Where is Shenandoah River State Park
Shenandoah River State Park is an outdoor recreation area in the state of Virginia. The state park is located on the south fork of the Shenandoah River. In addition to the access it provides to the Shenandoah River, Shenandoah River State Park also grants visitors the opportunity to recreate amongst the park’s various trails designated for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. Visitors traveling to the state park will also find a campground, riverside picnic areas, and an array of scenic views that feature Massanutten Mountain and Shenandoah National Park. Bentonville, Virginia is the closest city to Shenandoah River US State Park. The state park is located four hours south of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and an hour and a half west of Washington D.C.
How Large is Shenandoah River State Park
Shenandoah River State Park is one of the largest state parks in the state of Virginia. The state park contains acres of hardwood forests, open meadows, river shore, and other riparian environments. The total area of the park measures over 1,615 acres. Hikers visiting the park can expect to find more than 24 miles of hiking trails that meander across the park’s surface. The Shenandoah River itself is also very impressive. The river is a tributary of the larger Potomac River, and stretches for about 56 miles across Virginia and West Virginia. The northern mouth of the river is found in Front Royal, Virginia, where the river diverges into the north and south forks. In Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the Shenandoah River empties back into the Potomac River.
Shenandoah River State Park Weather
The weather of Shenandoah River State Park is often referred to as a sub-tropical climate which is commonly found across the lower eastern coast of the United States. This climate features hot summers and mild but crisp winters. Rainfall is steady in Shenandoah River State Park throughout the year but is not extremely prevalent. Visitors arriving at the park during the winter months may experience snowfall. The average summer temperatures of Shenandoah River State Park fluctuate between 60- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures in the park normally reach lows of around 20 degrees. Snowfall is most common throughout December and January, and the park.
When did Shenandoah River Become a State Park
Shenandoah River State Park received its designation and was added to the Virginia state park system in 1994. The state park’s full name, Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park was developed as an honor to the longtime resident and delegate of Virginia, Andy Guest. The state park’s creation is mostly attributed to the need to provide Virginia residents with access to the Shenandoah River and its resources. Other motivations include protection of the Chesapeake Watershed and the various wildlife species that call the park and surrounding area home. The park is managed and maintained by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Things to do in Shenandoah River State Park
Visitors arriving at Shenandoah River State Park will find a variety of outdoor recreation activities they can participate in. Fishing, hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and camping are all common throughout the park. The following list includes several adventures and unique experiences found throughout Shenandoah River State Park
Start at the Visitor Center
Our State Park Visitors Guide points out that the visitor center is the perfect place for visitors to begin their adventure. The visitor center at Shenandoah River State Park is no exception. In addition to containing valuable park information, the visitor center also features several exhibits on wildlife in the area, a fish tank stocked with species from the Shenandoah River, a gift shop, and a concession stand. Park staff working in the visitor center can also assist visitors with specific questions or concerns.
Hike on the Park’s Trail System
The trail system at Shenandoah River State Park contains over 24 miles of trails. About 14 of these miles are designated as multi-use trails. However, hikers visiting Shenandoah River State Park generally use the trails the most. The longest trail in the park is the Bear Bottom Loop at a length of 5.4 miles. The park also contains a rich variety of easy, moderate, and difficult trails. Visitors looking for a challenge should embark down the previously mentioned Bear Bottom Loop or the half mile long Shale Barrens trail.
Freshwater Fishing on the Shenandoah River
Anglers recreating on the Shenandoah River normally fish by wading in the river. The river is not extremely deep at any point. Popular species targeted along the Shenandoah and Potomac River System include smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, blue gills, black crappie, and channel catfish. All visitors wishing to fish during their visit to the park will need to obtain a valid Virginia freshwater fishing license. All Virginia fishing regulations also apply within the park.
Lodging Opportunities in the Park
Shenandoah River State Park offers visitors a diverse selection of overnight lodging options. The park manages a campground, cabins, lodge, and a variety of yurts. The campground at Shenandoah River State Park contains sites suited for recreational vehicles and tent campers. All lodging reservations can be made online through the park website and reservation portal.
Watch for Wildlife
Shenandoah River State Park and the surrounding area supports a variety of woodland wildlife. Visitors looking to spot wildlife in the park are most likely to see white-tailed deer, squirrels, chipmunks, racoons, Virginia opossums, skunks, eastern cottontails, and a variety of songbirds during their trip. The park also protects a few reptilian and amphibian species.
