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Shenandoah National Park looks to address overcrowding

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:18 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - Shenandoah National Park has been dealing with overcrowding over the past few years.

Shenandoah National park has been increasing in popularity over the last few years which has impacted visitor’s experiences within the park.

The month of October is the busiest month of the year for the park. “Last October, we saw a 53 percent increase in our October visitation over 2019 levels,” said park superintendent Patrick Kenney.

Shenandoah National park has seen a steady increase in visitors in the past few years but the pandemic only added on to the increase. “People I believe felt outdoor spaces like Shenandoah National Park are safe spaces so we’ve seen an increase... an additional increase,” said Kenney.

Old Rag, the most popular hike in the park, can get very crowded. “We could see up to 1800 people hiking that on a day... There are places up in the rock scramble with people backed up. We’ve had people waiting over an hour to get through some of those choke points on the trail,” said Kenney.

There now is a plan to limit some of that foot traffic. “What we would like to do is set a cap of 800 people a day, see how that works out,” Kenney said.

This will be a trial and error process and adjustments can be made as needed. Once the park is pleased with the results, the cap could be implemented permanently.

With the new restrictions, visitors would have to purchase a ticket online before visiting the park. Tickets are only expected to cost one or two dollars per person.

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