The Lure of the Mountaintop
Mountaintops have always beckoned humans. To stand at the topto see as far as the eye allows, to take in the vastness of our worldis to be awed and humbled and inspired all at once.
Shenandoah National Park, established in 1935 before skyscrapers and air travel were commonplace, was designed to give millions the opportunity to travel to the top.
From the beginning, national park planners, capitalizing on the new popularity of motor cars, called for Shenandoah's "greatest single feature" to be a sky-line drive on which motorists could enjoy a leisurely drive through the Blue Ridge and where they could experience the awe and inspiration of magnificent views. Construction of Skyline Driveyour road to the topwas begun even before Congress established the national park.
Today, Skyline Drive is your portal to a multitude of experiences. Discover the rich natural and cultural stories hidden in the forests and hollows of Shenandoah. Learn about the establishment of this new park in the East that would give urban residents the national park experience that had become popular in the West.
Formed from over 1,000 privately owned tracts of land, Shenandoah started as a patchwork of forests, fields, orchards, and home sites. In 1976 Congress designated over 40 percent of the park as Wilderness, providing the highest level of protection to this precious resource.
Seasonal Change in Shenandoah
Spring may arrive at your home on some specific date, but here it climbs up the mountains about 100 feet per day starting in March with blooming red maple, hepatica, and serviceberry. Chipmunks and groundhogs appear above ground again. Trees won't leaf out on peaks until late May. Wildflowers begin to bloom in April and May, and the large-flowered trillium carpets forest floors. Pink azalea blooms in late May, mountain laurel in June. Migrating birds in colorful plumage return. Each seasonal cycle in the year is different, bringing new reasons to return to the park.
Summer wears its mantle of deep greens on ridge and hollow. Birds are nestingcatbirds, indigo buntings, and towhees. Deer fawns and bear cubs are out and about exploring and learning. The blooming wildflowers proliferate as summer progresses, covering roadsides and open areas by late summer.
Crisp fall days bring brilliant leaf colors, usually peaking between October 10 and 25. The southward migrations of birds feature hawks in large numbers flying down the ridge.
With more clear days and leaf-bare trees, winter is the time for distant views and the frozen sculptures tumbling waterfalls create. Seasons and colors change, migratory songbirds, hawks, and the monarch butterflies come and go. Shenandoah's year-round residents, deer, bears, and others, adapt to each season in turn, making each day a sight to see.
People came to the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia for rest and recreation long before Shenandoah National Park was established. Skyland Resort hosted weary urbanites for long stays starting in the late 1800s. Later, President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover built their Rapidan Camp as a retreat to escape the stress of work and summer's heat and humidity in the nation's capital. The Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) "boys" came in the 1930s to build many rustic-style park facilitiessome still seen and used todayso that everyone could retreat to the mountains for recreation and relaxation.
You can compare notes with those of earlier visitors by exploring Shenandoah's rich stories in more depth. Visit Skyland Resort and tour the restored Massanutten Lodge. Plan a trip to Rapidan Camp to see the restored presidential cabin and an exhibit about the Hoovers. Stop at the visitor centers to see films and exhibits about even more of the park's stories.
In summer and fall check the park's visitor guide Shenandoah Overlook for the ranger program schedule. Shenandoah's stories are here to be discovered. There is always more to see and do at Shenandoah National Park!
Exploring Shenandoah with Your Map and Guide
Shenandoah National Park's scenic roadway. Skyline Drive, follows the crest of the Blue Ridge mountains for 105 miles. At its southern end it joins the Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches 469 miles to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Numbered concrete mileposts on the west side of Skyline Drive help you find facilities and services. Mileposts are numbered north to south. More detailed guides and hiking maps are available at entrance stations and visitor centers.
Get the Information You Need
Shenandoah Overlook, your free park guide, lists ranger-led programs, activities, safety tips, and regulations. It contains information about backcountry camping and hours of operation for facilities and services. For hiking, stop at a visitor center for maps and guides or visit the online bookstore, www.snpbooks.org. To plan ahead, visit our official park website www.nps.gov/shen.