A Variety of Interpretive Programs
Visitors looking to learn more about an specific aspect of Shenandoah River State Park can search for a correlating program that is offered during their stay. The interpretive programs offered at the park vary in topic, but normally divulge a discussion around the park’s wildlife, rivershed management, and history.
Boating Access in the Park
Shenandoah River State Park operates no boat rental services. Several outfitters are located near the state park that rent kayaks and canoes. Visitors bringing their own watercraft can utilize the boat ramps found throughout Shenandoah River State Park.
Swimming in the Park
Shenandoah River State Park does not manage any designated swimming areas. However, wading and floating is permitted throughout the park and along the entire length of the Shenandoah River. Visitors should be careful diving under the water’s surface, as the riverbed contains an assortment of dangers.
Horseback Riding in the Park
All visitors wishing to take advantage of the equestrian facilities at Shenandoah River State Park will be happy they did so. There are several miles of trails found in the park which are designated for horseback riding. Check out the park and give your legs a break!
When to Visit Shenandoah River State Park
Shenandoah River State Park can be visited throughout the entire year. However, a visitor's outdoor recreation interest will determine the best season for their visitation. Summers in the park are excellent for hiking, fishing, and floating on the Shenandoah River. Fall is conducive to comfortable camping and excellent scenic views as the area’s foliage undergoes its seasonal transition. The winter season can bring occasional snowfall and is well suited for snowshoeing or a wintery walk throughout the park. Spring is the perfect time for wildlife enthusiasts to visit the park, as wildlife is the most active during the season.
Must Have Items to Bring to Shenandoah River State Park
Visitors planning their trip to Shenandoah River State Park should take a good amount of time to pack for the park. A variety of items can make a trip to the park more enjoyable, comfortable, and memorable. List of Parks advises that the following items range between being essential and simply useful.
Water & Energy Filled Snacks
Water is essential for any trip outdoors. Energy filled snacks are also vital and important. The best snacks visitors can bring to consume while hiking and otherwise recreating throughout the park are lightweight, easy to consume, and full of energy. Think beef jerky and trail mix.
Fishing Tackle & License
Fishing is one of the most practiced activities in Shenandoah River State Park. All anglers traveling to the park should remember to bring all of their freshwater fishing supplies and obtain a valid Virginia freshwater fishing license.
Comfortable Hiking Boots
The trails found throughout Shenandoah River State Park traverse a variety of terrain and geographic landforms. Visitors looking to hike in the park should purchase a sturdy yet comfortable pair of hiking boots. Visitors should also look to break these hiking boots in before visiting the park to protect against blisters.
Bringing a digital camera to Shenandoah River State Park is a great way to document your trip and create memories you can look back on for years to come. The variety of scenery found throughout Shenandoah River State Park will provide a variety of great photographs.
Field Guides & Park Maps
While field guides are not necessary to enjoy Shenandoah River State Park, visitors interested in the park’s wildlife may find them useful and educational. Digital park maps can be found on the park’s website. However, visitors can also obtain these maps from the park visitor center once they arrive.
Even the minimalist of camping trips requires a variety of outdoor equipment. The best way to remember all this equipment when packing for Shenandoah River State Park is through the use of a camping checklist.
A Variety of Layers
Nightly temperatures in Shenandoah River State Park can drop significantly. Visitors looking to camp within the park should bring a variety of layers to keep them comfortable and warm during the day and throughout the night.
Where to Stay in Shenandoah River State Park
Lodging in Shenandoah River State Park includes a campground, cabins, lodge rooms, and a selection of yurts. Visitors wishing to make reservations can do so through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to find a hotel outside of the park can check out options in Bentonville or Front Royal.
Food Near Shenandoah River State Park
The closest restaurants to Shenandoah River State Park are located eight miles away in Front Royal. Bentonville also contains a variety of convenience stores and gas stations that are slightly closer. More restaurants and dining options await visitors of Shenandoah River State Park near Washington D.C.
Airports Near Shenandoah River State Park
The Dulles International Airport is the closest international airport to Shenandoah River State Park. The airport is located an hour and a half drive east of the park in Washington D.C. Other international airports in the proximity of Shenandoah River State Park are located in Baltimore, Maryland and Richmond, Virginia.