4 Stunning Waterfalls In Shenandoah National Park (2024)

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Want to know how to explore the stunning waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

First established in 1935, Shenandoah National Park has since become one of the most celebrated national parks in the United States.

Its gorgeous natural beauty spans 197,411 acres and it plays a role in the conservation of animals and plants within its lands. 

Here, you can also find the iconic Skyline Drive.

This takes you through 105 miles of lush forests, vibrant valleys, and the unforgettable Blue Ridge Mountains.

There’s a reason why John Denver sang so longingly about the delights of Shenandoah and these country roads, and why generations after him continue to croon for it still. 

Part of what makes the park so special is how it came to be from the efforts of Virginians themselves.

Shenandoah National Park waterfall

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Stunning Waterfalls In Shenandoah National Park

In National Geographic’s coverage, we learn that settlers lived in the park for more than a century before it became what it is today.

Today, you still see remnants of bygone settlements and resting places built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Shenandoah has a storied history, thousands of plant species, hundreds of animals from birds to mammals and reptiles, and varied archeological sites that also include 11 entries in the National Register of Historic Places.

If you’re looking for some natural splendor that will make your jaw drop, this park is home to many wondrous waterfalls that are worth exploring. 

1. Dark Hollow Falls

Dark Hollow Falls is arguably one of the most popular waterfalls to visit in Shenandoah National Park.

Its name may sound pretty scary, but this doesn’t reflect how the falls actually are.

It’s intimidating only in name but ultimately dreamy, much like the equally captivating Death Valley

As noted by a guide on sun and water safety for families, it’s important to avoid rough play and running here as it will likely lead to injury.

This will be essential to remember when hiking Dark Hollow Falls’ trail.

It can get extremely wet and steep despite being a short and generally kid-friendly trek. 

The many cascading waterfalls are quite a sight to see during the roughly one-and-a-half-hour journey.

You’ll likely see lots of cool little insects and wildlife minding their business in their habitat.

If you’re going on a weekend or the peak season, though, expect to contend with lots of other travelers.

This is a real hotspot for tourists. 

2. Jones Run Falls

If you’re looking for grand falls to gaze upon at the end of a great adventure, then you’ll want to visit Jones Run Falls.

After going through a picturesque stream and unique flora, you’ll end up by a stunning 42-foot waterfall

Despite a slightly challenging incline, even youngsters can hike and boulder here.

You can even have your dog tag along as long as they are leashed and stay within six feet of you at all times.

It definitely has one of the more “workout” feeling trails, but it’s simple enough to follow and the view is totally worth it. 

According to the National Park Service, Jones Run Falls takes up to three hours to complete.

It’s also worth noting that the trail doesn’t meet ADA accessibility guidelines.

Persons with disabilities may have to avoid this one and visit one of the other gorgeous falls instead. 

3. Doyles River Falls

If Zion National Park is the star of the road trip out West, then Shenandoah could be the highlight in the East.

You’ll find this claim particularly true when you see Doyles River Falls.

There are actually two falls here that you can see, and to call it magical could even be an understatement.

Once you get to the end, you’ll also find access to a swimming hole where you can cool off after your two-hour trek.

Although the area gets very dry during the hot season, Doyles River Falls doesn’t suffer from the same issues that other falls have where the flow of water can look underwhelming. 

There’s just something about crossing a stream to get to your destination that adds to the otherworldly appeal of this waterfall.

It also doesn’t hurt that a study published in Frontiers in Neurology found that exposure to waterfalls and forest environments has been proven to help with anxiety, chronic stress, and even depression.

If you ever wanted to get away from the stresses of life, this would be the place to run off to. 

4. Hazel Falls

They say don’t go chasing waterfalls unless, of course, that waterfall happens to be as tantalizing as Hazel Falls.

This is a real hidden gem that doesn’t take too long to finish!

There are magnificent cascades that you can reach and even walk behind, particularly if you go by the hanging rockface. 

It’s also alternatively referred to as Cave Falls.

You’ll find some shallow caves by the falls that you can actually enter as well.

They are pretty safe to explore, though you should expect to see some critters dwelling within.

These are the types of caves and amazing views that rival the likes of the fascinating Wind Cave National Park

Some parts of the hike across Hazel Falls can be irregular.

It’s best to trek with care even when the trail feels easy enough to traverse.

Whether you are descending or ascending by the falls, it’s the tail end that can get tricky.

It’s worth the effort, though, especially when you see the sun streaming over the falls. 

Where To Stay When Visiting Shenandoah National Park

If you want to stay inside Shenandoah National Park, there are several campgrounds to choose from.

Each one is open at different times throughout the year.

There are also several hotel and cabin lodging options within the park.

✅ Skyland

Skyland is made up of over 28 separate buildings from traditional hotel rooms to detached cabins.

It’s spread out over 27 acres throughout Shenandoah National Park.

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✅ Big Meadows Lodge

Big Meadows Lodge is similar to Skyland in that there are traditional hotel rooms and detached cabins.

The difference is that this one is set up more like Zion Lodge where all of the cabins and rooms are within walking distance of the main lodge building.

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Shenandoah National Park

Frequently Asked Questions About Shenandoah National Park

These are the most frequently asked questions we get about visiting Shenandoah National Park.

☑️ What Is The Most Popular Waterfall In Shenandoah National Park?

The most popular waterfall in Shenandoah National Park is Dark Hollow Falls.

It is a 70-foot waterfall that is located about 1.4 miles from the parking area at milepost 50.7 on Skyline Drive.

The hike to the falls is moderate and includes a steep climb, but the views from the top are worth it.

☑️ How Many Waterfalls Are In Shenandoah National Park?

There are over a dozen waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.

The majority of them are accessible via Skyline Drive, which runs the length of the park.

☑️ What Is The Closest Waterfall To Skyline Drive?

The closest waterfall to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park is Dark Hollow Falls.

It’s located at milepost 50.7 and is a 1.4-mile (2.3 km) round-trip hike.

The hike to Dark Hollow Falls is moderate and includes a steep climb, but the views from the top are worth it.

The waterfall is 70 feet (21 m) tall and cascades over a series of rocks.

The Dark Hollow Falls Trail is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring or fall.

During this time, the water levels are high and the leaves are changing color.

Please note that dogs are not allowed on the Dark Hollow Falls Trail.

Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park

☑️ Can You Swim In The Waterfalls At Shenandoah National Park?

Swimming is not allowed in any of the waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.

The park service has a number of reasons for this, including, swimming can be dangerous, especially in areas with strong currents or slippery rocks.

Swimming can damage the natural environment.

Swimming can attract large crowds, which can impact the park’s resources and wildlife.

If you are looking for a place to swim in Shenandoah National Park, there are a number of swimming holes located along the park’s rivers and streams.

These swimming holes are typically located away from the waterfalls and are much safer for swimming.

Here are a few of the best swimming holes in Shenandoah National Park:

Whiteoak Canyon Swimming Hole

This swimming hole is located at the end of the Whiteoak Canyon Trail and is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Doyles River Swimming Hole

This swimming hole is located off of the Doyles River Trail and is a great place to cool off on a hot day.

Rose River Swimming Hole

This swimming hole is located off of the Rose River Trail and is a secluded spot for swimming and relaxing.

Please note that swimming in the park’s rivers and streams is at your own risk.

The park service does not monitor the water quality of these areas and there is always the potential for hazards such as strong currents, slippery rocks, and wildlife.

Shenandoah National Park

Conclusion: Stunning Waterfalls In Shenandoah National Park

There are over a dozen stunning waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park, but the ones listed above are the ones most worth visiting, especially if you’re short on time.