The most popular activity in Shenandoah National Park is to drive the famous Skyline Drive as it navigates its way along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There’s an almost countless number of scenic views, pullouts and overlooks to enjoy along the 105 miles, from end to end.
It’s easy to fill a day simply driving and enjoying those panoramic views, including those that only require a short walk to reach the best vantage points. Fall foliage color adds an extra dimension to the natural display.
Chances of spotting wildlife are very good, but as always, not guaranteed. The most sought after sighting is to see a bear – population estimates within the park vary by season, but most likely between 200 – 1000 bruins are present at any time. Always practice safe viewing etiquette if you spot a bear, both safe for you, and safe for the bear. Chances are best outside the hottest part of the day. The other large animals most commonly seen are deer – but don’t forget to look for and appreciate smaller critters too!
Hikers have a whole swathe of choices to explore; peaceful forest walks, scrambling to rocky peaks like Old Rag or Hawksbill and relaxing waterfalls await. If unsure about what level or effort is required for a hike, it is recommended to speak with counsellors at any of the info centers to find something that matches your timing, interests and abilities.
The drive and park is divided into 3 districts, with the central district offering the highest concentration of lodgings, camping and services and places of interest. But each district is well worth your attention. With adequate time, or over multiple trips, visitors may choose to explore each district as its own adventure.
Front Royal or Waynesboro
Full day recommended
Total one way driving distance between north and south entrances is 105 miles.
Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C. in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is home to hundreds of animals, historic sites, some beautiful views and unique hiking trails.
Summer in Shenandoah National Park is a popular time, and it can be busy. Fall can also be crowded at times with sightseers taking in the fall colors and also cooler hiking conditions. Spring is best for wildflowers and waterfalls and even baby animals!
Winters are quieter, but expect Skyline Drive to have intermittent closures in winter if conditions are snowy or icy.
Skyline Drive runs 105 miles north and south in Shenandoah National Park and it’s the only public road through the park. It takes about three hours to travel the entire length of the park on a clear day, but you’ll want to allow a full day for sightseeing stops and hikes.