Shenandoah, daughter of the stars
I have visited nearly 30 national parks in the United States, but there is one park that I visited more times than all the others combined, and this one is Shenandoah National Park.
In Native American language, "Shenandoah" means "daughter of the stars". Although its sceneries are not as spectacular as those in other more well-known parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite or Grand Canyon, and its peaks and ranges (the highest peak, Hawk's Bill, is "merely" 4,051 feet high) are dwarfed by its western counterparts, there is a subtle beauty in its gentle hills, misty ridges and shaded valleys. And siutated in the temperate part of the country, each season has beauty of its own.
And the best part for me? It is just a couple of hours of drive away from where I live. As a "traveler at home", whenever the urge seizes me -- whenver "the mountains start calling", I can always pack my bag and go. Over the last decade or so I have hiked more than 40 times in the park (and counting; as of October 2014. I am sure I will keep adding to the tally). Each time I hike in the park, even when on trails that I have hiked more than once before, it is still an adventure for me. I cannot imagine there will come a time that I will become "tired" of the park.
Thus, I created this page to celebrate the beauty and diversity in this park, and I hope you share my admiration.
Click each link or image below to access each page.
If you are interested in visiting, and especially hiking in the park, I highly recommend the following books:
Hiking Shenandoah National Park (Regional Hiking Series) by Jane Gildart.
For a more portable version (and for easier hikes), I recommend the following pocket-sized version by the same author:
Best Easy Day Hikes Shenandoah National Park (Best Easy Day Hikes Series)
If your interest goes beyond just visiting or hiking in the park and you want to learn more about the natural and human history of Shenandoah National Park and its surrounding region, I also recommend the following books:
Mountains of the Heart: A Natural History of the Appalachians by Scott Weidensaul
(Very detailed information about the entire Appalachian region in execellent, fluid writing, highly recommended!)
The Height of Our Mountains: Nature Writing from Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley -- a collection of essays about the region, from Colonial times to the present, compiled by Michael P. Branch and Daniel J. Philippon, this may well be your "portal" to learning the natural history of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Vally. Although out of print, if you can find a copy, it is well worth the read! highly recommended!
The Undying Past of Shenandoah National Park by Darwin Lambert -- if your interest is more about the human history of the park, this is the book you defintely must read.
Skyland: The Heart of the Shenandoah National Park by George F. Pollock -- the story as told by the controversial figure who was the founder of the Skyland resort and instrumental in the designation of the Sheanandoah National Park, probably not as objective and unbiases as Darwin Lambert's book above, but very colorful and entertaining, long out of print and worth a read!
Walking with Spring by Earl Schaffer -- the narrative of the first Appalachian Trail "thru-hiking", if you are interested in hiking parts or the entirety of the AT, this is a must-read! highly recommended!
Mountain Nature: A Seasonal Natural History of the Southern Appalachians by Jennifer Frick-Ruppert -- a season-by-season guide to the natural history of this region, written by a professional biologist. If you need a guidebook of this kind, this is the one to have. highly recommended!
Learning the Valley: Excursions into the Shenandoah Valley by John Leland -- a more up-to-date account of the Shenandoah Valley, in the American nature writing tradition, this is also a book worth reading.
Hiking Virginia (State Hiking Guides Series) by Bill and Mary Burnham -- if you want to hike outside the park's boundary, this guidebook has more trails for you to choose from.
Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Ultimate Travel Guide To America's Most Popular Scenic Roadway (Regional Hiking Series) by Randy Johnson -- if you are interested in hiking the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway, this book has an excellent collection for you.
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