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Shenandoah National Park: A Complete Guide

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah is a 196,000-acre park less than two hours south of Washington, D.C., with rocky outcrops, rock bridges, flowing falls, and deep forests. Fox, black bear, deer, and salamander thrive in the state-protected trees of Virginia’s only national park, while campers and hikers travel high up the park’s Blue Ridge for a refreshing mountain wind. This area of central Virginia is where D.C. residents go on vacation, where historic sites outnumber theme parks, and blackberry ice cream pie is a must-have on almost every menu (yes, really). Shenandoah National Park has something for everyone, from misty mountains and sky-high roads to subterranean lakes and hot balloon flights.

Where is Shenandoah National Park?

Shenandoah National Park is approximately 70 miles from Washington, D.C., 90 miles from Richmond, Virginia, and 108 miles from Baltimore, Maryland. Harrisonburg, Virginia, is a popular home base for visitors due to its proximity to housing, restaurants, and shopping.

How to get there?

Take I-66 west to Front Royal, Virginia. Follow signs for Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive to Route 340 South. You can also Take I-95N to Wayne, then take I-64 W to US-250 E. From I-64 W, take the U.S. 250 E exit. Keep going straight onto Skyline Drive.

Park Weather

Tourists flock to Shenandoah from late April to early October, which brings mild weather and a large range of excursions, campgrounds, and trails. While summer temperatures in the neighboring towns can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (plus some! ), the park’s mountaintops are far cooler, especially at night, so bring summer and fall clothing. The trails are less crowded in the winter, but bring plenty of winter gear, especially spikes, and be prepared to hike in.

Park Timings

Shenandoah National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. While portions of the Skyline Drive are blocked during the winter, visitors can still access the area on foot. Due to COVID-19, Shenandoah National Park is only open to a limited number of visitors. Check out Shenandoah’s Alerts and Closures for the most up-to-date information.

Park Entrance Fee

Entrance costs to the park are $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle, and $15 per person each day. These charges are valid for seven days. A $55 Shenandoah Annual Park Pass is good for one year from the date of purchase.

Hiking Trails

Hawksbill Summit
Stony Man Loop
Loft Mountain Loop
Dickey Ridge
Mary’s Rock via the Pinnacle
Radipan Camp Trail
Old Rag
Whiteoak Canyon and Cedar Run Trails
Riprap Trail

Places to visit in Shenandoah National Park

Skyline Drive
Shenandoah Natural Bridge
Dream Lake at Luray Caverns
Whiteoak Canyon Trail
Mary’s Rock Tunnel
Old Rag Mountain
Dark Hollow Falls
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum
White Oak Lavender Farm

Where to stay?

There are several beautiful lodges within the park where you can stay, but if you prefer a little more civilization and luxury amenities, surrounding resorts and hotels can give a more upscale experience.

Skyland Resort is the largest resort in Shenandoah National Park and is located at 3,680 feet above sea level on Skyline Drive. From ancient cabins to modern hotel rooms and suites, there’s something for everyone. A dining room, family-friendly entertainment, ranger-led programmes, horseback riding, and a meeting hall are all available at the resort.

Big Meadows Resort Located in Shenandoah National Park, Big Meadows Lodge is a smaller lodge with only cabins, suites, and regular rooms. A dining area, family-friendly entertainment, guided ranger programmes, and a tourist centre are all available at the resort.

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