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Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is your escape to recreation and re-creation. Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—plan a hike, a meander along Skyline Drive, or a picnic with the family. 200,000 acres of protected lands are haven to deer, songbirds, and the night sky. Shenandoah National Park is 105 miles long stretching from Front Royal, Virginia to the Waynesboro-Charlottesville area. Skyline Drive is the scenic roadway that takes you through the park. There are four entrances (and exits) to the park.
Four distinct seasons make Shenandoah a new and exciting place to be each and every month. Although best known for its vibrant fall foliage, the park is no less spectacular (and a lot less crowded) in spring when the wildflowers and trees are in full bloom. Summer brings lush greens and welcome relief from the valley temperatures. The park’s elevation encourages as much as a 10 degree difference. That same difference can bring dramatic changes in winter. When surrounding lowlands are experiencing rain, the park can be blanketed in snow and ice. But the clear skies and bare trees of winter make the park’s vistas magnificent and wildlife tracking and viewing particularly rewarding.
From planning your hike to Shenandoah’s highest peak, to checking on evening entertainment, the only thing you can’t plan is where to see that bear or deer-that will have to be a surprise!
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.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
Shenandoah National Park is one of about 150 park service units that charge an entry fee. 80% of the fees collected at Shenandoah are returned to the park for specific projects.
Visitors to Shenandoah can purchase a one to seven day entrance permit or one of several annual or life-time passes at Shenandoah's entrance stations.
Fee free days include the following:
Whether you have an hour, a day, or a week, you can plan a great visit to Shenandoah National Park. Even if you are just passing through the region, use Skyline Drive for a portion of your route. Traveling from one of the four entrances to the next exit takes about an hour. Along the way you will see the beautiful vistas Shenandoah is known for.
If you can spend the day, check the Ranger Programs schedule for a hike, walk, or talk that interests you. Stop by a Visitor Center to get hiking suggestions, and see the exhibits and movies. Or go birdwatching, wander in Big Meadows, or try an earthcache.
A week (or more!) in Shenandoah will fly by with hiking, evening programs at the campgrounds, entertainment at the lodges, visits to our cultural sites and exhibits, and excursions to nearby attractions.