The Best Overlooks, Sunrise, and Sunset Spots of Shenandoah


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As an avid traveler and nature enthusiast, my expeditions to Shenandoah National Park have been nothing short of spectacular adventures. Right in the heart of Virginia, this pristine wilderness is a haven for those seeking a soul-soothing retreat. 

Here, I’ll guide you through top places to see the beauty of Shenandoah. These spots offer great views, including stargazing and sunsets and/or sunrises.

Recommended: Best RV Parks and Campgrounds Near Blacksburg

Map courtesy of Wanderlog, an itinerary planner on iOS and Android

Buck Hollow Overlook

Neal Lewis,

The Buck Hollow Overlook offers a serene set amidst rolling hills and lush greenery. It’s also a haven for birdwatchers and top spot for watching the sunrise. 

The absence of light pollution makes it great for stargazing too. As you stand at the overlook, panoramic views of Shenandoah unfold before your eyes, creating a sense of awe and appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounds you. 

When I was navigating the trails around the overlook, I discovered an even more spectacular view of the Shenandoah. So be sure to look out for great views on the trails when you visit too!

Tunnel Parking Overlook

Neal Lewis,

The Tunnel Parking Overlook has great views and a rich history. The tunnel was constructed in 1932 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and took three months to complete. I couldn’t help but be captivated by the historical charm of the century-old tunnel. 

One piece of advice for fellow visitors: take your time exploring the overlook and reading the signs. It will deepen your insight into the construction and purpose of the tunnel, giving you a deeper appreciation of the park’s historical significance. 

Point Overlook

Point Overlook, with its expansive vista, is not only a visual feast but also a hotspot for wildflower enthusiasts and offers an uninterrupted view of Shenandoah’s rolling hills. During the spring and summer months, the hills come alive with a colorful array of native flowers, adding the overall charm. I enjoyed taking the short trail at the overlook and immersing myself in the colors and textures of the landscape.

For fellow enthusiasts, bring a camera to capture the canvas. Trust me, this spot is not just a hotspot for wildflower lovers; it’s a haven for anyone seeking a connection with the raw beauty of nature. The interplay of light and shadow on the landscape makes it a photographer’s paradise.

Hazel Mountain Overlook

National Park Service,

Beyond being a sunrise haven, Hazel Mountain Overlook is a prime location for nature meditation. Surrounded by the soothing sounds of nature, it provides the perfect escape for those seeking solitude amidst the vast wilderness of Shenandoah National Park. If you are looking for solitude, I recommend getting there early in the morning. 

The sunrise at Hazel Mountain Overlook is nothing short of magical, casting warm hues across the landscape and painting the sky with a palette of colors.    

Thorofare Mountain Overlook

Reaching the summit of Thorofare Mountain Overlook feels like you have conquered a personal milestone, and it is a prime location for bird of prey sightings. Hawks and eagles are frequently spotted soaring over the expansive landscapes, providing a thrilling experience for wildlife enthusiasts. During my visit, I was fortunate enough to witness eagles soaring through the sky.

If you want to see a great sunrise, then this is another perfect location since it’s the nearest sunrise to Skyland Resort

Skyline Drive

National Park Service,

No visit to Shenandoah is complete without driving Skyline Drive. The overlooks along this iconic route offer a series of postcard-worthy moments. Each stop gives you a chance to take in the landscape of the Shenandoah Valley from different angles.

Currently, there are 76 overlooks on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah, so I recommend taking your time when driving through. When I visited, I found the drive to be easy to navigate since there are signs and only a few roads that cross. If you are in the mood for hiking, then this drive also has trails that you can stop and hike on. 

Lewis Mountain Cabins

The Lewis Mountain Cabins are a cozy retreat in the wilderness. There are plenty of trails right near the cabins. They are also pet friendly, so you can even bring your furry friend to stay with you.

They’re located right along the Appalachian Scenic Trail and also right along Skyline Drive. Their central location makes them convenient to a lot of the other spots on this list.

Hawksbill Mountain

National Parks Gallery,

A hike up Hawksbill Mountain takes you to the highest peak in Shenandoah, so of course it’s great for sunrises and stargazing. The clear night skies at this elevation offer unparalleled views of constellations.

I’d recommend bringing a blanket or sleeping bag – it can get pretty cold at that high of an altitude, especially early in the morning and in the evenings.

Brown Mountain Overlook

National Parks Gallery,

As the seasons change, so does the color pallet of Brown Mountain Overlook. From vibrant fall hues to lush summer greens, this overlook offers a front-row seat to nature’s ever-changing canvas.

During my visit, I had the privilege of witnessing the transition from autumn’s fiery reds and oranges to the soothing greens of summer. 

Be sure to bring binoculars or a good camera. It’s a hotspot for wildlife, and you’ll often run into deer, black bears, and other animals.

Rockytop Overlook

National Parks Service,

True to its name, Rockytop Overlook boasts rugged terrain and dramatic rock formations. The unique landscape adds an adventurous twist to the journey, making it a must-visit for epic views.

It’s an opportunity to see the untamed and rugged side of Shenandoah’s wilderness while sitting on its classic stone wall. 

I’d recommend going there to watch the sunset since it is a west-facing view.

Bearfence Mountain

For the more adventurous souls who want more of a challenge, Bearfence Mountain offers a trail with some rock scrambling. It’s a chance to test your limits and be rewarded with vistas that make the journey worthwhile. The reward waiting for me was the Shenandoah Valley, Laurel Gap, Massanutten Mountain, Fork Mountain, and Bluff Mountain.

If you do this trail, my advice is to approach the rock scrambling with a deliberate pace. Take it step by step, ensuring each movement is secure before advancing. You’ll also need to make sure to pack sturdy footwear with a good grip. The terrain can be challenging, and reliable shoes make all the difference. 

Moormans River Overlook

National Parks Service,

Overlooking flowing water while on top of a field is Moormans River Overlook. This peaceful spot provides a moment of serenity, offering a different perspective of Shenandoah’s diverse landscape.

The gentle flow of the river is calming and gave me a chance to decompress, disconnect from modern life, and recharge my batteries.

Hemlock Springs Overlook

Nestled between Thornton Gap Entrance Station and Skyland is the Hemlock Springs Overlook. The remnants of hemlock trees make this a hidden gem within Shenandoah.

Hemlock Springs also serves as a gateway to hiking trails leading to lesser-known gems within the park, encouraging exploration beyond the well-trodden paths. 

Spitler Knoll Overlook

The Spitler Knoll Overlook is the last spot on this list to take in the mountain views. It’s also close to a trailhead for the Application Trail.

If you’re looking for the quickest way to reach the overlook, I recommend reaching it through the Thornton Gap entrance off Route 211 if you’re traveling from the north or the Swift Run Gap entrance off Route 33 if you’re traveling South.

The Bottom Line

Whether it’s Buck Hollow Overlook’s serene retreat, the Tunnel Parking Overlook’s historic charm, or the Bearfence Mountains’ adventurous twist, Shenandoah offers a tapestry of experiences for every nature lover. 

The park’s timeless allure is captured in these 14 locations, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking the wonders of the great outdoors. I promise you won’t regret it. 


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