ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK FOR FIRST-TIME VISITORS

BEST TIME TO GO TO SHENANDOAH

BEST TIME TO GO TO SHENANDOAH

Shenandoah National Park is famous for its fall foliage, and the peak time is usually mid-to-late October. It’s a must-see, but know that everyone else wants to see the color-changing leaves too.

ENTRANCE FEES

ENTRANCE FEES

– One vehicle for 7 days: $30 – Motorcycle: $25 – Annual Pass: $55 – If you’re 62+ years old, you qualify for a Senior Pass. A one-time $80 fee gets you lifetime access to every national park in the country.

OPERATING HOURS

OPERATING HOURS

though the Drive sometimes closes for a variety of reasons (read on for more). The visitor’s centers, lodges, gift shops, and waysides are mostly closed between late November and mid-March

HOW TO GET INTO SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

HOW TO GET INTO SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

– North Entrance: near Front Royal, off of Rt. 340 – Thornton Gap: between Luray and Sperryville off of Hwy. 211 – Swift Run Gap: between Elkton and Stanardsville – Rockfish Gap: between Waynesboro and Charlottesville, off of Hwy 250 (is also the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway)

TAKE A DRIVE

TAKE A DRIVE

where it connects to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Allow yourself at least three hours to do the entire drive, as the speed limit is only 35mph and the road is a series of narrow curves and windy turns

TAKE A HIKE

TAKE A HIKE

For first-time visitors, I recommend Stony Man. It’s a short (1.6 miles roundtrip), moderately easy hike that offers one of the best views in the park. This walk gives a great introduction to hiking in SNP.

LEARN FROM THE PARK RANGERS

LEARN FROM THE PARK RANGERS

If you’re interested in having a guide during your first visit, the park’s Ranger Program offers a range of activities for every age. From wildlife walks, geological history talks, junior ranger programs for the kids

WHERE TO EAT AND GET GAS

WHERE TO EAT AND GET GAS

Both Skyland and Big Meadows Lodges have full-service restaurants offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

WHERE TO STAY IN SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

WHERE TO STAY IN SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

The campgrounds: There are four campgrounds spread out along the Drive: Mathews Arm (mile 22.1), Big Meadows (mile 51.2), Lewis Mountain (57.5), and Loft Mountain (79.5)

WILDLIFE

WILDLIFE

Yes, there are bears in Shenandoah National Park. But if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. Don’t be frightened of them, but admire them from a distance. I’ve seen tourists try to feed them snacks

WEATHER

WEATHER

The temperature is always about 20 degrees cooler up on the Drive than it is down below. So if you’re thinking “oh, what a lovely 70-degree spring day it is!

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