Especially since the park is centered along a 105-mile long road, the most practical way to get here is to drive. The park has 4 entrances: the Front Royal Entrance just off of US Route 340, the Thornton Gap Entrance just off of US Route 211 between Luray and Sperryville, the Swift Run Gap Entrance just off of US Route 33 between Elkton and Standardsville, and the Rockfish Gap Entrance at the intersection of Interstate 64 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. From Washington, it's best to go to the Front Royal entrance; take Interstate 66 west to Exit 13, then follow State Route 55 into Front Royal, then turn left on US Route 340.
Whenever I see an entrance gate to National Park in the USA my heart starts to beat stronger and faster. As I was going to visit a few more National Parks during my southern trip I bought annual pass to all US Parks which cost $50 (valid for one vehicle). I was asked to show my identity and to sign my credit card size pass and I got to know that transferring the pass to anybody was illegal. At the entrance gate I also got a very helpful brochure with a park map and I could check vacancy in park accommodations.
Check up-to-date entrance fees here ($10 in 2004 but $15 per vehicle in 2006 - valid for 7 days). Well, our national parks are free of charge (except one accesible only on foot) but US parks are worth that price for sure.
A car is a must if you want to get to Shenandoah National Park, the only option is probably a bus tour although I haven't seen any tour buses in the park.
The Shenandoah National Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western part of Virginia just southwest of Washington, D.C. and stretches east of I-81 over 100 miles from its northern entrance at Front Royal to its southern entrance near Waynesboro. There is only one road along the park, scenic road called Skyline Drive. There are four entrance gates to acces the park and Skyline Drive:
1. Front Royal accessible via I-66 and Route 340
2. Thornton Gap accessible via Route 211 (I entered the park here driving from Luray)
3. Swift Run Gap accessible via Route 33
4. Rockfish Gap accessible via I-64 and Route 250 (I left the park here).
Look at the maps here and here.
Mary's Rock Tunnel, at Mile 31 of Skyline Drive, is a 600-foot long tunnel with a 14-foot clearence that cuts through a ridge of Mary's Rock. The tunnel is one of the more interesting man-made sights in Shenandoah National Park. Tunnel Parking Overlook is at the south end of the tunnel; I did not stop there, but the pullout probably allows you to photograph the tunnel itself. This is one of the architectural achievements of Skyline Drive, which was built by the CCC in the 1930's; in 2006, Skyline Drive is celebrating the 75th annivesary of groundbreaking.
The Skyline Drive begins in Front Royal, VA near I-66. It continues down to Rockfish Gap where it becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is located near Waynesboro, VA. The total distance is about 107 miles.
The Skyline Drive intersects I-64, US 33, US 211, and US 340 (Connects to I-66). The Skyline Drive runs about 20 to 40 miles from I-81.