Shenandoah National Park

Seasons and Weather
Big Run Overlook, Shenandoah National Park
Big Run Overlook, Shenandoah National Park (courtesy, NPS)


Shenandoah is cooler and wetter than the surrounding lowlands. A good rule of thumb is to find out the temperature in Washington, D.C. or Richmond and subtract 15 degrees.

Spring arrives late in the park compared to the lowlands. The first wildflowers don't begin blooming until April, and trees leaf out in May. Area residents talk about the "green line" that climbs the mountain as trees leaf out at successive elevations.

Summer is the most popular time in the park. Generally the days are pleasant and the nights are cool—pack a sweater. The summer can also be disappointingly hazy, blocking the views you came miles to see. Wildflowers blaze throughout summer.

While not the brilliant displays of a maple forest, Shenandoah's fall colors are deep and rich. Foilage changes start with the Virginia Creeper in September, then oak and hickory turn a deep brick-red. Many flowers bloom, including the asters, goldenrod, and white snakeroot.

Snowfall is modest, but the mountains serve up lots of ice and frost. The air is clearest, and you can see for miles through the bare branches of trees; views you could never see in summer. Most park services are closed, so if you venture into the park, be well-stocked and prepared, with food, gas, and warm clothing.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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