Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. This 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. Although likely the most prominent feature of the Park is the scenic Skyline Drive, almost 40% of the land area 79,579 acres (322.04 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).
The park passes through parts of eight counties. On the west side of Skyline Drive they are, from northeast to southwest, Warren, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta counties. On the east side of Skyline Drive they are Rappahannock, Madison, Greene, and Albemarle counties. The park stretches for 105 miles (169 km) along Skyline Drive from near the town of Front Royal in the northeast to near the city of Waynesboro in the southwest.
Flora and Fauna:
For the most part, the park is dominated by deciduous forest, though other types of trees and plants also thrive in Virginia's Appalachian Mountains. Oak, tulip poplar, hickory, chestnut, and maple trees are most common in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but pines, cedars, and hemlocks also grow in parts of Shenandoah National Park. Numerous species of wildflowers, ferns, mosses, and grasses are also found in the park.
Animal life abounds in Shenandoah National Park. Among the notable animals in the park are white-tailed deer, black bear, bobcats, gray and red foxes, opossums, raccoons, skunk, and groundhogs. Birds include the common eastern hawks (Red-tailed and Red-shouldered are most prevalent in the Blue Ridge Mountains), Owls, Wild turkeys, Bobwhite quail, Ruffed grouse, and dozens of species of wood warblers and other songbirds, like chickadees, titmice, sparrows, wrens, nuthatches, orioles, and towhees.
Shenandoah National Park is one of the most accessible parks in America. It's located just 72 miles west of Washington D.C., and is a comfortable drive from locations in Virginia as well as nearby states.
There are four park entrances:
• Front Royal Entrance Station - Most northern entrance (Mile Marker 0.6), accessible via U.S. 340.
• Thornton Gap Entrance Station - (Mile Marker 31.5), accessible via U.S. 211.
• Swift Run Gap Entrance Station - (Mile Marker 65.7), accessible via U.S. 33.
• Rockfish Gap Entrance Station - Most southern entrance (Mile marker 105.4), accessible via I-64 and U.S. 250.
By Air: The park's south entrances at Rockfish Gap and Swift Run Gap are served by commercial flights to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, 434.973.8341; and Shenandoah Valley Airport, 540.234.8304. Dulles International Airport is 1 1/2 hours east of the junction of U.S. 211 and the Skyline Drive.
By Bus: The park's south entrances at Rockfish Gap and Swift Run Gap are served by commercial flights to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, 434.973.8341; and Shenandoah Valley Airport, 540.234.8304. Dulles International Airport is 1 1/2 hours east of the junction of U.S. 211 and the Skyline Drive.
By Train: Amtrak serves nearby Culpeper, VA which is approximately 35 miles from the eastern entrance to the Park at Thornton Gap at US 211. Amtrak also serves Charlottesville, VA which is approximately 30 miles from the Park at the Swift Run Gap entrance at US 33.