Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

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!

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Image Credit: Shenandoah National Park

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.

(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.)

Fees

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.

  • Shenandoah "Per Person" Fee (walk-up or single bicycle fee): $10, unlimited entry for seven consecutive days
  • Shenandoah Motorcycle Fee: $20, unlimited entry for one motorcycle and passenger for seven
    consecutive days
  • Shenandoah Single Vehicle Fee (vehicles must be private, noncommercial, and with a seating
    capacity of 15 or less): $25, unlimited entry for one vehicle and passengers for seven
    consecutive days

Fee free days include the following:

  • January 19 -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • February 14 through February 16 -- Presidents' Day weekend
  • April 18 and April 19 -- First weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25 -- National Park Service's Birthday
  • September 26 -- National Public Lands Day
  • November 11 -- Veterans Day

Activities

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.

Facilities

  • Restrooms
  • Lodging
  • Picnic grounds and campgrounds
  • Gift shops
  • Restaurants

Accessibility

Most facilities and services in the park are accessible or accessible with assistance.

Restrooms and Buildings: Most are accessible or accessible with assistance.

Lodging: Accessible overnight lodging is available at Lewis Mountain, Skyland Resort, and Big Meadows Lodge. Click here for more information about accommodations.

Picnic Grounds and Campgrounds: Accessible sites are available at all park picnic grounds and campgrounds. Accessible shower and laundry facilities are available at Big Meadows, Lewis Mountain, and Loft Mountain campgrounds. Restrooms at picnic grounds are accessible or accessible with assistance.

Ranger Programs: Many of Shenandoah's ranger-led programs are accessible, including the van tour to President Herbert Hoover's historic summer retreat, Rapidan Camp. Click here for a listing.

Limberlost Trail (milepost 43), is often enjoyed by people with mobility challenges. The trail was originally constructed to meet ADA accessibility standards; however, the requirements have recently been revised. Shenandoah National Park has plans to upgrade Limberlost to meet the new standards. In the meantime, use this description of the trail to determine if it is appropriate for your use: This circuit hike of 1.3 miles is for people of all ages and has a 5'-wide crushed greenstone walkway on a gentle grade with frequent benches, a boardwalk, and a bridge. The trail passes through forest and a stand of mountain laurel - stunningly beautiful when it blooms in June.

Pets

In addition to considering your pet's well-being, please be aware of the following pet-related policies and regulations: Your pet must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times; pets are allowed in campgrounds and pet-friendly lodging is available; pets are allowed, if leashed, on most trails; pets are not allowed on Ranger Programs

Weather

Last updated: September 06, 2017
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