As the temperature drops and the leaves fall from the trees, visibility in the park improves. The views of the valley below and mountains beyond – now unobstructed – are even more spectacular in winter.
Even if you have already been to Shenandoah in a different season, a crisp, winter visit is one of the best times of the year to experience the park. While now is the time when much of the foliage is in its winter slumber, the wildlife is teeming in Shenandoah with all manner of creature on the hunt for food.
In the quiet cold of winter, your senses will be heightened, as you find yourself listening and looking for chickadees, nuthatches, and a host of woodpeckers scouring for seeds and berries – or peeking under bark for hard-to-find insects.
In addition to smaller, feathered residents, the park also plays host to larger game as well, like deer, squirrels, and turkeys who spend much of their time in winter out in the open, foraging for food.
As you take in the sights and sounds of the season, if you look carefully, you can locate signs of life from rarer-to-find animals that often keep to themselves. On a walk through the snow, you will undoubtedly come across smaller tracks left by animals like mice, rabbits, and other burrowing creatures. If you are lucky, you may also encounter traces of foxes and bobcats as well.
Shenandoah National Park is open year-round and is waiting to welcome visitors, but keep in mind, the lodging and food services, campgrounds, and visitor centers close from December through March. If you are planning a winter visit, be sure to check road conditions. Portions of Skyline Drive – the only public road through the park – are periodically closed during inclement weather and at night during deer hunting season.
For current conditions and information, visit www.nps.gov/shen