Shenandoah National Park (What to See and Do)

A Visitor's Guide to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive

Shenandoah National Park
••• Shenandoah National Park. Photo © Carolyn Cochrane/Getty Images

Shenandoah National Park is an ideal getaway destination from the Washington, DC area because of its convenient location just 90 minutes west of the Capital Beltway. Visitors enjoy a wide range of recreational activities amidst breathtaking scenery in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The region is most known for its spectacular panoramic views along Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that winds through the entire length of the park.

Shenandoah National Park, contains over 197,000 acres of land with over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. See a Photo Gallery

This Visitor's Guide includes three pages to help you plan a great getaway to Shenandoah National Park.

Page 1 - Directions, Fees, and Outdoor Recreation

Page 2 - Top Attractions Near Shenandoah National Park

Page 3- Hotels and Accommodations

Getting to Shenandoah National Park

From Washington, DC, take I-495 to I-66 West towards Front Royal. There are four entrances to the park. They are located at:

  • Front Royal via I-66 and Route 340
  • Thornton Gap via Route 211
  • Swift Run Gap via Route 33
  • Rockfish Gap via I-64 and Route 250

For more details, see A Driving Guide of Virginia's Skyline Drive

Park Entrance Fees

December through February: $10.00 per private, non-commercial vehicle
March through November: $15.00 per private, non-commercial vehicle.
Motorcycle: $10.00
Each pass is valid for the day of purchase and the next six days.

Outdoor Recreation and Things to Do

  • Hiking and Nature Walks - Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. See printable hiking maps. Guided hikes are available throughout the year. Stop at a Visitor Center to pick up a schedule and register for ranger guided hikes. Dickey Ridge Visitor Center is located at Mile 4.6 and Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center is located at Milepost 51 on Skyline Drive. Hours are 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily. For recorded information call (540) 999-3500.
     
  • Horseback Riding – There are more than 150 miles of horse trails in the park. Guided trail rides are available from April through early November and depart from the stable at Skyland Resort at Milepost 41.7. Riders must be at least 4’10”. Pony rides are also available for children. See the riding schedule and pricing.
     
  • Wildlife & Nature Photography – Shenandoah National Park is an ideal place to practice your photography skills. Forests, waterfalls, birds, and white-tailed deer make dramatic subjects throughout the seasons.
     
  • Fishing –A Virginia fishing license is required and may be obtained at Big Meadows Wayside at Milepost 51.2. There are limitations on fishing in some areas, so check the regulations before casting a line.
     
  • Bicycling – You may ride a bike along Skyline Drive and on paved areas in the park. Bicycling is not allowed on trails, unpaved roads or in grassy areas. Since the roads are steep with many blind curves, park officials do not encourage bicycling.
     
  • Water Sports – You may swim in any river at your own risk. Canoeing, kayaking, tubing and rafting trips can be arranged through private outfitters. Contact Shenandoah River Trips, Downriver Canoe Co. or Shenandoah River Outfitters.
     
  • Evening Campfire Programs – Special evening programs are available June through October.
     
  • Junior Ranger Programs – Special educational programs are available for kids ages 7 – 12 during the summer months. 

If you are planning a trip to Shenandoah National Park from the Washington, DC area you should keep in mind that the park stretches over 200 miles in distance, so it will take you longer than 90 minutes to get to some of the popular attractions. See a map. Winchester and Front Royal are on the northern end of the park and are closest to Washington, DC. Luray, Skyland and Big Meadows are in the center and Waynesboro is at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park.



See a picture gallery of the Shenandoah Valley

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
If you can't get enough outdoor recreation at Shenandoah National Park, visit the nearby George Washington and Jefferson National Forests which extend through the Blue Ridge and Southern Appalachian Mountains. Enjoy hiking, camping, bicycling, hunting, fishing and much more.

Luray Caverns
970 US Highway 211 West Luray, Virginia. Luray Caverns are the largest caverns in the eastern United States and probably the most popular attraction in the Shenandoah Valley. Explore this natural wonder with towering stone columns, mud flows, stalactites, stalagmites, crystal-clear pools and many other formations. Also at Luray Caverns, visit the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum and experience the history of transportation. See more than 140 cars, carriages, coaches and costumes from 1725.

Shenandoah Caverns
261 Caverns Road Shenandoah Caverns, Virginia.

(540) 477-3115. These caverns are also beautiful and may be easier to get to and less crowded than Luray. Shenandoah Caverns is located just a few minutes off of I-81. Also on site is American Celebration on Parade!, a colorful display of parade floats from the Rose parade, Presidential Inaugurals, Thanksgiving parades and more.



Shenandoah Vineyards
3659 South Ox Road, Edinburg, Virginia. (540) 984-8699. This is the oldest winery in the Shenandoah Valley. Tour the 26 acre vineyard and sample a variety of wines. Open daily, March through November 10 a.m. to 6.pm.

Luray Zoo
This small zoo is home to birds of prey, exotic cats, mammals and reptiles from around the world. Open daily April-October, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; November-March, weekends and holidays.

New Market Battlefield Park & Hall of Valor Museum
Explore the three-hundred acre historic park and museum with scenic Shenandoah River overlooks, picnic spots and walking trails. Open year-round 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Old Town Winchester
The historic district has many beautifully restored Federalist style structures, charming shops, unique restaurants, museums and landmarks.

For Directions, Fees, and Outdoor Recreation, See Page 1

For Hotels and Accommodations, See Page 3

There is a wide variety of accommodations near Shenandoah National Park. You can stay at one of the park's historic lodges or fully experience the beautiful natural surroundings sleeping in a cabin or under the stars at a campground. You can also find an inexpensive hotel or a luxury resort a short distance away, in the Shenandoah Valley.

See a picture gallery of the Shenandoah Valley
 

Lodges and Cabins at Shenandoah National Park

Skyland Resort
(Mile 41.7) Shenandoah National Park's largest lodge is located at the highest point on Skyline Drive at 3,680 feet.

Accommodations include 178 units ranging from historic cabins to modern hotel rooms and suites. There is a dining room, family-friendly entertainment, ranger guided programs, horseback riding and a conference hall.

Big Meadows Lodge
(Mile 51.2) Big Meadows Lodge is a smaller lodge in Shenandoah National Park with just 25 rooms and 72 cabins, suites and traditional rooms. The lodge has a dining room, family-friendly entertainment, guided ranger programs and a Visitor Center nearby.

Lewis Mountain Cabins
(Mile 57.5) Enjoy the fun of camping in Shenandoah National Park with private bathrooms, heat, electric lights, towels and linens. Lewis Mountain Cabins has 10 historic cabins with an outdoor cooking/recreation area and a camp store.
 

Campgrounds at Shenandoah National Park

Mathews Arm Campground
(mile 22.1) 179 campsites; $14 per night. Near the trail to Overall Run Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park.



Big Meadows Campground
(mile 51.2) 217 campsites; $19 per night. Three waterfalls are within walking distance.

Lewis Mountain Campground
(mile 57.5) 31 campsites; $14 per night. Smallest campground in the park.

Loft Mountain Campground
(mile 79.5) 219 campsites; $14 per night. Spectacular views, 2 waterfalls nearby.



Dundo Group Campground
(mile 83.7)7 sites; $32 per night. Campsite specifically for groups of 8 to 20 people.

Shenandoah National Park campgrounds get busy during the peak season. Reservations are suggested. Backcountry camping is allowed with a permit. Call (540) 999-3500.
 

Resorts in the Shenandoah Valley

Bryce Resort
Basye, Virginia. This four season family-friendly resort, located about 2 hours from Washington, DC, is a destination in itself, with a wide range of activities such as skiing, golf, swimming, hiking and more.

The Homestead
Hot Springs, Virginia. This luxury resort is located in Virginia's Allegheny Mountains and is ranked among the world's finest Golf and Spa resorts. Activities include hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, canoeing and more.

Massanutten Resort
This is a huge four season resort, also located about 2 hours from Washington, DC, with many hotels and condominiums and a wide selection of activities.
 

Hotels in the Shenandoah Valley

There are hundreds of hotels in the Shenandoah Valley. If you are looking for an inexpensive hotel within a short drive from Washington, DC, look for accommodations in Front Royal, New Market or Luray, Virginia. Here are a few suggestions.



Best Western Intown of Luray
410 W Main Street, Luray, VA
This hotel is conveniently located one half mile from Shenandoah National Park and near Luray Caverns.

Luray Days Inn
138 Whispering Hill Road - Luray, VA
Motel located .7 miles from Shenandoah National Park.

New Market Days Inn Battlefield
-9360 George Collins Parkway, New Market, VA
Modern hotel set on a historic battlefield about 11 miles from Shenandoah National Park.

Quality Inn Shenandoah Valley
162 W. Old Cross Rd. New Market, VA
Modern Hotel about 11 miles from Shenandoah National Park

Hampton Inn
9800 Winchester Rd, Front Royal, VA
Modern hotel conveniently located at the entrance to Skyline Drive.

For more accommodations in the region, see the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association

For Directions, Fees, and Outdoor Recreation, See Page 1

For Top Attractions Near Shenandoah National Park, See Page 2