Gazing across the horizon from the peaks of Shenandoah National Park, it's hard to believe you are just 75 miles from the bustle of our nation's capital. Skyline Drive, the park's scenic byway, has over 75 overlooks providing spectacular views. 500 miles of trails lead hikers to waterfalls, vistas, and the quiet of the woods.
Benton McKaye, the “father of the Appalachian Trail,” was also instrumental in passage of the Wilderness Act. Shenandoah National Park carries on Benton McKaye’s legacy with 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail and almost 80,000 acres of designated wilderness.
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 the scenic Skyline Drive is likely the most prominent feature of the Park, almost 40% of the land area 79,579 acres 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.
The park is best known for Skyline Drive, a 105 mile road that runs the entire length of the park along the ridge of the mountains. The drive is particularly popular in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail are also in the park. In total, there are over 500 miles of trails within the park. Of the trails, one of the most popular is Old Rag Mountain, which offers a thrilling rock scramble and some of the most breathtaking views in Virginia. There is also horseback riding, camping, bicycling, and many waterfalls. The Skyline Drive is the first National Park Service road east of the Mississippi River listed as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also designated as a National Scenic Byway.