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Shenandoah National Park Waterfalls | 10 Spectacular Falls You Must See!

There are so many spectacular Shenandoah National Park waterfalls, but here is a list of my top ten. The Shenandoah National Park is located in Virginia in the United States. It not only boasts awe-inspiring waterfalls, but also rocky peaks and outcrops, forested areas, and wetlands.

Waterfall at Shenandoah National park

Waterfalls have a special kind of magic and they’ve never failed to amaze me. For this trip, I wanted to scout the most spectacular Shenandoah National Park waterfalls. I wanted to immerse myself in their beauty.

Experience the inexplicable hush that falls when you submerge yourself under the falls. And feel the power of the never-ending cascade of water.

It was difficult to pinpoint just ten of the best waterfalls in the Shenandoah National Park. Below I have listed what I have found to be the most special and extraordinary waterfalls that grabbed my attention for various reasons.


An Important Note on Getting Around:

As soon as I started planning my trip, I started hearing and seeing the phrase “Skyline Drive” everywhere. It turned out to be pretty significant. Skyline Drive is the easiest way to get around the Shenandoah National Park. It is 105 miles long and runs between north and south along the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Rainbow road's during the Autumn season on Skyline Drive in Virginia

Skyline Drive is the easiest way of getting around the park and it is also the only public roadway in the park. On a good weather day, it will take you about three hours to drive the entire route. This drive is generally open 24/7 but may be closed due to weather, so it is best to check ahead.

The Mileposts

The most important thing to take note of on Skyline Drive is the mileposts. These posts are erected along the road and can help identify specific areas. The mileposts start at 0 at Front Royal and then end at 105 on the southern side of the park. Big Meadows is the biggest developed area in the park and it is located approximately halfway at milepost 51.

Throughout this article, I make reference to these mileposts where applicable. This will help future travelers easily locate the spots that will take them to the spectacular waterfalls.

The speed limit is fairly slow at 35 mph along most stretches of the road. It is a very beautiful drive and well worth the three hours. It will allow you to see a lot of the natural beauty of the park from the comfort of your vehicle.

I rented a car to make my way along Skyline Drive, and I was surprised at the number of animals! There are so many animals that live in Shenandoah Park that they frequently cross the road. Animals may also dart in front of your vehicle without warning, so be careful! If you look closely, you may see the elusive black bear, turkeys, deer, and other woodland animals.

Shenandoah National Park Waterfalls MAP

If you would like to add this map to your Google Maps account, click the ‘Star’ icon next to the map name. From there you can view the map on your phone or computer by going into your Google Maps account, just click on the menu and add it to “Your Places”.

Top 10 Shenandoah National Park Waterfalls:

1. Most Popular: Jones Run Falls

Jones Run Falls

There are a few of the Shenandoah waterfalls that are popular among locals and tourists alike. Jones Run Falls is one of them. It is located at milepost 84.1 along Skyline Drive. This means that you will have plenty of time to sightsee on your way there.

I could easily see why this was such a popular spot. The Jones Run waterfall itself is approximately 42 feet high and surrounded by vegetation. It is incredibly green and lush here with moss-covered rocks littering the site.

In order to visit these falls, you have to hike. The hike is of medium difficulty, crosses a stream, and you descend approximately 1045 feet. It is best to start your hike at the Doyles River Falls parking lot. By doing so, you won’t have a steep uphill climb at the end of the hike.

The best time to visit the Jones Run Falls would be in the fall. It is, of course, immensely beautiful when it is green and lush. However, I can see why fall is such a popular time as I myself experienced the leaves turning color. The autumn glow is magnificent when it winks at you in red and orange from every towering tree.

Pet Friendly: Yes
Length of Hike: 3.4-mile hike there and back/7.7-mile round trip


2. Easily Accessible: Dark Hollow Falls

Dark Hollow Falls

Some of the waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park are fairly difficult to get to. For the majority of the falls, you do have to hike a significant distance. Some of the hikes are very long and some are very strenuous. That is why I made it my mission to find one that is easily accessible to most people. And I discovered Dark Hollow Falls.

Dark Hollow Falls is close to the Big Meadows Campground and Lodge which is almost halfway along Skyline Drive. It is accessible from the 50.7-mile marker and it has an upper and a lower waterfall.

Although you do have to hike to Dark Hollow Falls, the hike is only 1.4 miles long. It is fairly easy going and it will be accessible to most people. The falls are also impressive at a height of 70 feet. There are plenty of rocks and flat spaces to sit, so you can relax and enjoy the natural beauty.

As it is one of the easier waterfalls to get to, it is also very popular. This means that you will find other people along the trail and at the waterfall. The waterfall is situated in a deep valley, which is very green and lush. It is one of the most beautiful places in the Shenandoah National Park.

I highly recommend Dark Hollow Falls to people who may not have as long to spend in the park. If you do the hike and take some time to soak your feet in the cool water, this trip will only take you one and a half hours to complete.

