Shenandoah National Park in Virginia incorporates a portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains into its beautiful setting. As a witness to many historical events, Shenandoah Valley history goes beyond the establishment of the national park that took place in 1935, and guests of the park can tour the landscape to learn about the area’s role in US and Native American history while enjoying gorgeous mountain scenery and wildlife—it's one of the best things to do in Virginia.
Human history in the area dates back at least 9,000 years. Before it was known as Shenandoah Virginia, these lands were used as seasonal hunting grounds for Native Americans that lived in this part of North America. When the first European settlers arrived, many of them built homes in the lower valleys, where fresh water was readily available. As the United States became more developed and industrial expansion began to take place, refreshing vacation spots were in high demand, leading the way to mountain lodges and resorts that were built where visitors could spend a few days in a revitalizing and healthy environment. While the development of the Shenandoah National Park was under way, residents living in the mountains were relocated, and the Blue Ridge Mountains were left to nature.
As much of Shenandoah Virginia encompasses a segment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, including Hawksbill Mountain, the highest peak in the park at 4,051 feet, a lot of the landscape is hilly. It contains features such as slopes, hills, waterfalls, and peaks. All of these, along with the varied elevation levels, come together to create a diverse selection of environments, where dozens of animals have made a home. The Lush landscapes of the Shenandoah Valley are comprised of a number of trees, mosses, grass, lichens, ferns, and freshwater flora. Mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are among the animals that call the Shenandoah National Park home. Some of the more common species include black bears, white tailed deer, skunks, bats, frogs, and several breeds of birds. Some are more evasive than others, so viewing the animals in the park often requires a sharp and patient eye.
Visitors are encouraged to participate in the various outdoor activities available here, which include mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, camping, and fishing. Among the most popular activities in the Shenandoah Valley is hiking up Old Rag Mountain, which is the most challenging and arguably the most rewarding hike in the park. There are also simpler, flatter trails, however, so there is suitable hiking for tourists of almost any ability. Several waterfalls create an enchanting atmosphere throughout the Shenandoah National Park, and adventurers can hike and enjoy the views of each waterfall.
When considering where to camp, guests can choose from two types of grounds: backcountry and maintained campsites. For those in search of more creature comforts, a handful of lodges and resorts in the area offer cozy accommodations. With plenty of picnic areas and a handful of dining options within the park, guests can also rest assured they’ll find plenty of options at meal time, from Big Meadow Lodge to Skyland to Elkwallow to Loft Mountain. Whether you pay a visit to Shenandoah Virginia for outdoor adventuring or a more relaxing vacation, this national park is packed with something for everyone.