Shenandoah Sketchbook

One hundred years ago today, August 25, 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed The Organic Act which created the US National Park Service within the Department of the Interior. There were 35 National Parks at that time, beginning with Yellowstone National Park, which was established on March 1, 1872 by Ulysses S. Grant “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

Stone and log fence


The National Park Service now includes 59 parks among more than 400 public areas that cover 84 million acres. The largest, Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska, has over 8 million acres. The smallest, Hot Springs, Arkansas has 6 thousand. California has the most National Parks, with nine. Virginia has just one.

Shenandoah Valley through the blinds

Watching the Olympics

On May 22, 1926, the 18th National Park was authorized and on the day after Christmas in 1935, FDR fully established Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Last week my soulmate, my sketchbook, and I paid a visit. 

The Appalachian Trail runs the entire length of the park, part of the 500 miles of hiking trails in the park. We hiked to the peaks overlooking Compton Gap and to one of the highest peak at Stony Man Point. We also tubed down the Shenandoah River. But my sketchbook only came out in two places: in our room at the Skyland Resort where we  viewed the Shenandoah Valley through our blinds and watched the Olympics, and in the bar where we drank and watched the US women’s water polo team defeat Hungary.

Most of the sketches are supplemented with photographs taken during our time in the park.

Exotic wildlife in its natural habitat

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