Shenandoah National Park celebrates wilderness

ShenandoahLogo_Outlined_Black_VerticalShenandoah National Park will honor America’s Wilderness heritage during its 16th annual Wilderness Weekend, September 10-11.

This year commemorates the 40thanniversary of Shenandoah’s Wilderness designation. Come 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.

Wilderness Weekend will begin with a kick-off event, Friday September 9th at 7:30 p.m.  Join a ranger as they explore Wilderness, its effects on society today and how we can take home some of those Wilderness values after our trip to Shenandoah. This program will take place at the Skyland Amphitheater, mile 42.5, and is scheduled to last 45 minutes.

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 onSaturday, September 10 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.

Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of hiking trails.  We encourage you to bring a map as you explore, but do you truly know how to read it?  Do you know how to use a compass?  Join a ranger to learn the basics of orienteering at these hands on seminars, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at the Byrd Visitor Center, mile 51.

A stove, a water filter, extra socks, flashlight, extra batteries, three gallons of water, a cell phone, shampoo and conditioner.  Should I take all this with me on my backpacking trip?  Join a Ranger to learn what the ten essential items are you should bring on your Wilderness experience.  This hands-on seminar will take place at the Byrd Visitor Center, Saturday from 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., mile 51.

Properly hanging your bear bag, securing your tent at night, keeping your boots on your feet…  What do they all have in common?  Knots!  Join a ranger to learn how to tie some simple knots that will come in handy while exploring Shenandoah’s Wilderness areas.  This hands-on seminar will be held Sunday from 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Byrd Visitor Center, mile 51.

There will be a one hour Search and Rescue Dog Seminar provided by Dogs East onSaturday, September 10from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  The presentation will be held at the Big Meadows Amphitheater in the picnic grounds, mile 51.  Come learn and observe how these dogs play a critical role in search and rescue operations.

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 highly 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 $20-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, contact Shenandoah National Park at540-999-3500. For more information about Shenandoah National Park and Wilderness, visit the Park’s website at