Shenandoah National Park will be offering more services starting today as it continues its slow reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The entire park is now open 24 hours a day, a Wednesday news release states. Campgrounds will open at noon today with 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,” the news release states. “No new reservations can be made but we will honor reservations previously made.”
Additionally, starting today:
• 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.
• 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 noon. Dickey Ridge Picnic Grounds (mile 4.7) is closed and will reopen when construction activities are completed.
• Beginning Friday, the park will reopen access to the park store at Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51). It will operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week (Thursday through Monday.) A limited number of guests will be allowed in t a time and masks will be required.
Concession-operated services by Delaware North will open as follows, and masks will be required:
• Thursday: 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: Big Meadows Lodge
• June 26: 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). 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,” the release states. “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.”
A return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited, the park cautioned. Virtual tours are also available at nps.gov/shen/shen-love.htm.
Consult local area health orders at vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/prevention-tips, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities, the release says.
For more information, visit nps.gov/shen.