Shenandoah National Park celebrates wilderness
Shenandoah National Park will honor America’s Wilderness heritage during its 17th annual Wilderness Weekend, September 9 and 10, 2017. Celebrate Wilderness by viewing Shenandoah’s Wilderness from Skyline Drive, hiking a Wilderness trail, joining a ranger program, learning how to use traditional tools for Wilderness trail maintenance, completing the Ranger Explorer Wilderness Activity Guide, watching a movie about Wilderness or exploring a visitor center exhibit.
Special events will take place throughout the weekend. At the Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 on Skyline Drive), there will be a traditional tool display and demonstration from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. Shenandoah National Park’s Trail Crew will share their expertise regarding the use of traditional tools in maintaining trails in Wilderness areas. Visitors will be able to try their hands at using these tools and will gain insight into the important role trail maintenance plays in protecting Wilderness for future generations. Rangers will also be on site to help explore the history and significance of Shenandoah’s Wilderness through exhibits and hands-on activities for children. A film, American Values: American Wilderness, narrated by Christopher Reeve, explores Wilderness across the United States. The movie will be shown at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. in the Byrd Visitor Center auditorium each day.
There will be a four-mile ranger-led hike to Rose River, exploring the unique beauty and the benefits of one of Shenandoah’s Wilderness trails. The Rose River hike is on Saturday, September 9 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Meet the ranger at Fisher’s Gap Overlook, mile 49.3, at 9:00 a.m. Please bring water, a snack and wear appropriate footwear.
There will be a one hour Search and Rescue Dog Seminar provided by Dogs East on Saturday, September 9 from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. The presentation will be held at the Big Meadows Amphitheater in the picnic grounds (mile 51). Learn and observe how these dogs play a critical role in search and rescue operations.
At Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6), join Rangers for activities on the terrace from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Ranger Explorers (ages 13 and up) are invited to explore Wilderness using the Ranger Explorer Wilderness Activity Guide, “The Wild Side of Shenandoah.” This activity guide, part of an advanced Junior Ranger book series, leads visitors through seven activities that explore the meaning and significance of Shenandoah’s Wilderness. One activity puts the participant in the role of a Wilderness ranger who has to decide how to protect Wilderness values while keeping trails open and safe for hikers. Activity guides are available free of charge at the Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51) and the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6). Participants who complete the seven activities will earn a Wilderness patch.
Visitors are encouraged to stop by Park visitor centers for more opportunities to learn about Shenandoah’s Wilderness through exhibits. The interactive exhibit at Byrd Visitor Center, “Within a Day’s Drive of Millions,” tells the story of Shenandoah’s establishment, including the significance of Wilderness designation. At the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, visitors can explore the interactive exhibit that provides an excellent orientation to Shenandoah, including a look at Wilderness in Shenandoah.
Shenandoah’s Wilderness was designated by Congress on October 20, 1976. Forty percent of the park, almost 80,000 acres, is Wilderness and represents one of the largest Wilderness areas in the eastern United States. Areas preserved as Wilderness provide sanctuaries for human recreation, habitat for wildlife, sites for research, and reservoirs for clean, free-flowing water. Wilderness areas have been designated on public land across the United States. Today more than 109 million acres of public land are protected in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
There is a $25-per-vehicle entrance fee to Shenandoah National Park which is good for seven days. For more information on Wilderness Weekend and a complete schedule of events, visit the Park’s website at https://www.nps.gov/shen/