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Shenandoah National Park
Travel Guide – Virginia

Shenandoah National Park Travel Guide

Shenandoah National Park runs through eight counties in north-central Virginia, along the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park is long and narrow because it follows the river and the ridge line. It is much acclaimed for its stunning natural beauty and is visited by some 1.2 million tourists every single year.

History

The beauty of the Shenandoah Valley was long recognized and was enjoyed by farmers and others who lived off the land for many decades. It was not until 1935 that the area became a national park. The state of Virginia gradually pieced together the park land and then donated it to the national government provided it become a park.

Things to see and do in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Kids observing the view at Shenandoah National Park.

Travel the famed “Skyline Drive,” a 100-plus-mile scenic drive that runs along the edge of the Blueridge Mountains and offers amazing views of the valley below. During the autumn, the mix of colors in the forests is particularly scenic. You can stop along the route as well at numerous scenic lookout points, which are also grand photo opportunities.

There are many sights to see for those who camp or hike through the park. You can climb Hawksbill Mountain, some 4,000 feet up in the air, for a panoramic view of your surroundings. You can see numerous waterfalls, particularly the six located in Whiteoak Canyon. In the Cedar Run area, rock slide, swimming pools, and more waterfalls are to be found. Travel Stony Man Trail, and you will find an excellent place to see the sun set at the trail’s end. You can also bike, horseback ride, or trek down the Appalachian Trail.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

The welcome sign at the south entrance to Shenandoah National Park.

Back-country or “wilderness” camp sites are available in the park and are usually open except for during winter and early spring. Campers, however, must follow strict rules on how they store food to avoid accidentally feeding the bears and must leave no trace that they had ever camped there. No hunting is allowed in the park, and there is an abundant wildlife population.

Climate conditions

Summers in Shenandoah National Park are rather hot, with July highs averaging 88 degrees, while winters are fairly cold, with January highs at 46 degrees. Winters are also prone to seeing large quantities of snow and ice, however, making them quite severe. Temperatures in the valley bottom are generally ten or so degrees lower than up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.