Shenandoah National Park is one of my favorite National Parks that I've been to so far! It's definitely an under appreciated park, and my opinion is probably not a popular one, but something about this park always draws me to it! Shenandoah is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and offers a variety of waterfalls, swimming holes, campgrounds, and stunning views!
Address: According to the NPS website, there are four addresses depending on which entrance you are using.
Front Royal (North Entrance): 21073 Skyline Drive, Front Royal, Virginia 22630
Thornton Gap: 31339 Skyline Drive, Luray, Virginia 22835
Swift Run Gap: 22591 Spotswood Trail, Elkton, Virginia 22827
Rockfish Gap (South Entrance): 282 Skyline Drive, Waynesboro, Virginia 22980
Hours: Shenandoah National Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays!
Weather: I've been to Shenandoah twice in the fall and once in the summer, and based on my experiences, I have noticed the weather is pretty consistent with normal Middle-East coast seasonal weather. Fall offers cooler weather dependent on when in the fall you go, but temperature drops at night. During the summer, the weather is typically pretty warm and humid. I have never been to Shenandoah in the Winter, however, my parents went in March and there was a big snowstorm.
Here are the prices for Shenandoah National Park, as well as other standard passes offered by the NPS.
Shenandoah National Park Private Vehicle Day Pass: $30.00
Shenandoah National Park Motorcycle Day Pass: $25.00
Shenandoah National Park Annual Entrance Pass: $55.00
America the Beautiful Annual Pass: $80.00 (Good for all National Parks)
Military Pass: Free Annual Pass to all National Parks for Active Duty Military, US Military Veterans, and Gold Star Family Members
4th Grade Pass: Free pass for 4th Graders for duration of school year
Senior Park Pass (62+): $20 Annual Pass to any National Park or $80 Lifetime Membership
Access Pass: Free Lifetime Pass to any National Park for US Citizens with permanent disabilities
Volunteer Pass: Free Annual Pass to any National Park for volunteers with 250 service hours with federal agencies (agencies must participate in Interagency Pass Program)
Pets are allowed on most trails in Shenandoah National Park, as well as campgrounds and pet friendly lodges. The following trails in the park do not allow dogs:
Fox Hollow Trail
Stony Man Trail
Post Office Junction to Old Rag Shelter
Old Rag Ridge Trail
Old Rag Saddle Trail
Ridge Access Trail
Dark Hollow Falls Trail
Story of the Forest Trail
Bearfence Mountain Trail
Frazier Discovery Trail
Parking and Getting Around:
Shenandoah does not operate with a Shuttle Bus System, however there is a lot of parking options throughout the park. Be mindful that during popular seasons and weekends, parking will fill up a lot quicker than during the off season / during the week. I personally have never had an issue parking anywhere in the park, but I have seen the lots fill up very quickly. Almost every trailhead and entrance station offers parking.
My recommendation for viewpoints without hikes is simply to drive along Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive is a 105-mile National Parkway that runs the entire length of the park. There are several viewpoints to stop and check out throughout this drive, including Range View Overlook, Hogback Overlook, Splitter Knoll Overlook, Big Run Overlook, and Crimora Lake Overlook.
Shenandoah has several hiking trails ranging in views, elevation gain, and difficulty. Visit the National Park website (nps.org) for an official description of each hiking trail to figure out which is the best for you! These are not all of the hikes the park, but below are some of the popular hikes.
Bearfence Rock Scramble (1.4-mile round trip hike with 311 feet of elevation gain)*
Bearfance Viewpoint (1.1-mile round trip with 305 feet of elevation gain)*
Blackrock Summit (1-mile round trip with 175 feet of elevation gain)
Chimney Rock (3.4-miles round trip with 830 feet of elevation gain)
Dark Hollow Falls (1.4-miles round trip with 440 feet of elevation gain)*
Doyles River Falls (3.3-miles round trip with 1,189 feet of elevation gain)
Hawksbill Loop (2.9-miles round trip with 860 feet of elevation gain)*
Hawksbill Summit (1.7-miles round trip with 690 feet of elevation gain)*
Mary's Rock Summit (3.7-miles round trip with 1,210 feet of elevation gain)*
Old Rag Circuit (9.4-miles round trip with 2,348 feet of elevation gain)*
Rose River Falls (4-miles round trip with 910 feet of elevation gain)*
Stony Man (1.6-miles round trip with 340 feet of elevation gain)*
Turk Mountain (2.2-miles round trip with 690 feet of elevation gain)
Whiteoak Falls (2-miles round trip with 500 feet of elevation gain)*
* These are the trails I've done in Shenandoah National Park.
Campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park are open seasonally (early spring to late fall) There are 5 campgrounds available at Shenandoah National Park: Dundo Group Campground, Loft Mountain Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground, Big Meadows Campground, Mathews Arm Campground.
I hope you enjoyed reading about one of my favorite National Parks, and I hope this encourages you to visit this beautiful place! Feel free to leave a comment with anything you would like to add, or if I left something out. As always, please practice the LNT principles when visiting the National Parks :) Thanks for reading, and remember, there's always more to be explored!
*Information provided from personal experience, as well as nps.gov , more information about Shenandoah National Park can be found at
Map of Shenandoah National Park: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/maps.htm