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Shenandoah National Park suggests pre-planning visits in October

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 8:05 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - October is when Shenandoah National Park sees about 25 percent of its visitors for the entire year, according to park officials.

In 2020, Claire Comer, a public information officer with SNP, said the park has seen a 10 percent increase in visitors, which she said was notable considering the park closed for six weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SNP has some advice for fall visitors to avoid some crowded locations and get the most out of their trip.

Comer said visitors can now purchase passes ahead of time online. She suggests doing this to reduce congestion at popular entrances to the park.

“At our two busiest entrances, which are Front Royal and Thorton Gap off Rt. 211, those entrances will have pass lanes,” Comer said. “If you purchase your pass ahead of time then you can get in that fast lane to get through. We’re hoping that will help alleviate crowds at those entrances.”

She also suggests visitors use southern park entrances where trails are less crowded and plan ahead.

“If you do a little preplanning and you plan a hike, then have a plan B. If you get to the parking lot and that parking lot is full, then the trail is going to be crowded, and that’s definitely not the experience you’re looking for.”

During October, Comer said SNP encourages visitors to avoid iconic fall hikes like Old Rag, White Oak Canyon, Dark Hollow Falls, Hawks Bill, and Stony Man, because of how crowded those areas are.

Campsites are also filling up fast.

Comer said reservable weekend camping spots are booked solid for the entire month of Oct. Some first-come-first-served weekend spots are available, but Comer said those usually fill up by Thurs. afternoons for the weekend.

Masks are required in all SNP visitor centers, gift shops, and lodging locations.

SNP posts updates on its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. SNP has also launched a new park app.

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