Shenandoah National Park: Natural History Highlights

Shenandoah National Park, located 75 miles from downtown Washington, is a popular daytrip for D.C. residents, especially since we learned outdoor activities are less risky in a pandemic. Its more than 500 trails make it easy to understand why. The park’s landscape is dramatic, marked by jagged outcroppings and elevations up to 4,000 feet. It hosts a vast array of wildlife, including the world’s only population of Shenandoah salamanders, as well as an intricate network of forested streams. If you’re especially familiar with Shenandoah, what better way to advance your knowledge than by taking a crash course on its natural history? This week, the Smithsonian is offering park enthusiasts a chance to do just that. In a one hour and fifteen minute-long presentation, naturalist Keith Tomlinson will give an overview of the park’s past, from its geological origins to present-day conservation efforts. The event is a part of the Smithsonian Associates Streaming series, which also includes virtual tours and webcasts on topics like history and art. Expect to leave with a deeper understanding of Shenandoah and a greater appreciation for the eons-long process that shapes it today. The webcast begins at 10 a.m. on Jan. 16. Registration is available at smithsonianassociates.org. $25–$30.