Shenandoah National Park – Part 1


After a wonderful day in Pennsylvania’s Somerset Country, we got up early the next morning and headed out to Shenandoah National Park.  It was about a 2.5 hour long drive, so we were able to spend most of the day in Shenandoah.  Our route took us from Pennsylvania, through Maryland and West Virginia, and into Virginia.  I always get a bit of a kick when I cross a state-line, because, being from south Texas, it’s not something that I ever did on any regular basis while growing up.  Taking photographs from a moving vehicle (especially when you don’t have a good feel for when you’re going to pass the signs) is easier said than done, but I managed to get a photograph of each of the “welcome to…” signs as we crossed the state-lines that morning.

State-Line Signs

Shenandoah National Park was established on December 26, 1935, though the park was authorized back in 1926.  According to Wikipedia, 500 families were forced to give up their homes for the creation of the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive.  We started our journey through Shenandoah at the northeast entrance in Front Royal and drove south along Skyline Drive towards Waynesboro.  We received a map when we paid our entry fee and entered through the north entrance.  Once we made it into the national park, we stopped at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center to stamp our National Parks Passport book and to pick up a few souvenirs (including the vintage-looking vinyl cling in the following collage) before making our way further into the park.

If you’re planning a visit to Shenandoah, be sure to check the park website beforehand to check for road closures, trail closures, ongoing forest fires, burn bans, etc.

Shenandoah National Park Signs

It didn’t take us very long to make our first friend in the park.  While we were driving along, this leaf fell and got stuck on our windshield.  For some reason, we were both very amused by this…maybe it’s the lack of trees where we live.

Our Shenandoah Friend

Skyline drive was beautiful, and there were trees everywhere. We got there at just about the right time to be able to see trees changing colors along the entire drive.

Typical Skyline Drive Scenery

Skyline drive is definitely photographer-friendly, as there are tons of places to pull over one the side of the road.  We stopped at countless pull-overs to get out, take in the scenery, and snap a few photographs.

Typical Skyline Drive Scenery

Mary’s Rock Tunnel was constructed in 1932 and is considered to be one of the great engineering feats of Shenandoah National Park.  It is 610 feet long — which means that the men who built the tunnel bore and blasted through 610 feet of dense granite to construct the tunnel.  Oh, what back-breaking labor the construction of this tunnel must have required!

Exiting Mary’s Rock Tunnel

The South End of Mary’s Rock Tunnel

In addition to beautiful trees, Skyline Drive also offers great views of the Blueridge Mountains.

My intent is for this post to serve as an introductory post to Shenandoah National Park.  I’m going to make a few additional posts that will cover the trails that we hiked in the park, as well as the gorgeous sunset that we got to watch on our first day in the park.

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