Park aiming to reward visitors

Shenandoah National Park is looking to reward its visitors during the Thanksgiving holiday and winter months.

The park announced that it will be keeping both the Byrd and Dickey Ridge visitor’s centers open on Thanksgiving as well as weekends during the winter.

“[We’re] just looking at how we can expand our services during what is typically considered the off-season,” said Debbie Smith, the park’s interpretive supervisor.

The park will also move its annual Black Friday sale up to Thanksgiving, with everything in the bookstore marked 10 percent off its regular price.

“We have typically [only] had facilities open as a three-seasons center,” Smith said.

In previous years, the park closed both centers for the winter due to the steep decline in visitors.

However, that changed last year when park opened the Byrd center on weekends and, according to Smith, that decision was a “great success.”

This year marks the first time the park will keep the Dickey Ridge center open during the winter months. According to Smith, the decision was largely an experimental one.

Smith said that keeping the centers open is an opportunity for local and out-of-town visitors to remain informed about the park as well as to take advantage of its scenic opportunities.

Smith noted that the park is still intent on keeping potential visitors entertained, despite the inevitable attendance declines.

“[The] winter season is really a great time to be in the park,” Smith said.

She said the adjusted winter services will only pertain to the Dickey Ridge and Byrd visitor’s centers. Services such as lodging, gas and food that normally close during the winter will do so after Nov. 30.

Last year, the park offered light snacks and hot beverages at the Byrd center. The park will continue to do that at both centers this year, according to Smith.

However, despite the light snacks being offered, Smith still encourages visitors to “come prepared” with plenty of food and gas for any day trips to the park.

“The park is always open for skiing, hiking and overviews … but Skyline Drive may close due to weather,” Smith said.

She noted that visitors should keep an eye on the park’s social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as call the park’s main telephone number for updates regarding weather reports and road closings.

There will be at least one employee available for contact at the park’s headquarters during the weekday hours, she said, and encouraged anyone with questions about the upcoming winter season to contact the park at 540-999-3500.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com