Learn and Explore
Fall weekends bring two things: gorgeous fall foliage and large crowds. As the weather begins to cool and the trees exchange their leaves of green for reds, oranges, and yellows, visitors come from all over to experience all that Shenandoah National Park has to offer. If you're planning on visiting during this busy time, however, there are few things that you need to plan for in order to get the most out of your fall trip:
Avoid the Crowds
At the trailhead: fall is typically our busiest time of year. For the best chance of avoiding crowded trails and full parking lots, try to visit Shenandoah during the week. If a parking area is full, it's time to move on to another trail. Use this busy time of year to look for the hidden gems that are less traveled!
At entrance stations: the two most northern entrances, Front Royal and Thornton Gap, are the busiest and have the longest waits. Try a nice circuit trip south through the lowlands on Route 29 to the east or on Route 340 to the west to Swift Run (Route 33) or Rockfish (Route 64) entrance stations, and then return via the Skyline Drive.
At campgrounds: all of our campgrounds book quickly on fall weekends, although there are some first-come, first-served sites available. You cannot reserve a first-come, first-served site by calling the Park directly; you must be at the campground in person. These sites fill quickly — usually by Thursday evening.
Wondering what's up with the color in Shenandoah? We've devised several ways to keep you posted, but remember: the Park is over 100 miles long and spans a wide elevation range. Fall color conditions can vary dramatically from area to area, and weather affects the color from hour-to-hour. Because of this, it's impossible to predict a peak time for fall color. There are ways that you can stay up-to-date on current leaf conditions in the Park, however:
Fall Color Comparison
Naked Creek Overlook | 09.27.2020 Lara Ellis
Naked Creek Overlook | 11.08.2020 Lara Ellis
Last updated: March 12, 2021