December 13, 2017

Shenandoah National Park – Overview, History, & Attractions

Located only seventy five miles from the nation’s capital, Shenandoah National Park, in the State of Virginia, is a quiet and tranquil location. Here you can find ancient forest, majestic mountains, and the most amazing panoramas. No matter what time of the year you visit, the sights and sounds of the parks beautiful environment will lift your spirits. During the spring, the ground is ablaze with an assortment of wildflowers, whilst in the fall, the colors of the foliage take the breath away.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah is different from many of the nations’ national parks in so much that it was inhabited by settlers for more than a century. To give the area a protected status, officials of Virginia acquired more than one thousand tracts of donated and privately owned land. It was the first and only time that such a huge area of once private land has been converted into a federally protected national park. Shenandoah was designated a national park in 1926, and then further areas were added during 1935, 1976, and 1978.

Originally, much of the land consisted of logging forest and farms. Fortunately, today, it is hard for the untrained eye to identify which areas where used for agriculture and lumber as the natural ecosystems have once again taken over. There are now more than five hundred miles of rugged trails, including the internationally renowned Appalachian Trail. The park contains more than fifty mammal species, two hundred transient and resident bird species, thirty different types of fish, and as of 2009, fifty one amphibians and reptiles.

One of the best ways to get a feel for the incredible nature that abounds in Shenandoah, is to take a trip along the Skyline Drive. This roadway traverses one hundred miles across the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers incredible vistas. At any point on the Skyline, you can step outside of your vehicle and soak up the beautiful environment, replete with sights and smells that enliven the soul.

If you have a dog, you will be pleased to discover that Shenandoah is one of only a few parks in the country where pets are allowed. Your dog can also explore the various trails and hikes by your side.

Apart from the Skyline Drive there are other walks that are worthy of mentioning. Traces Trail is a gentle two mile pathway that leads visitors through a timeless oak forest. It is still possible to catch a glimpse of old artefacts and construction from the first settlers’ time.

If you are planning a spring visit to the park, consider walking the Hightop Summit Trail. This gentle three mile walk would allow you to spot and photograph some of the parks most colorful wildflowers. For a full 360 degree view of the surrounding area, plan a trip to the top of Bear Fence Mountain.

The entrance fee for Shenandoah varies depending on the time of year. If you plan on parking outside the gates and walking in, you will be charged $8 between March and November for a seven day pass, and $5 if visiting from December to February.

For more information visit http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/hiking.htm

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