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The Best Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park in 2024

The Best Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park in 2024

What's the best time to visit Shenandoah National Park?

The best time to visit Shenandoah National Park is in late spring, around April and May, when you’ll find warmer weather and quieter trails. This season is perfect for hiking, as the snow has melted and the temperatures are comfortable. Plus, it’s a peaceful time for wildlife viewing, though it’s wise to stay bear-aware and make some noise while hiking.

Have you ever dreamed of hiking trails that go miles in the gorgeous mountainous wilderness, home to majestic waterfalls and animals? If so, you would probably love Shenandoah National Park.

The park lies just a couple of hours outside Washington DC and is a trendy travel destination for nature lovers worldwide. Below, we’ll show  you the best time to visit Shenandoah for the best weather, to stretch your budget, and more.

Overall Best Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park

Guy standing on a rock face and holding his arms up with a natural pool below him that overlooks a dense forest in Shenandoah National Park

Guoqiang Xue/Shutterstock

The overall best time to visit Shenandoah National Park is late spring, between April and May. As famous as it is, Shenandoah can get extremely crowded when summer rolls around, and visiting in the spring spares you of the crowds.

Spring is the time to go if you want to experience the best of the park and avoid the crowd. For one, the snow is usually all melted by April and May.

The only places you may see a little snow clinging on are the deeper tree cover or the mountains. By this time, the typical spring showers have also eased off, making way for warmer days. Between April and May is also considered the best time for hikers.

For long-haul hikers, you’ll get to start with a cooler morning, and it won’t get too hot throughout the day. The trails will also be emptier, mainly if you leave early in the morning.

If you’re hiking any time during the peak season, you’ll see plenty of other people on the trails. For the peace of the wilderness, spring is the time to go. If you’re looking out for wildlife, late spring is just the end of the period when you expect animals to be the most active.

With the quiet winter, some of the shyer animals are probably out of their hiding spots for a little while before the busy peak of spring. One thing to look out for, however, is bears.

As a general rule of thumb, try to make a little noise as you’re hiking through the woods around this time of year, as black bears tend to avoid people, and they’ll go away if they hear you. Also be sure to carry a container of bear spray. See our top recommendations here.

Cheapest Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park

Gorgeous view of the orange trees making a tunnel above the road during the cheapest time to visit Shenandoah National Park with a car driving down the road

Vladimir Grablev/Shutterstock

There are a few cheap times to visit Shenandoah. These dates are usually out of the peak season and aren’t near any major holidays that would make people want to visit the park.

The dates are:

  • January 8th to March 11th
  • April 16th to May 6th
  • August 6th to November 18th

January to March is usually a part of the park’s slower winter season when many services are closed. There are also fewer people looking to get out into the great outdoors when snow is on the ground.

The prices don’t drop until January as some visitors may still find the park and its nearby hotels as the perfect getaway for their Christmas. From April to May, there is another slow period just outside the peak times in the summer.

Coincidently, this is also considered one of the best times to visit the park during the year. August to November is the end of the summer, and most families leave the park to get their kids to school.

This is also a great time to visit as the weather is still lovely, and many services are open for a little while. The only exception from August to November is the last two weeks in October when prices start to spike a little again.

This is likely because of Halloween and the spooky vibes of a forest at this time of year that people love. The absolute cheapest time to visit is usually in early September.

Again, this coincides with when most families leave the park as kids return to school. September still has excellent weather as well. This time of year is still considered peak season, so some services may be crowded.

Least Busy Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park

Cascades on the south river with moss-covered rocks in the stream pictured during the least busy time to visit Shenandoah National Park

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Shenandoah National Park is in the mid-winter, from November to March. The only downside to this time of year is many (but not all) of the services are shut down for the winter. It still makes a great time to go snowshoeing or enjoy some quiet nature.

If you go in the spring, you’ll experience many services, but it can get a little chilly in early spring. Late spring is considered one of the best times to go as the weather gets warmer, but the park is still not too busy.

If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, focus on weekdays. From the peak season of June to November, the park will be the most crowded on the weekends.

If you go during the middle of the week, mainly if you visit early in the morning, you’ll get all the goodness of the warmth and sun of summer without the pressing crowds.

Worst Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park

Sun rises over the snow-capped mountains and trees during the winter, the worst time to visit Shenandoah National Park


There are two answers to this, depending on what you’re looking for. If you hate crowds, don’t go on weekends during the peak season.

The park will be overcrowded, and it will be nearly impossible to have a moment of solitude no matter where you go. This is why we recommend either going on a weekday or in the spring before the summer rush starts.

If you want clear trails, fantastic weather, and plenty of programs, don’t go in the winter.

Winter is cold, the weather can be treacherous sometimes, and many services are shut down for the season. You can still go hiking, but you may need extra gear, such as boot spikes and plenty of layers.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Shenandoah National Park?

The verdict is in! We say that late spring is the best time to visit Shenandoah. Not only do you take advantage of the warming temperatures after a long winter, but you also get to avoid the crowds that come during peak season.

If you plan to visit during the spring, remember to bring a couple of extra layers with you in case it gets chilly, and we hope you enjoy your time. Happy travels!