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Shenandoah National Park

Photo © jcorilio

Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States Virginia Shenandoah National Park

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Introduction

Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. The Park headquarters are located in Luray.

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Geography

The park encompasses parts of eight counties. On the west side of Skyline Drive they are, from northeast to southwest, Warren, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta counties. On the east side of Skyline Drive they are Rappahannock, Madison, Greene, and Albemarle counties. The park stretches for 169 kilometres along Skyline Drive from near the town of Front Royal in the northeast to near the city of Waynesboro in the southwest.
This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and Valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east. Although the scenic Skyline Drive is likely the most prominent feature of the Park, almost 40% of the land area has been designated as wilderness and is protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The highest peak is Hawksbill Mountain at 1,235 metres.

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Sights and Activities

Skyline Drive

The park is best known for Skyline Drive, that runs the entire length of the park along the ridge of the mountains. The drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. Over 160 kilometres of the Appalachian Trail are also in the park. In total, there are over 800 kilometres of trails within the park. Of the trails, one of the most popular is Old Rag Mountain, which offers a thrilling rock scramble and some of the most breathtaking views in Virginia. There is also horseback riding, camping, bicycling, and many waterfalls. The Skyline Drive is the first National Park Service road east of the Mississippi River listed as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also designated as a National Scenic Byway.

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Opening Hours

Shenandoah National Park is always open. However, portions of Skyline Drive, the only public road through the park, are periodically closed during inclement weather and at night during deer hunting season, mid-November through early January. Visitors can still enter the park on foot to hike even when the Drive is closed.

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Cost

It costs US$ 10 for persons (foot, bicycle) and US$ 20 per car, both valid for 7 days.

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Getting There and Around

There are four entrances into Shenandoah National Park and numerous gateway communities that offer services. The park's four entrances are located at:

  • Front Royal, accessible via I-66 and Route 340
  • Thornton Gap, accessible via Route 211
  • Swift Run Gap, accessible via Route 33
  • Rockfish Gap, accessible via I-64 and Route 250 (Rockfish Gap is also the northern entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway)

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Eat

The park has 6 picnic grounds and an uncountable number of spots where people can eat their own food, but build fires only in designated areas with grates. There are camp stores at or near all designated camp grounds, and only a few places where food is being served:

  • Elkwallow, Mile 24.1, Skyline Dr. Limited range of sandwiches and grilled food. No seating spaces indoor but there are picnic tables outside. edit
  • Skyland, Mile 41.7, Skyline Dr. This is part of the Skyland complex and offers dining with a view. edit
  • Big Meadows Wayside, Mile 51.2, Skyline Dr. Offers eat-in and take-away food. Country food and cakes. edit
  • Big Meadows Lodge, Follow signs from Skyline Drive mile 51.2. Dining room service in a rustic setting. edit
  • Loft Mountain, Mile 79.5, Skyline Dr. Seating inside and outside

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Drink

There are no bars in the area. Bring plenty of water if you are planning to go hiking.

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Sleep

There are three lodges in the park located at Skyland, Big Meadows and Lewis Mountain. These lodges are about the only accommodation in the park and they can be fully booked for months, especially during high season.

There are four campgrounds that offer sites on a first-come, first-serve basis and by reservation at phone number +1-877-444-6777.

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Shenandoah National Park Travel Helpers

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This is version 1. Last edited at 11:14 on Sep 3, 15 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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