Shenandoah National Park celebrates wilderness
Today, more than 110 million acres are protected in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness designation provides enhanced protection of areas that are used as sanctuaries for human recreation, habitat for wildlife, and sites for scientific research.
This year commemorates the 42nd anniversary of Shenandoah’s wilderness designation. Forty percent of the park, or nearly 80,000 acres, is designated wilderness and represents one of the largest wilderness areas in the eastern United States. Come and join the celebration by viewing Shenandoah’s Wilderness from Skyline Drive, hiking a trail, joining a ranger program, learning how to use traditional tools, watching a movie about wilderness, or exploring visitor center exhibits. Special events will take place throughout the weekend.
At Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6 on Skyline Drive), a special activity table featuring backcountry travel and camping skills will be set up on Saturday, September 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Interpretive rangers will present several programs featuring wilderness topics throughout the weekend. Don’t forget to experience the interactive Wilderness exhibit at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center!
At Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 on Skyline Drive), there will be a traditional tool display and demonstration from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on both days. Shenandoah National Park Trail Crew will share their expertise in how traditional tools are used to maintain trails in wilderness areas. You can try your hand at using these tools! Wilderness patrol rangers will be setting up a “wilderness campsite,” and presenting short talks about wilderness skills. Interpretive rangers will be available to help you explore the history and significance of Shenandoah’s Wilderness through exhibits and hands-on activities for children. 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. A film, American Values: American Wilderness explores wilderness across the United States, and can be seen upon request in the Byrd Visitor Center auditorium.
Saturday at 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., the “Dogs East” organization will present a special demonstration by highly trained search and rescue dogs at the Big Meadows Amphitheater (mile 51 on Skyline Drive in the picnic grounds).
All events are free and no reservations are needed, however, there is a $30-per-vehicle entrance fee to Shenandoah National Park which is good for seven days or use a valid Annual or Lifetime Pass. For more information on Wilderness Weekend and a complete schedule of events, visit the Park’s website at https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/wilderness_weekend.htm.