Shenandoah National Park

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Shenandoah National Park


A popular American sailor's chanty, a delightful old ballad, tells of a young man's love for the daughter of a native American chief. And that song more or less sums it up. A rolling river, beautiful beyond compare: Shenandoah. `Shenandoah', an Indian word, itself means `daughter of the stars', and this river valley, in Virginia, definitely looks out of this world. 12 miles of lowland, flanked on either side by densely wooded hills- that's Shenandoah for you. And encompassing part of this, as well as a chunk of the eastern Appalachian Mountains, is Shenandoah National Park. Just about 150 km from Washington DC, Shenandoah's proximity to the national capital makes it a popular weekend getaway and a great way of getting in touch with wild America without having to venture too far. Located in north-west Virginia, the Shenandoah National Park straddles the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains. The entire area is one of clear gurgling streams, waterfalls, and dense woods, the latter inhabited by a wide spectrum of animals and birds. Racoon, fox, white-tailed deer, black bear, woodchuck, river otter, weasel and bobcat are some of the mammals you can expect to see, and there are an estimated 200-odd species of birds too, including wild turkeys, warblers, finches, and an amazing range of raptors. The brooks and ponds harbour frogs, toads, and plenty of fish. The range of activities offered by Shenandoah National Park is very wide; visitors can go wildlife-watching, picnicking, camping, horse-riding, hiking or biking, and even driving through the park. Fishing is allowed in certain streams, but predominantly on a catch-and-release basis.

Best time to visit

Shenandoah can be visited at any time of the year, although summer or early autumn are definitely preferable- the weather's much more comfortable than in winter. Winters in Shenandoah can be very severe, with snow, ice and freezing winds being a common affair. Go well-clad, and dress in layered clothing. Note that rain is frequent in summer, and temperatures in the mountains are always lower than in the plains.


There are no buses, shuttle services or taxis within Shenandoah, so bring your own transport- unless you plan to hike. Hiking (or biking), in fact, are the best ways of seeing the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley at close quarters; some 800 odd km of hiking trails meander their way through Shenandoah. This includes a 163 km long


American citizens are eligible for lifetime passes, which allow entry to all the national parks in the country. These passes are free for those with permanent disabilities, and cost a nominal amount- between US$10 and 50- for everybody else.

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