Winter in Shenandoah

A close up of a snowflake against a dark background.

The typical winter season in Shenandoah National Park is from November through February, with average temperatures ranging from 29°F to 39°F during the day, although winter weather can occur anytime between October and March.

While many services close during the winter, the Park is always open and there are still many ways to visit and enjoy Shenandoah in the colder months. As leaves fall off the trees and cooler temperatures improve visibility, the valley below and mountains beyond are more spectacular than ever. With less visitors, you will also have a better chance of finding solitude and watching animals like deer, squirrels, birds, and foxes as they forage and hunt for food.


Driving Skyline Drive in the Winter

Skyline Drive remains open throughout the winter, unless it is closed due to snowy or icy conditions. Because of cold mountain temperatures, it can take diligent work crews several days to reopen Skyline Drive after winter storms. If the Drive is open, however, here are a few things to keep in mind when driving through the Park in the winter:

  • Be sure your gas tank is full before entering the Park. Fuel is available through self-pay at Big Meadows, but gas pumps can be unreliable.
  • Have warm clothing and/or blankets in case your vehicle becomes disabled. You may have to wait for assistance.
  • Weather conditions may require driving under the speed limit (35 miles per hour). There may be icy patches on shaded curves that otherwise appear dry.

Hiking in the Winter

Just because fall is over doesn't mean you have to give up hiking for the year! With all of the leaves off the trees, trails can offer views during the winter that they don't feature the rest of the year. Even if Skyline Drive is closed due to inclement weather, Shenandoah National Park is still open to hiking. The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is accessible from the Park entrance stations, and many other trails are easily accessible from the Park boundary. Whenever you're out hiking in the colder months, here a few tips to help keep yourself safe:

  • Winter weather in Shenandoah is unpredictable. Temperatures are usually 10oF to 20oF cooler than in the lowlands and weather conditions can change quickly. What comes down as rain in the valley below can be ice and snow on the mountain.
  • Wear extra clothing layers, and bring extra water, food, flashlights, and a map in case you get caught in a winter storm.
  • Be sure to carry microspikes or traction coil devices for your boots with you. Even when it's perfectly clear in lower elevations, trails can be be icy and snow-covered and these devices can protect you from a nasty fall!

Available Phones Along Skyline Drive

Cell phones do not work in many areas of the Park. Because of this, there are phones available for use along Skyline Drive. Emergency phones connect directly to the Park emergency services number: (800) 732-0911

Restroom Facilities Open in Winter

4.6 Dickey Ridge Visitor Center Flush restroom, water spigot (not frost-proof; will be turned off)
24.1 Elkwallow Picnic Grounds Picnic area, vault toilets, frost-proof water spigot
31.5 Thornton Gap Entrance Station Frost-proof water spigot
31.5 Panorama Flush restroom, frost-proof water spigot
35.1 Pinnacles Picnic Grounds Picnic area, vault toilets, frost-proof water spigot
51 Byrd Visitor Center Flush restroom, water spigot (not frost-proof; will be turned off)
62.7 South River Picnic Grounds Picnic area, vault toilets, water spigot (not potable; must be boiled)
65.5 Swift Run Entrance Station Frost-proof water spigot
83.7 Dundo Picnic Grounds Picnic area, vault toilets, frost-proof water spigot (not potable; must be boiled.

Last updated: November 30, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


540 999-3500
Emergency Phone: 1-800-732-0911

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