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Shenandoah National Park reopening facilities for Spring

Sally Hurlbert with SNP says, now is a great time to visit, because it’s definitely starting to look like Spring.
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 6:18 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Shenandoah National Park (SNP) is getting ready to welcome back more visitors. After months of being closed for the Winter, park facilities have started reopening this week.

Sally Hurlbert with SNP says, now is a great time to visit, because it’s definitely starting to look like Spring.

“One thing that’s wonderful about springtime are our wild flowers,” Hurlbert said. “They’re just beautiful to see them emerging from underneath all of the fallen leaves, and they’re colorful, some of them have nice scents and it’s just a real treat so I definitely recommend coming up and taking a hike.”

According to SNP, Springtime in the park is very pleasant. The temperatures get warm, but it is not as hot and humid as it gets during the summer. Because of this, there are also less bugs.

This week, the park’s two visitor centers reopened. This weekend, Saturday, March 27, campgrounds, picnic area and cabins will begin to open as well.

Hurlbert wants to remind everyone, this time of year it’s important for visitors to keep and eye out for those who live in the park.

“Springtime is when the baby animals are born, and so there’s going to be a lot more activity of the little ones out in the forest and also along Skyline Drive,” Hurlbert said. “Our biggest recommendation is just to make sure you drive the speed limit. There could be a family of turkeys with all their young, or a baby fawn or a baby cub.”

When planning your Spring visit, be sure to go over all of the park’s rules and safety tips, and check the forecast before your trip.

Hurlbert says this season is also fire season for SNP. She reminds, when camping in the park, you are only permitted to have a fire in the provided metal grates. When camping outside of the sites, no fires are permitted. SNP says due to the fallen leaves on the ground, the risk of fire spreading fast is high, especially if it is a windy day. Hurlbert says two of it’s biggest wildfires it has had in the past, have occurred in the month of April.

Regarding COVID-19, Hurlbert says, mask and social distancing are a must. In the facilities, they are required, and while out on trails, masks are required when you are close to other hikers.

According to Hurlbert, preparing for your visit is crucial. She says you should pack food and water, PPE, and wear proper clothes and shoes. While the temperatures rise in the valley, Hurlbert says the park is at a higher elevation so it is about ten degrees cooler. She says you should wear, or pack, layers, and sneakers or hiking boots are needed.

The full reopening schedule of facilities provided by SNP:

Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6 Skyline Drive)

  • Open Fridays through Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays), No indoor exhibits or films. Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 Skyline Drive)
  • Open 7 days a week, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., No indoor exhibits or films.

Campgrounds will open on the following schedule:

  • March 25: Lewis Mountain Campground (mile 57.5)
  • March 26: Big Meadows Campground (mile 51.2)
  • May 5: Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.2), Loft Mountain Campground (mile 79.5), and Dundo Group Campground (mile 83.7)

Picnic Grounds will open on the following schedule:

  • March 25: Lewis Mountain Picnic Grounds (mile 57.5)
  • March 26: Big Meadows Picnic Grounds (mile 51.2)
  • Open year round: Dickey Ridge Picnic Grounds (mile 4.7), Elkwallow Picnic Grounds (mile 24.1), Pinnacles Picnic Grounds (mile 36.7), South River Picnic Grounds (mile 62.8), and Dundo Picnic Grounds (mile 83.7)

The restaurants, lodges, and associated facilities operated by the park concessioner, Delaware North, will open as follows:

  • March 25: Lewis Mountain Cabins and Campstore (mile 57.5)
  • March 26: Skyland Resort (mile 41.7 and 42.5)
  • March 26: Big Meadows Wayside (mile 51.2)
  • April 1: Elkwallow Wayside (mile 24.0)
  • April 23: Big Meadows Lodge (mile 51.2)
  • April 23: Loft Mountain Wayside (mile 79.5)
  • May 5: Loft Mountain Campstore (mile 79.5)
  • May 28: Skyland Stables (mile 42.5) and

For more information about planning a trip to Shenandoah National Park, please visit our website at http://www.nps.gov/shen or call the park at (540) 999-3500.

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