Few national parks in the United States have experienced as great a reversal in their historical outlook as Shenandoah National Park. Once the longtime home of various native tribes, then the epicenter of white industry in the mid-Atlantic, and finally the devastating product of merciless drought, Shenandoah National Park now stands as a testament to preservation and renewal. Thanks to the people of Virginia and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), nearly 200,000 acres of this preserved forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains will forever remain a safe haven for trees, wildlife and visitors from around the world.
Troubled history and new tranquility at Shenandoah National Park
Just 75 miles from the political capital of the U.S., Shenandoah National Park is a gleaming beacon of the wonders of nature when it’s truly cared for and protected. For centuries, natives lived in the Shenandoah Valley, hunting white-tailed deer and relying on the Shenandoah River, until they were pushed out of the region and replaced by industry in the form of lumber, mining and agriculture.
Over time, manmade erosion and overutilization caused the region to wither, and eventually drought and economic depression spelled ultimate demise for this once luscious forest. In the late 1930s, though, the people of Virginia took back their land, and sold it to the National Park Service (NPS), ensuring that it would thereafter remain protected.
The NPS and CCC restored the land and built facilities that would draw visitors to Shenandoah National Park, many of which are still in use today. From the Harry F. Byrd Visitors Center and Massanutten Lodge to the Little Stony Man Overlook and Skyline Drive, options are everywhere for visitors to venture out and experience the peace and beauty of Shenandoah National Park. If you’re willing, pick a trail and head to the scenic portions of the park, whether by the great Appalachian Trail or a smaller branch that leads to destinations like Dark Hollow Falls. Either way, there’s no rush, Shenandoah National Park plans to be here for a long, long time!