Nature

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.

 
A small grey bird on a branch looking to the side.

Animals

From black bears and birds to snakes and salamanders, there are hundreds of animals that call Shenandoah home.

A small white flower surrounded by dead leaves.

Plants

While oak and hickory trees tower above us, small ferns, grasses, and fungi dwell on the forest floor.

A sun rising over clouds with a fog ocean on the ground.

Air & Climate

Air quality, climate change, and night skies all affect Shenandoah's ecosystem and the experiences of visitors to this special place.

A pile of rocks in the woods.

Geology

Shenandoah's story began a billion years ago and has continued ever since. The rocks below are feet help us learn this story.

A tree in the middle of a meadow surrounded by fog.

Ecosystems

The mountains of Shenandoah are home to a variety of ecosystems from the larger scale oak-hickory forest to fragile rock outcrops.

A misty waterfall surrounded by sunny woods.

Water

While water makes for a popular destination, this critical park resource is researched for the health of the forest and people around it.

A landscape with burnt, bare trees and green shrubs beginning to grow on the ground.

Fire Ecology

Fire has a role to play in the ecosystem of Shenandoah National Park.

 
Shenandoah National Park's Natural and Cultural Resource staff take on the challenge of protecting these ecosystems. But we can not do it without your help. Learn more about science and research at Shenandoah and join us by becoming a steward of this special place!

Last updated: December 7, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835

Phone:

(540) 999-3500

Contact Us