Shenandoah National Park

Missing image

Designation National Park
Location West Central Virginia, United States
Nearest cities Front Royal, Virginia, Luray, Virginia, Waynesboro, Virginia
Coordinates Template:Coor dm
Area 199,017 acres
80,539 ha
Visitation 1,511,016 (2002)
Date of establishment Authorized May 22, 1926, established December 26, 1935
Governing body National Park Service
IUCN category II (National Park)

Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Piedmont region of Virginia. The national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east. Almost 40 % of the land area (79,579 acres or 322 km²) has been designated as Wilderness and is protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The highest peak is Hawksbill Mountain at 4,051 feet (1,235 m).



Missing image
Skyline Drive

The park is best known for the Skyline Drive, a 105 mile (169 km) 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 (162 km) of the Appalachian Trail are also in the park. In total, there are over 500 miles (800 km) of trails within the park. There is also horseback riding, camping, bicycling, and many waterfalls.


The climate of the park is typical eastern mid-Atlantic woodland and only the highest points of the mountains show much change or alteration of typical flora and fauna species as might be found at sea level. On southwestern faces of some of the southernmost hillsides pine predominates and there is also the occasional prickly pear cactus which grows naturally. In contrast, some of the northeastern aspects are most likely to have small but dense stands of moisture loving Hemlocks and mosses in abundance. Other commonly found plants include oak, hickory, chestnut, maple, tulip poplar, mountain laurel, milkweed, daisies, and many species of ferns. The once predominant American Chestnut tree was brought to extinction inadvertently by a fungus known as the Chestnut blight during the 1930's. Though the American Chestnut tree continues to grow in the park, it does not reach maturity and dies back before it can reproduce. Various species of Oaks superseded the Chestnuts and became the dominant tree species. Gypsy moth infestations beginning in the early 1990's began to erode the dominance of the oak forests as the moths would primarily consume the leaves of oak trees. Though the Gypsy moths seem to have abated some, they continue to affect the forest and have destroyed almost 10 percent of the oak groves.

  • Over 200 species of birds make their home in the park for at least part of the year. About thirty live in the park year round, including barred owls, Carolina chickadees, Red-tailed Hawks, and wild turkeys. The Peregrine Falcon was reintroduced into the park in the mid 1990's and by the end of the 20th century there were numerous nesting pairs in the park.


Falls Height Location Description
Overall Run 93 ft. (28 m.) Mile 21.1, parking lot just south of Hogback Overlook The tallest waterfall in the park. 6.4 mile round trip hike
Whiteoak Canyon 86 ft. (28 m.) Mile 42.6, Whiteoak Canyon parking area Whiteoak Canyon has a series of six waterfalls, the first (and tallest) is 86 feet. Not all the falls are easily accessible from the trail.
Cedar Run 34 ft. (10 m.) Mile 45.6, Hawksbill Gap parking area Difficult 3.4 mile round trip hike
Rose River 67 ft. (20 m.) Mile 49.4, parking at Fishers Gap Overlook A 2.6 mile round trip hike. Can also be done as a longer loop hike.
Dark Hollow Falls 70 ft. (21 m.) Mile 50.7, Dark Hollow Falls parking area 1.4 mile round trip hike. The closest waterfall to Skyline Drive and the most popular. No pets allowed on this trail.
Lewis Falls 81 ft. (25 m.) Mile 51.4, parking lot just south of Big Meadows, next to a service road 2 mile round trip hike.
South River Falls 83 ft. (25 m.) Mile 62.8, park at South River picnic area 3.3 mile loop hike to an overlook above the falls. There is also a 1 mile round trip spur trail that goes to the base of the falls.
Doyles River Falls 28 ft. (9 m.) and 63 ft. (19 m.) Mile 81.1, Doyles River parking area A 3 mile round trip hike to see both the upper and lower falls. Be sure to go a little past the lower falls viewing spot for a better view. Can also be turned into a 7.8 mile loop trail that also goes by Jones Run Falls
Jones Run Falls 42 ft. (13 m.) Mile 84.1, Jones Run parking area A 3.6 mile round trip hike. Can also be turned into a longer loop hike that goes by Doyles River upper and lower falls
Missing image
Rose River falls
Missing image
Jones Run falls


Shenandoah was authorized in 1926 and fully established on December 26, 1935. Prior to being a park, much of the area was farmland and there are still remnants of old farms in several places. The state of Virginia slowly acquired the land from landowners and then gave it to the U.S. Government provided it would be designated a National Park.

In the creation of the park and the Skyline Drive, a number of families and entire communities were required to vacate portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many residents in the 500 homes in eight affected counties of Virginia were vehemently opposed to losing their homes and communities. Most of the families removed came from Madison County, Page County, and Rappahannock County.

The development of the park and the Skyline Drive created badly needed jobs for many Virginians during the Great Depression. Nearly 90% of the inhabitants worked the land for a living. Many worked in the apple orchards in the valley and in areas near the eastern slopes. The work to create the National Park and the Skyline Drive began following a terrible drought in 1930 which destroyed the crops of many families in the area who farmed in the mountainous terrain, as well as many of the apple orchards were they worked picking crops. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that they were displaced, often against their will, and even for a very few who managed to stay, their communities were lost. A little-known fact is that, while some families were removed by force, a few others (who mostly had also become difficult to deal with) were allowed to stay after their properties were acquired, living in the park until nature took its course and they gradually died. The last to die was Annie Lee Bradley Shenk who died in 1979 at age 92. Most of the people displaced left their homes quietly. According to the Virginia Historical Society, eighty-five-year-old Hezekiah Lam explained, "I ain't so crazy about leavin' these hills but I never believed in bein' ag'in (against) the Government. I signed everythin' they asked me." [1] ( The lost communities and homes were a price paid for one of the country's most beautiful National Parks and scenic roadways.

U.S. President Herbert Hoover selected a spot on the Rapidan River for what would become a 164 acre (664,000 m²) presidential retreat, Camp Hoover.

See also

External links

Template:National parks of the United States



  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools