Shenandoah National Park protects a long and narrow section of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. It comprises 311 square miles (805 square kilometers) of mountains and meadows, dense forests and wilderness areas. These various landscapes make the park a hotspot for fauna and flora.
Shenandoah National Park‘s diversity in habitats supports 1,400 different vascular plants, more than 100 species of trees, 300 mammals species and more than 200 species of birds. The park has one of the largest concentrations of black bears in the United States. Other high-profile mammals are coyotes, raccoons, groundhogs and white-tailed deer.
Visitors don’t even have to venture into the wilderness to spot wild animals. Skyline Drive, an exceptionally scenic 105-mile (169-kilometer) road, winds its way through the heart of the park, essentially following the mountains’ ridge from south to north. Wild animals, including black bears, often leisurely cross the road.
Skyline Drive is the absolute star attraction of Shenandoah National Park. It is the park’s one and only road and almost every highlight in the park lies along this phenomenal road. There are more than 70 lookout points from which to enjoy a glorious sunrise or sunset in Shenandoah National Park, a few visitor centers, four campgrounds and a number of waysides.
Additionally, numerous hiking (and horseback riding) trails start just off the road. Many of them are quite short, as Skyline Drive already lies near the summits of Shenandoah National Park’s mountains, but some do provide real challenges and run deep into the wilderness.
Open year-round, Shenandoah National Park offers outdoor adventures for all abilities and all ages, its attractions ranging from an abundance of wildlife and wonderful hikes to picturesque waterfalls and one of the most extraordinary mountain roads in the United States. The following Shenandoah National Park photos show you exactly what you can expect.
Shenandoah National Park Photo Essay
Dark Hollow Falls is Shenandoah’s most popular and most accessible waterfall.
Skyline Drive runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge offering sweeping views along the way.
Don’t be surprised (or scared) if you happen to see a black bear cross the road. They’re abundant but shy.
A glorious autumn sunset at The Point Overlook on Skyline Drive.
Stony Man offers some of Shenandoah’s most spectacular views, including a glimpse of Skyline Drive.
If you’re looking for a short, scenic hike, the Frazier Discovery Trail is an excellent option.
Dogs are welcome on most trails in Shenandoah National Park, making it one of the most pet-friendly national parks in the U.S.
There’s nothing quite like going for a leisurely late-afternoon drive in Shenandoah National Park.
Hazeltop Ridge Overlook is yet another great spot for sunset-watching.
White-tailed deer sightings are almost guaranteed when you spend a day in Shenandoah National Park.
Two young black bear siblings have a blast exploring Shenandoah’s dense woodlands.
One of the park’s most underrated short hikes, Turk Mountain provides wonderful views of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley below.
The sun sets behind fall foliage-covered hills.
One of the best ways to finish off a day in Shenandoah National Park is going on a sunset stroll.
Situated at the highest point on Skyline Drive, Skyland Resort is one of the park’s two historic lodges.
Dawn at Big Meadows is the best time and place to spot white-tailed deer and the occasional black bear.
A musician serenades the Blue Ridge Mountains at one of the 75 overlooks.
Watching the sun climb over the horizon at the Tunnel Parking Overlook is a major highlight.
A groundhog leaves its hole to say ‘hello’.
Besides various mammals, Shenandoah National Park also has a healthy reptile population, such as this black racer snake.
Evening sunlight creates a gorgeous golden glow over the mountains.
In spring, mountain laurel blooms, adding wonderful pink colors to Shenandoah’s vibrantly green scenery.
One of my favorite hikes, the Doyles River-Jones Run Loop takes you past a handful of beautiful waterfalls and cascades.
Shenandoah National Park is home to more than 500 miles of hiking trails, many of which lead through peaceful woodlands.
In addition to wildlife and scenic views, waterfalls are among the park’s greatest attractions.
Sunrise on Skyline Drive.
All trails are clearly marked by this kind of signposts, which makes getting lost impossible.
A trio of black bear cubs plays the afternoon away.
Dawn in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the most serene and peaceful time of day.