Skyline Drive is a narrow mountain road with beautiful vistas and wildflowers along the shoulders. Take a leisurely drive and pull off at some of our 75 scenic overlooks to see the views. Wild animals frequent the Drive's shoulders and may dart across the road, so observe the 35-mile-per-hour speed limit for their safety and yours. Bicyclers be cautiousshoulders can be narrow, and vehicle drivers may be distracted. Bicycles and all motorized vehicles are limited to paved roads only.
Facilities are open April through November. For information on concession facilities (lodges, restaurants, and gift shops) contact ARAMARK or visit www.visitshenandoah.com.
Beyond the Drive and developed areas, over 500 miles of trails beckon to the hiker. Detailed maps and hiking guides are available at visitor centers and at www.snpbooks.org. Day-hike trail maps may be downloaded at www.nps.gov/shen. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) operates six cabins (reservations with PATC required) and maintains huts for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. Contact PATC at www.potomacappalachian.org.
Who's at Home in the Wild?
Feeding wildlife is illegal and unsafe. Some animals appear tame, but all are wild and unpredictable. They can bite, kick, and spread disease. Deer and other animals fed by humans become easy targets for illegal hunters. Bears habituated to human food can become more dangerous and may have to be killed. Don't be a party to their destruction.
Hunting is prohibited in Shenandoah National Park. Fishing requires a valid Virginia fishing license. Ask for the park fishing brochure.
For information about weapons and firearms in the park visit www.nps.gov/shen.
Leave No Trace
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack it in and pack it out.
Leave What You Find: Taking plants, animals, or cultural artifacts is illegal and means That other people cannot enjoy them.
Minimize Campfire Impacts: Build fires only in designated areas with grates.
Respect Wildlife: If an animal changes its behavior because of your presence, you are too close.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Leash and control your pet. Let nature's sounds prevailavoid loud voices and noises.
Leave No trace Guidelines: www.lnt.org.
Source: NPS Brochure (2011)
Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards
A Conceptual Basis For Monitoring Vital Signs: Shenandoah National Park (Gordon Olson, James Comiskey, Wendy Cass, David Demarest, Liz Garcia, Rolf Gubler, Wendy Hochstedler, Jake Hughes, Jim Schaberl, Alan Williams and Jeb Wofford, undated)
A Hiker's Guide to the Geology of Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia USGS Open-File Report 2000-263 (Paul Hackley, 2000)
A Natural Resource Assessment for Shenandoah National Park NPS Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2006/071 (Carolyn G. Mahan, December 2006)
A Pilot Inventory of Crayfish in Shenandoah National Park NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/SHEN/NRDS—2014/671 (John E.B. Wofford and Zachary J. Loughman, May 2014)
Abstracts of Papers Presented at the Second Annual Shenandoah Research Symposium, Luray, Virginia, April 21-22, 1977 Natural Resources Report Number 15 (1978)
Acidic Deposition Impacts on Natural Resources in Shenandoah National Park NPS Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2006/066 (Bernard J. Cosby, James R. Webb, James N. Galloway and Frank A. Deviney, November 2006)
Administrative History Shenandoah National Park, 1924-1976 (Darwin Lambert, January 27, 1979, w/2021 reformatting revisions)
Air Quality Management Plan, Shenandoah National Park First Draft (Julie Thomas, April 5, 1993)
An Annotated Checklist of the Amphibians nd Reptiles of Shenandoah National Park, Viriginia (William L. Witt, March 8, 1988)
Ancient lavas in Shenandoah National Park near Luray, Virginia (PDF) USGS Bulletin 1265 (John C. Reed, Jr., 1969)
Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring in Shenandoah National Park: 2009 Summary Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/SHEN/NRDS—2012/360 (J.E.B. Wofford and E.D. Demarest, September 2012)
Assessment of Air Quality and Related Valus in Shenandoah National Park NPS Technical Report NPS/NERCHAL/NRTR-03/090 (Timothy J. Sullivan, Bernard J. Cosby, John A. Laurence, Robin L. Dennis, Kristi Savig, James R. Webb, Arthur J. Bulger, Mark Scruggs, Christi Gordon, John Ray, E. Henry Lee, William E. Hogsett, Heather Wayne, Debbie Miller and Jeffrey S. Kern, May 2003)
Baseline Water Quality Data, Inventory and Analysis: Shenandoah National Park NPS Technical Report NPS/NRWRD/NRTR-2000/264 (August 2000)
Biodiversity Associated with Eastern Hemlock Forests: Assessment and Classification of Invertebrate Biodiversity within Shenandoah National Park NPS Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2004/001 (Carolyn G. Mahan, James H. Boone, K.C. Kim, K. Sullivan and Robert Byers, November 2004)
Catch the Buzz Pollinator Diversity, Distribution, and Phenology in Shenandoah National Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/SHEN/NRR—2017/1441 (Jessica J. Rykken, May 2017)
Chemical and isotopic composition of water from springs, wells, and streams in parts of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, and vicinity, 1995-1999 USGS Open-File Report 2000-373 (L. Niel Plummer, Eurybiades Busenberg, John Karl Bohlke, R.W. Carmody, G.C. Casile, T.B. Coplen, M.W. Doughten, J.E. Hannon, Wandee Kirkland, R.L. Michel, D.L. Nelms, B.C. Norton, K.E. Plummer, Haiping Qi, Kinga Revesz, Peter Schlosser, Shane Spitzer, J.E. Wayland and P.K. Widman, 2000)
Climate Summary, Shenandoah National Park NPS Natural Resources Report NPS/NER/NRR-2007/017 (Stephen Gawtry and Jerry Stenger, December 2007)
Cultural Landscape Report for Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park (John W. Hammond, 2019)
Cultural Landscape Report: Judd Gardens (Land and Community Associates, December 1993)
Cultural Landscape Report for Rapidan Camp, Shenandoah National Park (John W. Hammond, 2014)
Cultural Landscapes Inventory: Piney River, Shenandoah National Park (1999, revised 2006)
Cultural Resource Management at Shenandoah: It Didn't Come Naturally (Bob Krumenaker, extract from CRM, v21 n1, 1998)
Debris flows and landslides resulting from the June 27, 1995, storm on the North Fork of the Moormons River, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia USGS Open-File Report 96-503 (B.A. Morgan and G.F. Wieczorek, 1996)
Downscaling Temperatures to Shenandoah National Park using Gridded Climate Data Sets, High-Resolution Atmospheric Models, and Surface Observations NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/SHEN/NRTR—2014/875 (Temple R. Lee, Stephan F.J. De Wekker and John E.B. Wofford, May 2014)
Effects of stream water chemistry on mercury concentrations in brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Shenandoah National Park (C.D. Snyder, R. Webb, /j. Atkinson and S. Spitzer, March 22, 2006)
Evaluation of Restoration Needs for Illegal Cannabis Cultivation Sites in Shenandoah National Park: The Point Overlook and Dry Run Falls Road NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/SHEN/NRR—2017/1535 (Abigail Hyduke and Wendy Cass, October 2017)
Fish Monitoring in Shenandoah National Park: 2010 Summary Report NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/SHEN/NRDS—2012/361 (J.E.B. Wofford and E.D. Demarest, September 2012)
Forest Cover Types of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (L.Y. Berg and R.B. Moore, July 1961)
Forest Vegetation Status in Shenandoah National Park: Long-term Ecological Monitoring Summary Report 2003-2011 NPS Natural Resource Data Series NPS/MIDN/NRDS—2012/353 (Wendy B, Cass, Wendy W. Hochstedler and Alan B. Williams, August 2012)
Geologic Resources Inventory Report, Shenandoah National Park NPS Natural Resources Report NPS/NRSS/GRD/NRR-2014/767 (Trista L. Thornberry-Ehrlich, February 2014)
