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Shenandoah National Park Announces Opening Dates


Falling water is commonplace in Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah National Park perhaps is best known for the Skyline Drive that wends along the spine of the Appalachians north to south through the park. But if you've ever taken the time to park your car and walk down a trail, you know that Shenandoah is rich with falling water.

I actually find that waterfalls are practically ubiquitous with Shenandoah, for as you hike downhill from Skyline Drive you follow the course of falling water. Just about every trail has a water feature of some kind to admire or, on a hot summer day, enjoy.

Why this talk now of waterfalls and hot summer days in Shenandoah? Well, even though the groundhog saw his shadow, and despite that ice storm that just blew through the Mid-Atlantic states, spring must be near, for Shenandoah officials have announced their opening schedule.

Yep, before too long the now-icy streams will be raging with snowmelt and the dogwoods will be blooming. And so it's understandable that Shenandoah Superintendent Chas Cartwright says facilities that have been closed during the winter season will begin opening in March and will continue to open through the spring.

Visitor Centers will be operated as follows: Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center and Dickey Ridge Visitor Center will open March 21; Loft Mountain Information Center will open on May 23, operating weekends and holidays only.

Campgrounds will operate on the following schedule: Big Meadows Campgrounds will open on March 21; Lewis Mountain Campground will open on April 11; Loft Mountain and Mathews Arm Campgrounds open on May 16.

Elkwallow, Pinnacles, and South River Picnic Grounds are currently open. The remaining picnic grounds will operate as follows: Dickey Ridge and Big Meadows Picnic Grounds will open March 21; Lewis Mountain Picnic Grounds will open April 11. Loft Mountain Picnic Ground will be closed for the season.

Concessioner-operated restaurants, lodges and associated facilities will operate as follows: Big Meadows Wayside will open March 15; Skyland Resort will open on March 20; Big Meadows Shower/Laundry will open on March 21; Lewis Mountain Cabins and Lewis Mountain Campstore will open on April 11; Elkwallow Wayside and Loft Mountain Wayside will open on April 18; Big Meadows Lodge will open on April 25; Loft Mountain Campstore and Loft Mountain Shower and Laundry will open on May 16.


Visitor Center openings are evidence of the erosion of purchasing power of NPS's operating funds-- in the 70's when I worked at SNP, the Harry Byrd VC was open year around. with steady visitation. The winter visitors, fewer in number than during the peak times, and of course wanting to warm up a bit, provided great opportunities for "teachable moments" beyond simply telling folks where the bathroom was...

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