Away I Go to Shenandoah

Because of its geographic location, half the population of the U.S. is within a day’s drive of Shenandoah National Park. Last year 1.2 million visitors enjoyed its scenic vistas, streams, waterfalls, and other attractions, placing it among the top 10 most visited national parks.

Much of Shenandoah consisted of farmland and second- or third-growth forests logged since the early 1700s. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shenandoah National Park is rich in history, with eleven sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From President Hoover’s summer white house at Rapidan Camp, to the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), as well as the stories of the former residents of the land, Shenandoah’s intriguing past invites visitors to explore deeper into this special place.


There are four developed campgrounds that offer sites for tents on up to RVs.

Although Shenandoah National Park doesn’t have a campground that is solely for recreational vehicles, it does have three campgrounds that will accommodate large rigs. Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, and Loft Mountain campgrounds all have pull-through and deep back-in sites, most of which can accommodate an RV with a tow vehicle. Reservations are available at these three campgrounds. Although the park campgrounds do not offer hookups, they have potable water and dump stations.

Photo Tips

Simple as it sounds, there is a big difference between taking a travel photo and making one. When you take a photo, you simply point and shoot.

When you make a photo, you think about all the elements in a scene and how they interrelate and complement each other.

You think about the lighting and the background and the foreground. And you think about the mood you want to create with your image.

Capture a panorama
Use the panoramic format mode (P), to capture the grandeur of a wide vista.

Take photos, even in inclement weather
Don’t let overcast and rainy days discourage you from taking photos. Polished by the rain, colors become more intense. On overcast days, try to include a spot of color to brighten your photo.

Did You Know?

Hikers trek into the forest along the more than 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail and are rewarded with some of the most scenic views of Shenandoah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 600-foor-long Marys Rock Tunnel was completed in 1932 and the public considered it a scenic wonder. It became iconic and tunnel images were used on everything from post cards to jewelry.

Quick Facts about Shenandoah National Park:

Skyline Drive: 105 miles long, 75 overlooks

Total Acreage: 197,438 acres

Designated Wilderness: Approximately 40% (79,579 acres) of Shenandoah is wilderness

Highest Peak: Hawksbill Mountain, 4,050 feet

Hiking Trails: 516 miles, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail

Highest Waterfall: Overall Run Falls, 93 feet

Plants: More than 1300 species

Birds: Over 200 species

Shenandoah National Park


Operating Hours: Always open; however, portions of Skyline Drive, the only public road through the park, are periodically closed during inclement weather and at night during deer hunting season, mid-November through early January

End of the day at Shenandoah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Admission: $10.00/vehicle, December-February; $15/vehicle, March-November (good for 7 days); all federal lands passes accepted

Location: In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia 75 miles west of Washington, D.C. and stretches 105 miles from its northern entrance at Front Royal to its southern entrance near Waynesboro

Maximum Speed Limit: 35 mph

Camping: $15-20

Address: 3655 Hwy 211 East, Luray, VA 22835

Contact: (540) 999-3500

Note: This is the third of a four-part series on Shenandoah National Park and its 75th anniversary celebration.

Part 1: Make Your Destination a Journey

Part 2: Driving the Skyline Drive

Final article in the series: Celebrating 75 Years

Worth Pondering…

Country Roads

I hear her voice, in the mornin’ hours she calls to me
The radio reminds me of my home far a-way
And drivin’ down the road I get a feeling’
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

—John Denver

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