Historic Resources Study, Shenandoah National Park Final Draft (Robinson & Associates, Inc., May 1997)
Hydrology of Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia: Assessment of a Sensitive Wetland System in the Blue Ridge Mountains NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2007/093 (George M. Hornberger and Justin E. Lawrence, September 2007)
Investigation of the Old Mill and Tavern in Shenandoah National Park (Thor Borresen, 1945)
National Register of Historic Places Nomination Forms
Camp Hoover (Tom Walsh, November 6, 1987)
George T. Corbin Cabin (James Hoogland and Linda Romola, September 1983)
Skyline Drive Historic District (Lee R. Maddex, Kevin McClung, Jeffrey Drobney, Billy Joe Peyton and Linda McClelland, September 30, 1992)
Skyline Drive Historic District (Boundary Increase) (Carol Hooper, April 1997)
Skyline Drive Boundary Increase (Skyland, Lewis Mountain, Big Meadows) (Robinson & Associates, Inc., November 4, 2002)
Photo Monitoring of High-Elevation Plants in Shenandoah National Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/SHEN/NRR—2017/1542 (Abigail R. Hyduke and Wendy B. Cass, November 2017)
Pleistocene and Holocene colluvial fans and terraces in the Blue Ridge region of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia USGS Open-File Report 2003-410 (B.A. Morgan, L.S. Eaton and G.F. Wieczorek, 2004)
Posters (Shenandoah Science): Acid Rain...The Invisible Threat • Deer, Skyline Drive & Park Visitors • Greener Isn't Always Good • Forests Under Siege by Exotic Insects & Disease • Snags & Logs (2007)
Predicting the vulnerability of streams to episodic acidification and potential effects on aquatic biota in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5259 (Karen C. Rice, Frank A. Deviney Jr., George M. Hornberger and James R. Webb, 2006)
Prioritizing Forest Communities and Areas for the Use of Prescribed Fire at Shenandoah National Park NPS Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/SHEN/NRTR—2012/625 (Carolyn G. Mahan, John A. Young and Melissa Forder, September 2012)
Recreation and Parks: A Social Study at Shenandoah National Park Scientific Monograph Series No. 10 (Glen E. Haas, 1977)
Rock Outcrop (Cliff) Management Project
A Natural Heritage Inventory of the Rock Outcrops of Shenandoah National Park Final Report (Gary P. Fleming, Allen Belden, Jr., Kevin E. Heffernan, Anne C. Chazal, Nancy E. Van Alstine and Eric M. Butler, 2007)
An Assessment of Recreation Impacts to Cliff and Rock Outcrop Environments in Shenandoah National Park Final Report (Jeffrey L. Marion and Chris Carr, July 2007)
Assessing Recreation Impacts to Cliffs in Shenandoah National Park: Integrating Visitor Observation with Trail and Recreation Site Measurements (Kerry T. Wood, Steven R. Lawson and Jeffrey L. Marion, extract from Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, Vol. 24 No. 4, Winter 2006)
Character and Condition of Geological Resources of Interest to the Rock Outcrop Management Project Final Report 2006 (Eric Butler, October 31, 2006)
Mapping Outcrops in Shenandoah National Park Final Report for 2006 (John Young, December 1, 2006)
Social Science Research on Recreational Use and Users of Shenandoah National Park's Rock Outcrops and Cliffs Study Completion Report (Steve Lawson, Kerry Wood, Karen Hockett, Steve Bullock, Brett Kiser and Aurora Moldovanyi, November 2006)
Runoff for selected sites in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, July 18, 1981, through July 17, 1982 USGS Open-File Report 88-98 (W.A. Gebert, David J. Graczyk and William R. Krug, 1988)
Scientific Publications Guideline, Shenandoah National Park (April 19, 2005)
Sedimentary Fabrics of Stratified Slope Deposits at a Site near Hoover's Camp, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia USGS Open-File Report 2004-1059 (Joseph P. Smoot, 2004)
Sensitivity of stream basins in Shenandoah National Park to acid deposition USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4115 (D.D. Lynch and N.B. Dise, 1985)
