Shenandoah National Park is located in the U.S. state of Virginia. Almost 40% of the land area of 79,579 acres has been designated as wilderness and is protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The highest peak here is the Hawksbill Mountain at 4,051 feet, part of Blue Ridge Mountains. Some historians say that the name Shenandoah comes from three Indian names: Senedo, Cenantua and Sherando. The fee to visit the park for 7 days is $10/car and 5/individual.
The park is surrounded by 8 counties. Rappahannock, Madison, Greene, Albemarle, Warren, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta counties. The park stretches for 105 miles along Skyline Drive from near the town of Front Royal in the Northeast to near the city of Waynesboro in the Southwest.
Shenandoah was authorized in 1926 and fully established on December 26, 1935 as a National Park. In the past much of the park area was farmland and even today you can see remnants of old farms in several places. Nearly 90% of the people who lived here worked the land for a living.
The park main attractions are the skyline drive and the backcountry camping.
The Skyline Drive is a 105 mile road that passes the entire length of the park along the ridge of the mountains. The most spectacular period to pass through here is in the fall season when the leaves are changing colors. You could also use one of the 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. In total, there are over 500 miles of trails within the Shenandoah National Park. One of the most popular trails is called the Old Rag Mountain, which offers a thrilling rock scramble and some of the most spectacular views in Virginia. You can practice horseback riding, camping, bicycling on this trail and admire many waterfalls.
In the Shenandoah National Park you could use a small place from the total of 196,000 acres of backcountry and wilderness camping which the park offer. You’re not allowed to leave any kind of remains behind or build a campfire. You must also be careful of wildlife animals here. You can encounter poisonous snakes and bears. Campers must suspend their food from trees while not in use in “bear bags” or park-approved bear canisters to prevent unintentionally feeding the bears. All animals are protected by federal law in this park.
Most of the campgrounds are open from April to October–November and you can stay at one of the most popular campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park like Mathews Arm Campground, Big Meadows Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground or Loft Mountain Campground. You will have part of shower facilities but no electrical hookups. In order to primitive camp in the area you will need first to obtain a permit.
You can visit the caves near by the park. For a fee a guide will show you the underground stone sculptures. The Luray Caverns located in Luray, Virginia. You can see rare rock formations of anthodites, beautiful rock flowers growing out of the limestone walls if you visit the Skyline Caverns.
If you want to spend only one day here, you can admire the exhibits at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadow. You can fish here if you have a permit, rent a horse or take your bike and visit the areas. Shenandoah National Park is one of the most dog-friendly parks in the U.S. All the campgrounds allow dogs. Just don’t forget to put your dog leash when you go hiking. Over 200 species of birds and thirty two species of fish have been documented in the park. So, don’t forget your camera.
You can go to one of the numerous waterfalls located in the Shenandoah National Park. The tallest waterfall in the park has a high of 93 feet. In the Whiteoak Canyon you can admire a series of six waterfalls; the first (and tallest) is 86 feet. You should know that not all the falls are easily accessible from the trail. You could go on the Dark Hollow Falls which is a scenic trail of the Skyline drive which ends in waterfalls. The trail is at the edge of a stream which enhances the enjoyment. Some visitors are lucky enough to see deer’s and occasionally black bear and timber rattlesnake during the hike.
To admire the sunset, of course if you want to do that, best place is from the cliff situated at the end of the Stony Man Trail, of the most scenic trails in the Skyline Drive. Pay attention; you are not allowed with dogs on this trail. This year at Shenandoah National Park is the 75th Anniversary Celebration. You can take part at special events in the park.