Shenandoah National Park is the nearest of the 58 US national parks from my home, around 60 miles away. As such, it’s a great place to go for weekend outdoor activities when the weather is nice. The main route through the park is the Skyline Drive, which stretches around 100 miles from the north entrance to the south entrance of the park. There are a couple of highways that cut across the park, so you can also enter or exit the park at those points instead of coming or going all the way to the end.
Most people visiting the park stay only on the Skyline Drive. It has many nice lookouts where you can stop and enjoy the scenery. But if you’re physically able and have the time, I think you can enjoy the park even more by hiking through some of the 500 miles of trails within the park. Some of these trails take you to places with scenic views of the Shenandoah Valley, while others take you to waterfalls and streams. About 100 miles of the legendary Appalachian Trail goes through Shenandoah, so you might meet hikers in the middle of doing that epic journey. During the hike, you might also encounter the wildlife, from deer to wild turkey, rabbit, or even black bear. So for nature photographers who live in DC area, this is one of the popular photography destinations nearby.
The photo below was taken from a lookout on Skyline Drive in the morning, not long after the sunrise. You could see some of the clouds and fogs still covering the lower altitude area in the valley.