Shenandoah National Park: Fish in Sensitive Habitats, Project Final Report, Volume I (A.J. Bulger, B.J. Cosby, C.A. Dolloff, K.N. Eshleman, J.R. Webb and J.N. Galloway, 2000)
Shenandoah National Park Natural Resource Condition Assessment: April 2017 Revision NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/SHEN/NRR—2017/1429 (Simon Costanzo, Brianne Walsh, Alex Fries, Suzanne Spitzer, Jane Hawkey, Vanessa Vargas, Todd Lookingbill, Brian Webb, Samantha Easby, Claire Goelst and Matt Rouch, April 2017)
Shenandoah National Park Long-Term Ecological Monitoring System User Manuals NPS/NRSHEN/NRTR-90/02 (F. William Ravlin, J. Reese Voshell, Jr., David Wm. Smith, Susan L. Rutherford, Stephen W. Hiner, David A. Haskell, 1st ed. September 1990)
Shenandoah National Park: Fish In Sensitive Habitats Project Final Report, Volume I Project Description and Summary of Results (A.J. Bulger, B.J. Cosby, C.A. Dolloff, K.N. Eshleman, J.R. Webb and J.N. Galloway, 1999)
Shenandoah National Park: Fish In Sensitive Habitats Project Final Report, Volume II Stream Water Chemistry and Discharge, and Synoptic Water Quality Surveys (A.J. Bulger, B.J. Cosby, C.A. Dolloff, K.N. Eshleman, J.R. Webb and J.N. Galloway, 1999)
Shenandoah National Park: Fish In Sensitive Habitats Project Final Report, Volume III Basin-wide Habitat and Population Inventories, and Behavioral Responses to Acid in a Laboratory Stream (A.J. Bulger, B.J. Cosby, C.A. Dolloff, K.N. Eshleman, J.R. Webb and J.N. Galloway, 1999)
Shenandoah National Park: Fish In Sensitive Habitats Project Final Report, Volume IV Stream Bioassays, Aluminum Toxicity, Species Richness and Stream Chemistry, and Models of Susceptibility to Acidification (A.J. Bulger, B.J. Cosby, C.A. Dolloff, K.N. Eshleman, J.R. Webb and J.N. Galloway, 1999)
Suggestions on the Development of a History of the Region Now Embracing Shenandoah National Park (Herbert S. Zim, January 1944)
Surficial geology of Shaver Hollow, Shenandoah National Park USGS Open-File Report 98-343 (Benjamin A. Morgan, 1998)
The Nature of Shenandoah: A Naturalist's Story of a Mountain Park (HTML edition) (Napier Shelton, 1975)
The Road Inventory of Shenandoah National Park (December 1999)
The Skyline Drive Landscape Report (The Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology, 1993)
The Trout Fishery in Shenandoah National Park Special Scientific Report--Fisheries No. 395 (Robert E. Lennon, November 1961)
Topographic Map: Shenandoah National Park (North Section), VA Scale: 1:62,500 (USGS, 1975)
Topographic Map: Shenandoah National Park (South Section), VA Scale: 1:62,500 (USGS, 1975)
Vegetation Inventory and Monitoring Workshop for Shenandoah National Park (Carolyn Mahan, September 11, 2000)
Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in Relation to Environmental Gradients, Version 2.0 NPS Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2009/142 (John Young, Gary Fleming, Wendy Cass and Chris Lea, December 2009)
Virginia Special Places in Peril: Jamestown, Chincoteague, and Shenandoah Threatened by Climate Disruption (Stephen Saunders and Tom Easley, ©The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Natural Resources Defense Council, September 2010, all rights reserved)
Visitor Services Conference (October 5-9, 1953)
Visitor Study: Summer and Fall 2011, Shenandoah National Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/EQD/NRR—2012/584 (Marc F. Manni, Wayde Morse, Yen Le and Steven J. Hollenhorst, October 2012)
Water-quality data of soil water from three watersheds, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, 1999-2000 USGS Open-File Report 2001-236 (Karen C. Rice, Suzanne W. Maben and James R. Webb, 2001)
Water Resources Scoping Report: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia NPS Technical Report NPS/NRWRS/NRTR-2004/320 (David L. Vana-Miller and Don P. Weeks, August 2004)
Handbooks ◆ Books
Last Updated: 20-Apr-2022