Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge
Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia
. This national park is long and narrow, with the broad Shenandoah River and Valley on the west side, and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont on the east. Although the scenic Skyline Drive
is likely the most prominent feature of the Park, almost 40% of the land area 79,579 acres (322.04 km2) has been designated as wilderness and is protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The highest peak is Hawksbill Mountain
at 4,051 feet (1,235 m).
The park encompasses parts of eight counties. On the west side of Skyline Drive they are, from northeast to southwest, Warren, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta counties. On the east side of Skyline Drive they are Rappahannock, Madison, Greene, and Albemarle counties. The park stretches for 105 miles (169 km) along Skyline Drive from near the town of Front Royal
in the northeast to near the city of Waynesboro
in the southwest.
The park is located along the western part of the Blue Ridge anticlinorium, a regional-scale Paleozoic structure at the eastern margin of the Appalachian fold and thrust belt. Rocks within the park were folded, faulted, distorted, and metamorphosed during the late Paleozoic Alleghanian orogeny (325 to 260million years ago). The rugged topography of Blue Ridge Mountains is a result of differential erosion during the Cenozoic, although some post-Paleozoic tectonic activity occurred in the region.