This satellite image of the park reflects this heritage. The park is a skinny long shape running roughly northeast to southwest from Front Royal to Waynesboro at Rockfish Gap (just off the edge of this image) roughly centered on the main ridgeline on which Skyline Drive runs. It is much wider than the mere 100-foot right-of-way, but retains the shape defined somewhat by the route of Skyline Drive. Numerous scenic-view turnoff spots on the road, built by the CCC, look down on the Shenandoah Valley to the west and across to Massanutten Mountain, or else eastward towards Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia. It is said that in the early years of the park, on a clear day it was possible to see the Washington Monument some one hundred or so miles away. In modern times, atmospheric smog and haze have robbed these views of some of their majestic breadth. Stands of trees in the park remain from when boreal forests retreated southward along the Appalachian ridgeline during the last major ice age, and now are gradually moving northward with global warming. Thus there are stands of trees more usually associated with southern Canada, such as stately hemlocks and balsam firs. The park appears as a deep rich green of forest contrasting with the lighter farmland in the valleys on either side, and the grey concrete of roads and city buildings. Much of the farmland still appears fallow in this late spring image as summer crops have not yet fully grown in.
This image was acquired by Landsat 7's Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+) sensor on May 24, 2002. This natural color composite image was created using the red, green, and blue wavelengths (ETM+ bands 3, 2, & 1).