Shenandoah National Park rises above the Virginia Piedmont to its east and the Shenandoah Valley to its west. Two peaks, Stony Man and Hawksbill, exceed 4,000 feet. The range of elevation, slopes and aspects, rocks and soils, precipitation, and latitude create a mix of habitats.
Tens of thousands of living creatures make their homes in the park, from black bear resting beneath rock overhangs, to tiny aquatic insects darting through cool mountain streams. The park is the only place in the world where Shenandoah salamanders live.
Most of Shenandoah's landscape is forested. In the process of photosynthesis green plants give off oxygen. From a distance this air-born water creates a faint haze giving the Blue Ridge its name. The haze has taken on other ingredients introduced by humans, but air quality is improving.