Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East
Luray, VA 22835-9036
Shenandoah National Park spans a beautiful section of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. And with the Shenandoah River flowing through the valley to the west and the Massanutten Mountain standing between the river's north and south forks, the scene in this region is amazing to behold.
The best way for visitors to explore this national park -- located just a couple hours from Washington, D.C. -- is to hike some of the more than 500 miles of trails. Furthermore, Skyline Drive is something that can't be missed. This 105-mile road winds along the crest of the mountains through the length of the park, providing vistas of the spectacular landscape to the east and the west.
Entrance fees: $10/vehicle for 7 days or $5/individual for 7 days
Visitor centers: Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and Harry F. Byrd Sr. Visitor Center are open from mid-spring through late fall.
Other services: Two lodges, various cabins, and five campgrounds
- Four campgrounds are open from spring through late October or late November. Some reservations are available. 800-365-CAMP.
- Backcountry camping is also available.
- Skyline Resort is open from late March to late November. 800-999-4714.
- Big Mountain Lodge is open from late April to early November. 800-999-4714.
Visiting Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park, nearly 200,000 acres in size, extends about 75 miles from Front Royal, Virginia, in the north to Turk Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia, in the south. The primary focus of the park is the spectacular Skyline Drive, which follows the ridgeline crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
On either side of the winding blacktop road, the park forms a wide buffer zone between forest and meadow. As a result, Shenandoah has often been compared in its shape to a native Blue Ridge salamander with the road constituting its spine.
Visitors to Shenandoah National Park will enjoy its fabulous spring flower and autumn leaf displays as well as its numerous waterfalls. The tallest waterfall is near Mile 22 on the Skyline Drive and is nearly 100 feet in height. But it is not alone; nearly a dozen waterfalls in the park drop more than 40 feet.
The park is also known for its ancient rock formations, comprised primarily of greenstone and granite. Geologists date the rock in some of the mountain tops and side cliffs at more than one billion years old. This is quite a bit older than the surface rock normally found in the parks of the Far West.
Take a look at the next page for an examination of Shenandoah National Park's sightseeing opportunities.