April 22, 2024

As spring gives way to milder temperatures, many folks spend more time on outdoor activities. In Warren County, residents and visitors alike flock to Shenandoah National Park. (SNP) This Saturday, entrance fees to SNP and all 400 national parks, will be waived.

Beginning Saturday, April 16, the presidentially proclaimed National Park Week 2022 kicks off, running through April 24. All national parks in the U.S. will waive entrance fees on Saturday and offer special programs, events and digital experiences throughout the week.

The view from atop Old Rag Mountain. (Photos courtesy of Shenandoah National Park)

This year’s National Park Week theme is “sPark Connections”. With over 400 national parks and National Park Service programs and partnerships in communities across America, there is something to pique everyone’s interest.

Those planning to hike SNP’s Old Rag Mountain, including hikers on the Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access trails, need to obtain an Old Rag day-use ticket in advance, as well as a park entrance pass. Because of severe crowding on the über-popular trail destination, the NPS implemented a pilot project, running from March 1 through November 30 of 2022 that requires hikers to obtain a $1 ticket in advance.

The project is “intended to improve the visitor experience and address public safety concerns, while also better protecting the rare ecological communities found on Old Rag,” a Shenandoah National Park news release stated.

SNP spokesperson Claire Comer said Park management will evaluate the results at the end of the pilot project and use the information to possibly adapt to a permanent system. She said the information gathered from the project will be shared with the public as well.

Hawksbill Mountain, the tallest summit in Shenandoah National Park.

A recent visitor-use and expectations study showed significant crowding and congestion at Old Rag, especially during certain times of the year. Most visitors participating in the study agreed that limiting visitors would improve their experience and safety, as well as better, protect the ecological communities found on Old Rag.

Hikers must purchase their tickets in advance at www.recreation.gov. Comer stated that tickets will NOT be available at the Old Rag fee station and noted that there is very little cell phone coverage in the area. Tickets may be purchased up to 30 days in advance and are valid for the day of arrival only.

A total of 800 tickets will be available for each day, with 400 released 30 days in advance and the remaining 400 released five days in advance. A day-use ticket does not guarantee a parking spot.

For more information on Shenandoah National Park or National Park Week 2022, visit National Park Week – NPS Celebrates! (U.S. National Park Service).

About The Author