The Ultimate Guide To Virginia's Shenandoah National Park
By Megan Shute|Published October 07, 2022
With more than 10 years of experience as a professional writer, Megan holds a degree in Mass Media from her home state of Minnesota. After college, she chose to trade in her winter boots for slippahs and moved to the beautiful island of Oahu, where she has been living for more than five years. She lives on the west side but is constantly taking mini-road trips across the island and visits the neighboring islands whenever she can getaway. She loves hiking, snorkeling, locally-grown coffee, and finding the best acai bowl on Oahu.
Protecting more than 200,000 acres of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains just 75 miles south of Washington D.C., Shenandoah National Park is home to panoramic views seen from countless overlooks, cascading waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, and serene wooded hollows. In the nearly nine decades since Shenandoah National Park was established, it has been a beacon of paradise for nature lovers across the east coast. Perhaps surprisingly, Shenandoah is one of America’s lesser-visited national parks, with just 1.4 million visitors in 2019, compared to 14 million visitors to the most-visited national park in the USA, the Great Smoky Mountains. Take a chance on Shenandoah, though, for this underrated wonder has so much to offer outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, including some of the best hiking trails in the U.S.
If you’re planning a visit to this incredible national park, there’s no better time to visit than during National Park Week. Learn all about this celebration of America’s great outdoors — including fee-free days throughout the year!
No matter what sort of outdoor adventures you prefer, Shenandoah National Park is a truly magnificent destination for a getaway. So, tell us, are you ready to pack your bags for a Virginia national park adventure like no other? For more information about Shenandoah National Park, including everything you need to know about planning your trip, please visit the National Park Service’s website. We suggest saving this map of the park before you visit.
Need To Know Information About Shenandoah National Park
Accessibility: With its variety of accessible hiking trails, picnic sites, campgrounds, and visitor centers, Shenandoah National Park is an incredibly accessible park. The park also offers assistive listening devices, braille brochures, and audio descriptions (available via the free Shenandoah National Park App) of its overlooks and notable features.
Pet Friendly: Shenandoah National Park is one of the few dog-friendly national parks, with the majority of trails open to pets on leashes.
Parking: Spanning more than 100 miles, there are four entrances to Shenandoah National Park — Front Royal to the north, Rockfish Gap to the south, Thornton Gap, and Swift Run Gap — and countless places to park. Parking is permitted at trailheads where spaces are provided and at entrance stations if space permits. Visitor Centers, picnic areas, waysides, and overlooks also have parking spaces. Just be sure you are not blocking Skyline Drive, administrative/fire roads, or overlooks.
Seasonal Access: Shenandoah National Park is open year-round; however, portions of Skyline Drive, the only public road through the Park, are periodically closed during inclement weather. There are benefits to visiting any time of year, with autumn boasting some of the most incredible fall colors in the country. One thing to note: within the park, the mountains can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the valleys, so it’s important to dress accordingly!