Old Rag and Whiteoak Canyon to welcome back hikers starting tomorrow

Shenandoah gathering 6-8-20

A large group of picnickers at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park last weekend.

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Shenandoah National Park has decided to fully reopen beginning tomorrow and Friday.

The National Park Service (NPS), it says, is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning Thursday, June 11, Shenandoah National Park will reopen access to:  

  • The entire park will be open 24 hours a day.

  • The backcountry, including shelters and huts, will be open for overnight camping. Backcountry campers should be self-reliant and review camping regulations online or at kiosks to self-register their backcountry permits. Kiosks are located at: Entrance Stations, Loft Mountain Wayside, North and South entry points of the Appalachian Trail, and the Old Rag Trailhead parking area. Backcountry cabins will be available for weekend rental by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club at patc.net.

  • Campgrounds will open at 12 noon at a limited capacity to meet the Forward Virginia guidelines of a 20-foot separation between campsites to encourage distancing. There will be limited first come-first served sites at this time. No new reservations can be made but we will honor reservations previously made.

  • Old Rag and Whiteoak Canyon/Cedar Run circuit trails will reopen from both Skyline Drive and the boundary. Entrance fees will be collected at the boundary trailheads, unless you have a current pass, and parking will be limited to available parking spots in designated parking areas only. Vehicles parked along the roadside will be ticketed and towed.

  • Boundary trailheads will reopen. Vehicles parked illegally will be ticketed and towed.

  • Picnic Grounds will reopen at 12 noon. Dickey Ridge Picnic Grounds (mile 4.7) is currently closed and will reopen when construction activities are completed.

Beginning Friday, June 12, the Park will reopen access to:

  • The Park Store at Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51) will open. It will operate 5 days a week (Thursday through Monday) from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. A limited number of patrons will be allowed at one time and masks will be required.

Concession-operated services by Delaware North will open as follows, masks will be required:

  • June 11, 2020: Elkwallow Wayside (mile 24), Skyland Lodge (mile 41.7 or 42.5), Big Meadows Showers and Woodyard (mile 51), Lewis Mountain Cabins and Campstore (mile 57.2), Loft Mountain Campstore (mile 79.5)

  • June 25, 2020: Big Meadows Lodge

  • June 26, 2020: Loft Mountain Wayside

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

  • The picnic pavilion within Pinnacles Picnic Grounds (mile 36.6)

  • Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6) and the information desk and exhibit in Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51). Please download the park APP or print trail maps before visiting.

  • Massanutten Lodge and Rapidan Camp historic structures 

“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Shenandoah National Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers,” the park said in a statement.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Shenandoah says it will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.  

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