Shenandoah National Park   3 comments

Shenandoah NP 00Where Is It: Washington, DC is 62 miles from the Front Royal entrance. Richmond, VA is 87 miles from the South entrance.

The Birth: From National Parks Traveler:

It was long before President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah on December 26, 1936, perhaps as many as 9,000 years ago, that the rumpled landscape of mountains, hollows, ridge-tops, and valleys were home to Native Americans, who later were replaced by hardy white settlers who scraped out a living from the land.

Much like the settlers of Great Smoky, the Virginians had a hard life of farming the thin mountain soil and living off the land. When the Great Depression struck in the 1920s, it was a death knell for the local communities. Between the Depression and the parks movement, many of the communities vanished from the landscape. Some remnants — old orchards, stone fence lines — linger, though time is slowly taking them over.

In 1926, Congress authorized the park, under the condition that no federal funds be used to purchase the land. The State of Virginia slowly acquired land along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, forming a 100-mile-long swath of parkland. Shenandoah National Park was born.

Shenandoah’s struggles were far from over, however. Even before the park was officially created, National Park Service officials were discussing segregation. Jim Crow laws forced the agency to create black-only visitor centers, campgrounds, and even picnic areas. Slowly, though, the Civil Rights Movement broke down many of those barriers. Still, traces of black-only signs and buildings can be found in the park, slowly fading away. A new exhibit in the Byrd Visitor Center tells the story of segregation in the park.

While today’s presidents often head to Camp David to flee Washington, D.C., back in the 1920s a similar retreat was established at Shenandoah. In fact, it was President Herbert Hoover who put the location on the political map with his frequent retreats to a small, woodsy compound first known as Camp Rapidan and later referred to simply as Camp Hoover.

It Happened Here: From National

Shenandoah National Park was built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a government jobs program created during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Workers constructed the rock walls, overlooks, picnic grounds, campgrounds, trails, and the Skyline Drive. They also planted the mountain laurel that lines the road, and built more than 340 structures in the park, many now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The work of the CCC is commemorated by a statue of a CCC worker, Iron Mike.

Size: 197,411 acres

# Visitors: 1,210,200 in 2012. Attendance peaks in July/August, and is at the lowest in December/January.

Plants: From the NPS website:

The park’s Mid-Atlantic location straddles conditions of both the Northern and Southern Appalachian mountains allowing everything from lichens to oak trees to thrive. Over 1400 species of vascular plants are found in the park, though fewer than one hundred of these are the familiar trees and shrubs most noticeable to park visitors. The forests within Shenandoah National Park are generally classified as “oak-hickory”, yet they contain far more than just oak and hickory trees to discover. The park’s 70 mile length and 3500 foot elevation range create numerous habitats able to support a variety of forest cover types.

Animals: You can see big mammals in the park such as deer and bear … but there are also over 200 species of birds that live in, or migrate through, the Park. 18 species of warblers breed in the Park. Year-round species include tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees and barred owls.

Choices: From Wikipedia:

The park is best known for 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. 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.

Fees: $10 per vehicle, December – February. $15 per vehicle, March – November.

Staying There: Shenandoah has two main lodges as well as visitor cabins available. Camping is available in both the back country and the front country.

Contact Info:

3655 Hwy 211 East
Luray, VA 22835
Information Line: (540) 999-3500

Current Issues: The Park banned all outside firewood in 2010 in an effort to slow the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, which has killed millions of ash trees.

Don’t Miss This:


National Park Service: Shenandoah National Park

Terra Galleria: Shenandoah National Park

West Coast Lens: Sky Line Drive

The Great American Parks Trip: Shenandoah The Beautiful

3 responses to “Shenandoah National Park

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: There’s Nothing Like A Hike |

  2. Pingback: H2O |

  3. Pingback: Find Your Path |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: