The park is best known for
Skyline Drive, a 105
mile road that runs the entire length of the park along the ridge of
the mountains. The drive is particularly popular in the fall when the
leaves are changing colors. 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail are
also in the park. In total, there are over 500 miles of trails within
the park. Of the trails, one of the most popular is Old Rag Mountain,
which offers a thrilling rock scramble and some of the most
breathtaking views in Virginia. There is also horseback riding,
camping, bicycling, and many waterfalls. The Skyline Drive is
designated as a National Scenic Byway.
Shenandoah National Park offers 196,000 acres of
backcountry and wilderness camping. While in the backcountry, campers
must use a "Leave No Trace" policy that includes burying excrement and
not building campfires. Backcountry campers must also be careful of
wildlife such as 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, who then
become habituated to humans and their food and therefore dangerous.
All animals are protected by federal law.
Campgrounds and cabins
Most of the campgrounds are open from April to
October–November. There are five major campgrounds:
There are three lodges/cabins:
Lodges are located at Skyland and Big Meadows.
The Park's Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center is also located at Big
Meadows. Another visitor center is located at Dickey Ridge.
Campgrounds are located at Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, Lewis Mountain,
and Loft Mountain.
Rapidan Camp, the restored presidential fishing
retreat Herbert Hoover built on the Rapidan River in 1929, is accessed
by a 4.1-mile (6.6 km) round-trip hike on Mill Prong Trail, which
begins on the Skyline Drive at Milam Gap (Mile 52.8). The NPS also
offers guided van trips that leave from the Byrd Center at Big
Shenandoah National Park is one of the most
dog-friendly in the national park system. The campgrounds all allow
dogs, and dogs are allowed on almost all of the trails including the
Appalachian Trail, if kept on leash (6 feet or shorter).
Streams and rivers in the park are very popular
with fly fisherman for native brook trout.
Many waterfalls are located within the park
boundaries. Below is a list of significant falls.
It is located near the Byrd Visitor Center. The
trail is at the edge of a stream which enhances the enjoyment. During
the hike, birds, butterflies, deer and occasionally black bear and
timber rattlesnake can be seen, but these have not been known to harm
Visitors who hike down to see the waterfall call
it a worthwhile experience. The trail is a steep hike down about ¾
mile, with no restrooms or emergency shelter. Those who make this hike
should be prepared, preferably carrying a bottle of water, and
avoiding the hike altogether if there is any prediction of rain. The
return trip up to the parking lot is very steep, and may be exhausting
for some, especially older persons and those not accustomed to