Pet Friendly: No
Length of Hike: 1.4-mile round trip


3. Shortest Hike: Lewis Falls

In keeping with our accessibility theme, the next waterfall on the list has an even shorter hike. This means that you won’t have to strain yourself to be able to see the cascading water. The hike is only 1 mile from the parking lot to the lookout point over the falls. However, if you are in the mood for a hike, there is a longer 4-hour circuit to take to these falls.


The lookout platform is fairly rocky and you will see the waterfall side-on. The water here drops an impressive 81 feet and you will see the waterfall and the valley below it. The accessibility of this waterfall means it is a popular spot as well.

I highly suggest packing a picnic lunch as you will want to stay and watch the water. There is a little cove that is perfect for a lunch break. You can sit here, relax, and just listen to the water crashing below.

A bonus point on this hike is that you can take your dog along. There are some of the hikes on this list that are not pet-friendly, but this one is for the entire family.

Pet Friendly: Yes
Length of Hike: 2-mile round trip/3.3-mile circuit

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4. Best Shenandoah National Park Waterfalls Hike: Whiteoak Canyon Falls

Lower Whiteoak Falls in Whiteoak Canyon of the Shenandoah National Park

The focus of this article may be the waterfalls, but in order to get to each one, there is usually a hike involved. The hikes vary from easy to challenging, and some are suitable for pets while others aren’t. I myself enjoy hiking and I found that some of the hikes were better for novices or those with children.

Whiteoak Canyon Falls has a moderate hike, but children are able to complete it. There are several families always on the trail, and pets are allowed as long as they are leashed! The Whiteoak Canyon Falls features a natural water slide as well as several swimming spots. There are pools and places to jump into the water. Children enjoy sliding down the rocks into the natural pools.

The hike to Whiteoak Canyon Falls is popular and that means that it is highly trafficked. There are always other people hiking, walking, and running along the trail.

I highly suggest packing a picnic and your swimming costume when doing this trail. You will be rewarded with a beautiful, forested waterfall at the end where you can swim and eat lunch. Summer rain does fall in this area, so be careful of wet and slippery rocks. The area is very rocky and it can be dangerous when either ascending or descending in wet conditions.

Pet Friendly: Yes
Length of Hike: 2.8-mile round trip


5. Best for Swimming: Cedar Run Falls

White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run trail loop waterfalls and cascades in Shenandoah National Park

These waterfalls are located at milepost 45.6, which is almost halfway along Skyline Drive. On my exploration of the Shenandoah National Park waterfalls, I found that swimming was a top priority. There are so many beautiful spots to sit and simply watch the falls and have a picnic. However, most people want to physically immerse themselves in the experience and go swimming.

The Cedar Run Falls hike is popular among those that want to swim. It is a beautiful hike and moderately difficult. This is one of the few trails in the park that follows the water. This means that you will see water and small waterfalls all along the trail itself. And, of course, you will be rewarded with the big waterfall at the end.

There are two good places to swim along the Cedar Falls hike. The first is a natural water slide and has a swimming hole. Many people choose to stop here. The second is a little more elusive. You will have to listen carefully to hear the sound of the water. Although the trail doesn’t lead directly to the falls, you can easily walk there by following the river.

At the second falls, there is a deep pool at the base of the falls where you can sit and relax. Many people simply choose to end their hike here. After a swim, they head back the way they came. However, if you do want to carry on, it is possible to continue on the trail. This trail connects to the Whiteoak Canyon Trail. This trail will then take you past six smaller additional waterfalls.

Pet Friendly: Yes
Length of Hike: a 3.2-mile round trip for only Cedar Run/8.2-mile round trip including Whiteoak Canyon Trail


6. Most Elusive: Naked Creek Falls

I spent a lot of time sitting around the popular and easily accessible waterfalls. It made my heart happy to experience so many of the spectacular Shenandoah National Park waterfalls. Most of them were easy to get to, easy to find, and in highly trafficked areas. Most of the trails are always a-buzz with chatter from other hikers. This is nice in its own way.

It is wonderful to see others enjoying the waterfalls as well. I enjoyed watching the pure joy on children’s faces as they slid down the natural water slides. I also petted and patted several tail-wagging pups on the way to some of the falls. However, there comes a time when you want a quieter environment. And the perfect tonic came in the form of the Naked Creek Falls.

The hike isn’t difficult, but the waterfall is elusive. It hides away behind a trail filled with fallen trees, an abundance of rocks, and overgrown bushes. The hike passes over rugged and difficult terrain. This means that this hike isn’t suitable for children or pets. And that is why it is so much quieter than the others. But the reward at the end is just as spectacular.

The Naked Creek Falls looks out over the Naked Creek valley and is pretty high up at 3250 feet in the backcountry of the Shenandoah National Park. I enjoyed it here and spent a significant amount of time reveling in the rugged natural beauty.

Pet Friendly: No
Length of Hike: 1.5-mile round trip


7. Highest Waterfall: Overall Run Falls

Overall Run waterfall is the highest waterfall in Virginia

The highest waterfall in the Shenandoah National Park is the Overall Run Falls. The hike to the waterfall starts at milepost 21.1 on Skyline Drive. This means that you won’t have far to drive to get there. And it is so beautiful once you do.

The waterfall is very high at 93 feet and the beautiful cascade of water flows through a thicket of the forest. Those who choose to do this hike will be rewarded by the natural beauty of the Shenandoah National Park and the impressive waterfall’s drop.

There are two routes to take when hiking to these falls. The first is shorter and features a lookout point. That means that you’ll be able to see the falls even if you can’t manage the full hike. The second part of the hike extends another one and a half miles. Just remember that there is a strenuous climb back up to the top if you do choose to do the second part of the trail to the bottom.

It is also a family-friendly hike and dogs are welcome, so make a day trip of it. The best time to visit this particular waterfall is during the fall or spring and especially after heavy rains. During the summer, this specific waterfall may run dry.

Pet Friendly: Yes
Length of Hike: 5.1 – 6.5-mile round trip

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8. Dual-Waterfall Beauty: Doyles River Falls

The lower section of Doyles River Falls in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia during the Spring.

The Doyles River Falls is fairly unique. In terms of the Shenandoah National Park waterfalls, they are a dual-waterfall. That means that there are two sets of falls here, which is unique in the park. The Upper Falls and the Lower Falls make up the entirety of the Doyles River Falls. I chose to visit both, but some people opt to only visit one.

The Upper Doyles River Falls is 28 feet high and the Lower Falls are 63 feet high. It is worth noting that the hike, even to just one of the two falls, is strenuous. The moderately difficult hike takes you on a 3.3-mile round trip, which is the shortest hike. This will take two to two and a half hours to complete.

I chose to do the longer route, which is a six-and-a-half-hour hike. It is strenuous but so worth it. The Lower Doyles River Falls are encased in high, rocky cliffs. It is so beautiful and peaceful there that it is worth sitting and simply taking in the scenery. If you choose to do the longer route, you will also pass by the Jones Run Falls.

Pet Friendly: Yes
Length of Hike: a 3.3-mile round trip for one of the two or a 7.7-mile round trip for both of the falls


9. Perfect for Photos: South River Falls


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Of all the Shenandoah National Park waterfalls, the South River Falls are a photographer’s dream. It is the third-highest of all the waterfalls in the park. It is a two-tiered waterfall with a unique rock-shelf feature. The hike to this waterfall is fairly easy and very beautiful, so do remember to pack your camera!

This waterfall is 83 feet high and spectacular from the viewing point. However, if you do want to venture further down to the base of the falls, you can. You can stand in a natural pool at the base of the falls and gaze up to the water cascading down. It is one of the most naturally stunning places for photos. I spent almost an hour there, simply taking photos.

The best time to hike to this particular waterfall is during the spring. Although this waterfall won’t run dry in the summer, spring is the better time of year to view it. Come springtime, this waterfall has such an impressive volume of water that the crash into the pool below is fairly spectacular.

Pet Friendly: Yes
Length of Hike: 2.6-mile round trip and another 1.3 miles to the base of the falls


10. Most Impressive: Rose River Falls

Flowing Water of the Rose River Waterfall in Shenandoah National Park

I was amazed and impressed by all of the waterfalls that I saw in the Shenandoah National Park, but I saved the best for last. The Rose River Falls was by far my favorite. I went just after the rainy season, and because of the abundance of water, these falls had four cascades. I simply sat in awe of the thundering water.

You do have quite a long hike ahead of you if you want to visit the Rose River Falls. It is a fairly strenuous hike, but well worth it. The waterfall at the end isn’t even the only reward! There are several small water features along the way, including several beautiful rapids. These flow for a few hundred yards’ lengths at a time and are beautiful to photograph.

The Rose River Falls is 67 feet high and situated almost halfway along Skyline Drive at milepost 49.4. It is one of the most spectacular waterfall series and will be beautiful regardless of the time of year.

One of the most impressive features of these falls is the swimming hole. This natural pool is located at the base of the falls and enclosed by impressive rock faces on three sides. This natural swimming pool is deep and cool and wonderful after a long day in the park.

Pet Friendly: Yes, but not if you are doing the Dark Hollow Falls in conjunction with Rose River
Length of Hike: 2.7-mile round trip


In Summary:

I truly enjoyed exploring the beauty and serenity of the Shenandoah National Park waterfalls. A waterfall is, at the same time, one of the loudest and also quietest features in nature. The crash and thunder of volumes of water cascading down do make a noise. But the serenity and peace you experience when standing in the face of one of nature’s most impressive features are second to none.

Now, it’s your turn, comment below and let us know if you have been to any of the Shenandoah National Park waterfalls? If not which one are you looking forward to seeing the most?

Thank you for reading!

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