The formation of eastern National Parks was very different than their western counterparts. In the east parks were cobbled together from many disparate sources to form one cohesive whole. This makes it all the more remarkable that Shenandoah National Park has 40% of the present park classified as wilderness.
The park is long and thin with the Shenandoah Valley on the eastern boundary. This is a great place to visit as well with the wealth of historic sites in the area. Numerous Civil War battlefields are within an easy drive from the park. Running along the crest of the mountains north to south in the park is the Skyline Drive, a scenic paved road offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
As you make your way along the drive especially if you can plan on an early morning or evening trip be sure to keep your eyes open for wildlife. You may see a turkey vulture calmly sitting in a tree,
A family of bears on the side of the road,
or a fleeting glimpse of a dear as he scampers away.
The Appalachian Trail also runs along the park and there are many trail heads where you can hike part of the trail. I will certainly never be an AT Thru-hiker but I can say that I have hiked at least a portion of the AT in every state with the exception of Georgia.
There are many other methods to enjoy the park besides hiking or driving such as by horse:
There are two visitor centers where you can get your passport to the National Parks stamped; The Dickey Ridge Visitor Center at milepost 5.6 on Skyline Drive and the Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center at milepost 51. There are exhibits and orientation films available and helpful rangers are at both centers to aid your exploration of the park.
Bring a picnic lunch there are seven picnic areas at mileposts; 4.6, 24.1, 36.7, 51.2, 57.5, 62.8 and 83.7 on Skyline Drive. The park can be crowded in the height of the summer season but remember that you will drop 99% of the tourists if you get 1 mile into the back-country. By all means take a trip along Skyline Drive but be sure to get out and enjoy other aspects of the park as well.