cloudy and visibility is often limited. Summer is the time for camping and hiking tours. The wildflowers are in bloom, the days are warm but the nights can get chilly. In the evening you need a jacket, sweater and a warm sleeping bag when camping.

Autumn: In September, wildflowers such as goldenrod, asters and gentian are in full bloom. The autumn colors are beginning to shine. Typically, the peak of autumn colors occurs between the tenth and twenty-fifth of October. Then the leaves of the maple trees glow yellow, gold and red.

In winter the air is cold, mostly clear and visibility is perfect.

Average temperatures in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia in °C
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 2 2 7 13 18 22 24 23 20 14 8 4
Min -7 -8 -3 2 7 12 14 14 10 4 -1 -5


Driving Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive runs 170 km (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.

Mileposts are located along Skyline Drive on the west side (right side when driving south). The “mileposts” are used for orientation in the park, they start at 0.0 in Front Royal and go to milepost 105 at the south end of the park. The most developed area is Big Meadows, near the center of the park at milepost 51. All maps and references refer to the mileposts.

The top speed is 35 miles per hour (55 km/h). There are 75 lookout points offering breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west or the rolling hills of the Piedmont to the east. Wildflowers can be admired all year round. In spring, the first wildflowers appear through the grass, in June azaleas and cardinals can be admired, and goldenrod dominates the blaze of color into autumn.

Shenandoah is home to deer, black bear, wild turkey and a variety of other forest animals that regularly cross Skyline Drive. Careful attention should be paid to animals as they will cross the road without warning.

The Skyline Drive is also suitable for mobile homes and caravans. However, vehicles must not be taller than 3.9 meters (12’8″) or passage through the Marys Rock tunnel (south of the Thornton Gap entrance on Highway 211) is not possible.

Outdoor Activities
Shenandoah is the ideal area for all kinds of outdoor activities. With more than 800 kilometers of hiking trails on an area of ​​over 800 km², outdoor enthusiasts will find everything their heart desires.


Old Rag Mountain is Shenandoah National Park’s most popular and dangerous hike. The number of blogs and websites about the tour is a testament to its popularity, and the number of annual search and rescue missions is a testament to the dangers. In any case, the tour is one of the most exciting adventures in the park and rewarded with spectacular views. A total of almost 15 km (9 miles) to cover, the elevation gain is significant and there are some steep rock climbs that require a lot of strength. You should expect about 6-8 hours for the entire circular route.

Although Old Rag Mountain is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park, most visitors come from the east side of the park.
From Sperryville , Route 211: Route 522 south for 1.2 km (0.8 miles). Then turn right onto Route 231 and continue for 13 km (8 miles). Turn right onto Route 601 and follow the signs to the parking lot (approx. 5 km, 3 miles).
From Madison , Route 29: Route 231 for 20 km (12.8 miles). Turn left onto Route 602 and follow the signs to the parking lot (approx. 5 km, 3 miles).
Fees: A valid Shenandoah National Park admission ticket is required to hike the Old Rag (see admission prices above).

Bike Tours
Biking is permitted along Skyline Drive and on paved areas in the park. Mountain bike tours are prohibited on hiking trails, dirt roads or in green areas. Skyline Drive is a dual carriageway with steep hills and numerous blind turns, so extra caution is required.

The park is home to more than 70 mountain streams. The fishing opportunities are very numerous, for the preservation and protection of fish stocks, these are regulated. Information is available at the visitor center.

Guided rides
From spring to autumn there are guided rides on horseback. Tours depart from Skyland.

In addition to small waterfalls along streams, there are large and beautiful waterfalls in every section of Shenandoah National Park. All are accessible from a parking lot along Skyline Drive with a short or long hike.

Overall Run Falls at Milepost 21.1 in the park’s North District. The Overall Run Fall is the tallest waterfall at 29m, which not only impresses with its imposing nature, but also offers a magnificent view of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain to the west. The 10.3 km (6.4 miles) hike to the falls and back includes a vertical drop of 563 meters.

Rose River Falls at Milepost 49.4 along Skyline Drive, is a waterfall that plunges over 20 feet. After a lot of rain it is particularly spectacular. Much of the trail is in the park’s wilderness area. The round trip is 4.1 km (2.6 miles) and climbs 220 meters.

South River Falls at Milepost 62.8 in the Central District is quite spectacular. At the park’s third highest waterfall, the water falls over 25 meters. The return trip is 4.2 km (2.6 miles) with an elevation gain of 260 meters.

Jones Run Falls at Milepost 84.1 in the park’s South District. The 12 meter high waterfall is framed by rocks, moss and shrubs. There is almost 5.5 km (3.4 miles) to go there and back, with a climb of 279 meters.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia