The rich hardwood forests, the pristine waters, the breath-taking Shenandoah Mountains. If you ever have the chance to visit one of the country's most beautiful national parks, Shenandoah National Park, do not miss out on the opportunity. The park has everything you need for a fun-filled afternoon adventure.
Established in 1935, Shenandoah National Park is located on both sides of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Luray, Virginia. Just 72 miles west of Washington D.C., this park boasts more than 500 miles of superb trails, including 101 miles of the most famous American trail of all-the Appalachian Trail. Wild flowers, apple trees, cemeteries, roaring rapids, and waterfalls can all be found in Shenandoah National Park.
What is a park without hiking trails? Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails! Here are a few examples of some of the exciting, self-guided nature trails of Shenandoah:
Crescent Rock. This is a fairly easy trail to follow. It begins across the Crescent Rock overlook and leads the hiker to patches of shade-loving plants.
Deadening Nature. Watch your step! This is a rather steep trail. It offers a spectacular view at the top of Loft Mountain.
Little Stony Man Cliffs. Take the kids on this trail. It is easy and has wonderful views of the park.
Stony Man Nature. Relive history and take this trail to follow a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Whiteoak Canyon. Phew! This is one difficult trail, but the hike is worth it. This trail leads to six stunning waterfalls.
Campers, you cannot get better than this! Shenandoah National Park offers five campgrounds. They all have picnic tables and grills. But only some have showers, camp stores, and laundry. Note that none of the campgrounds have sewage or hookups for water or electricity. You will be roughing it. But that's half the fun! Call the park for the site fees. The campgrounds include: Big Meadow, Lewis Mountain, Dundo Group, Mathews Arm, and Loft Mountain.
Riding a horse through the Shenandoah Mountains is a relaxing and beautiful as it sounds. There are more than 150 miles of horse trails available in Shenandoah National Park. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own horses for a peaceful trot around certain trails. Guests of the park can also sign up for guided horseback riding tours. And pony rides are available for the little tykes.
Many people who visit Shenandoah National Park come with a purpose-to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. Shenandoah is home to many different kinds of animals, so most visitors with this game plan go home very happy.
This park houses more than 200 species of birds. Grab your binoculars and see how many different types of songbirds you find in the trees. Also be on the look out for hawks, owls, wild turkeys, vultures, and quail.
If reptiles and amphibians are your thing, the Shenandoah streams, ponds and meadows house many salamanders, turtles, and frogs. But watch you step! You do not want to run into any copperhead snakes or timber rattlesnakes. They are both poisonous.
As far as park animals are concerned, Shenandoah has many raccoons, opossums, skunks, weasels, foxes, and bobcats. But the most intriguing animal of the park is the black bear. Shenandoah National Park has many black bears, so if you are camping, do not leave out your food. Bears are not typically aggressive, but they will try and grab food if left behind. If you do come in contact with a bear, calmly leave the area. And never turn your back to the bear. Just back away quietly, without making a lot of sudden moves.
It is no wonder that almost 1.5 million people from all over the country visit Shenandoah National Park each year. The park is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Become one with nature, and relax in this peaceful refuge of wildlife and natural wonder.