Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park and Beyond: 5 Ways to See the Blue Ridge Mountains
- Washington, D.C.
Named for their blue color when viewed from a distance, the Blue Ridge Mountains are believed to be one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
They’re easily accessed from the USA’s bustling Capital Region (which includes Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia). Check out five exciting ways to experience these unforgettable mountains.
Scenic Rides – Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway
Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and, further south, the Blue Ridge Parkway (often called simply “the Parkway”), are among the most scenic drives in the USA, particularly if you’re visiting during autumn leaf season.
The northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park is about 1.5 hours away from downtown D.C. The 169-kilometer Skyline Drive runs the length of the park and can be driven in 3-4 hours, but plan for an entire day if you want to hike.
The south end of Skyline Drive hooks up with the Parkway, known as “America’s Favorite Drive.” There are countless trailheads right off the road, scenic overlooks and convenient exits for access to amenities. For experienced riders, cycling is permitted on both routes as well.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia: Hiking, Biking and Mountain Beauty
Hiking – The Appalachian Trail
The whole family can enjoy hiking and exploring portions of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park.
Rock Climbing – Virginia
Rock Climbing opportunities are abundant throughout Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Horseback Riding – Virginia and Maryland
Elk Mountain Trails in Knoxville, Maryland offers tours for all experience levels that take you through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Or explore the Blue Ridge foothills in Virginia on one of Marriott Ranch’s popular riding packages. These and other outfitters provide all you need to view and ride through the mountains on horseback.
Explore the USA's Capital Region by horseback – where rides are complemented with incredible views of the countryside.
Camping – State and National Parks
For an immersive experience in the Blue Ridge Mountains, bring or rent camping gear and spend a night (or two) under the stars.