John Muir said it best when in 1863 he wrote to his sister: “The mountains are calling and I must go …”
Perhaps you’ve experienced the feeling? Some of us simply long for the view of the mountains while others want to conquer it on two feet. Either way, Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest State Park is a prime destination.
Named for the river it boarders, Shenandoah River State Park is a peaceful and serene park. Picture perfect scenery abounds here in the mountains and rolling hills of Northern Virginia.
With over 5 miles of river front and nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River State Park is truly a gem. The rolling, mountainous land features steep slopes and is mostly wooded. In addition to meandering river frontage, the park offers scenic vistas overlooking Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east.
This park is situated on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and has more than 1,600 acres along 5.2 miles of shoreline.
A large riverside picnic area, picnic shelters, multi-use trails, river access, and a car-top boat launch make this a popular destination for families, anglers, and canoeists. With miles of trails and ziplines, the park has plenty of options for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and scenic adventure.
Shenandoah River State Park has 17 trails making up 24 miles, a virtual labyrinth. The trails include a beautiful overlook of the river, as well as a pleasant field walk.
An 8.5 mile-circuit hike encompasses sections of the Bear Bottom Loop, Big Oak, Redtail Ridge, Shale Barrens, River, and Culler’s Trails, passing 10 major intersections. No need to be concerned about getting lost, as the trail signage and tree blazing is excellent. Since many trails are multiuse and are popular with mountain bikers and equestrians, be prepared to share the trails.
Fairly new to the park are the ziplines. It’s the only Virginia State Park to offer such a fun opportunity. Organized and led by Virginia Canopy Tours, the three-hour experience includes a UTV (utility task vehicle) trail ride, eight ziplines, air stairs, sky bridge, two nature hikes, and a rappel.
Ten riverfront tent campsites, a campground with water and electric sites, cabins, camping cabins and a group campground are available.
In the summer of 2010 the state park opened a new RV campground featuring 32 sites that can accommodate RVs up to 60 feet in length. Twenty-seven sites are back-in, and five are pull-through. All sites have water, 50/20-amp electric service. There are no sewer hookups but a dump station is available. Each site features a steel fire ring with a grill for campfires and cooking, as well as a lantern holder and picnic table.
Open year-round the campground has centrally located restrooms with hot showers and laundry facilities. Site assignment is made upon arrival, not at the time of reservation.
In addition, the campground has a six-bedroom lodge and four camping cabins, each equipped with two sets of bunk beds, accommodating four people. Guests must provide their own linens. Each cabin is equipped with a ceiling fan, table, four chairs, and electrical outlets. The outside area has a small front porch with rocking chairs, picnic table, lantern post, and fire-ring grill.
Cabins and the Lodge have a week-long minimum stay.
Camping reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance, either online via the park’s website or by telephone through the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center. Full payment is due before arrival, normally within 14 days of making the booking. The maximum camping period at Shenandoah River State Park is 14 days
The park is located eight miles south of Front Royal and 15 miles north of Luray. It’s off Route 340 in Bentonville.
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze
Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads.