For the inhabitants of the Washington DC, the Shenandoah National Park is a perfect escape on the holidays as it is comfortably accessible in just 90 minutes from the Capital Beltway. Besides soaking into the spectacular scenery in the awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the visitors including the locals as well as the foreigners also like to experience its several recreational activities. On this lakhs of acres, more than 500 miles are dedicated to the trails of which 101 miles are of the world-wide popular Appalachian Trail. In addition, the Shenandoah National Park is most admired for its breathtaking panoramic vistas along Skyline Drive that is over 100-mile path meandering via the entire park.
One of the most loved things to do in the Shenandoah National Park is definitely to hike and walk. Opt for a guided hike tour, which is on offer throughout the year. But before that, visit the Visitor Center for registering for the ranger guided hike and to know the schedule. It is nestled on the Skyline Drive’s Milepost 51 and is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Horseback riding is also fun with over 150 miles of dedicated trails here. From April to November, guided trail rides are on offer, which leave from the Skyland Resort (at Milepost 41.7)’s stable. For children, pony rides are also available. However, riders need to be at least 4’10”.
Bicycling is also possible here along the paved areas as well as on the Skyline Drive. However, it is banned on the grassy areas, unpaved routes, and trails. Above all, it is shocking to know that this sport is not encouraged here due to the steepness and the blind curves.
You can enjoy water Sports such as tubing, kayaking, canoeing, and rafting whose tours are scheduled via the private outfitters. Swimming is also allowed in any of the rivers, but you need to do so at your own risk. For more information, you can inquire at the Shenandoah River Trips or Shenandoah River Outfitters.
If you are in a park, you just cannot go without spotting the wildlife or without photography. There is not doubt that the Shenandoah National Park is a perfect wild destination to enhance your photographic abilities. Dramatic scenes and backdrops are offered by the birds, waterfalls, tall trees, and white-tailed deer.
Operated by ARAMARK are the lodges and cabins: Skyland Resort on the Skyline Drive with 178 rooms, Big Meadows Lodge with rooms as well as cabins, and Lewis Mountain Cabins. Camping is also possible for $14 per night at Mathews Arm Campground, Big Meadows Campground, and Loft Mountain Campground (waterfalls view).
Reaching the park
The park holds four entrances, which are Front Royal accessible through I-66 and Route 340, Thornton Gap through Route 211, Swift Run Gap via Route 33, and Rockfish Gap from I-64 and Route 250. From Washington DC, I had taken I-495 to reach the closest I-66 West that dropped me at the Front Royal entrance.
Admission fees (valid until next six days):
December through February: $10.00 for non-commercial vehicle
March through November: $15.00
Note: Evening Campfire Programs are on offer from June to October, while the Junior Ranger Programs for children between 7 and 12 in summer are worth attending.