Shenandoah National Park

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

Location: Virginia

Park Tally: 23/59

Orientation: Nestled in the lush Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is bursting with recreational opportunities. The park is long and narrow, with the famed Skyline Drive running the entire length of the park (105 miles). Visitors flock to Shenandoah for sight-seeing, hiking, camping, cycling, fishing, rock climbing and horseback riding – whether it be for only a few hours or for a week or more. The park has something for everyone!

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Most iconic view: Skyline Drive is the best-known feature of Shenandoah. The 105-mile scenic road runs down the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has 75 overlooks for visitors to take in the stunning views. The drive is generally open 24 hours a day/7 days a week but this can be dependent on road and weather conditions.

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Accessible activity: The park has 500+ miles of trails, ranging from easy – strenuous. A scenic and short hike in the south section of the park is Blackrock Summit (1-mile roundtrip). This is also a “Track Trail for Kids”, which is a fantastic initiative to help encourage children and families explore the outdoors.

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Little Stony Man Cliffs can be found in the central section of Shenandoah and has 2 trail options – long or short. The long option covers 4.2-miles and is considered moderately strenuous, whereas the short option is 0.9-miles and is rated easy. Both hikes provide beautiful scenic views over the west side of the park.

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For the adventurous: A very popular day-hike in the park is Old Rag Mountain. The strenuous loop hike covers 9.1-miles (roundtrip) and involves some challenging rock scrambling and steep inclines. The summit offers stunning panoramic views and ample spots to rest up and prepare for the hike back down.

The Appalachian Trail (AT) is another popular hike in the park, with 1000+ ‘thru-hikers’ coming to Shenandoah each year on the trail. Many shorter hikes in the park intersect with the AT and section hiking the trail is an option for avid trail-lovers.

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Best photo opportunities: We found the sunset views from Little Stony Man Cliffs (short, 0.9-mile hike) and nearby Stony Man Overlook (along Skyline Drive) to be very scenic. Be sure to stay around a little after sunset for peaceful “blue hour” moments over the valley below.

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Quick facts

  • Shenandoah National Park was established on May 22, 1926.
  • Skyline Drive joins onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • The park is home to the state’s oldest rock, dating back one billion years!
  • Shenandoah also has Virginia’s largest black bear refuge and is considered one of the densest populations of black bears in the country.
  • President Herbert Hoover enjoyed spending his summers at Shenandoah’s Rapidan Camp, a retreat of 13 cabins.
  • The 2,184-mile Appalachian Trail runs through Shenandoah for 101-miles.
  • The park is home to the endangered Shenandoah Salamander, an amphibian that breathes through its skin.
  • In 2016, Shenandoah National Park had 1,437,341 visitors.

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