Free Entrance to National Parks Monday


Old Rag as seen from Skyline Drive.

This Monday, January 16, is fee free day at all of America’s 400 national parks. In my neck of the woods that includes Shenandoah National Park. For other locations, check Many will have the day off to celebrate the Martin Luther King holiday so can escape to one of our national jewels.

For those interested in accessing Shenandoah National Park, there are a few alerts and notifications in place.

Whiteoak Canyon and Old Rag can be accessed from the Park’s boundary off Route 600. At each of these boundary trail accesses there are Shenandoah National Park-managed parking lots (for about 90 vehicles at Whiteoak and about 265 at Old Rag). Parking in these lots is free. You are required to purchase an entrance permit. Landowners with property adjacent to the Park are charging a fee for parking on their property near both of these areas. Paying a private citizen to park does not affect the entrance fee. Be sure to check the Shenandoah lot for availability before paying to park.

ROCKY MTN FIRE 2016 (April 19, 2016, latest update May 4)
All closures associated with this fire have been lifted.

Backcountry Camping Advisory for Areas burned by Rocky Mtn. (South District) Fire
Backountry camping in the burned-over area is permitted but requires special caution. Burned areas may result in fire-damaged trees, hanging limbs, unsure footing, and in some places charred material and ash. Although camping in designated Wilderness areas routinely involves some risk, please take extra effort in scouting potential campsites for new hazards created by the fire. Also be sure to follow routine park requirements in determining where to camp.

The burned area is the entire section North of the Big Run Portal Trail and Eppert Hollow, West of Skyline Drive and South of Gap Run Watershed/Beldor Fire Road.

Virginia VDOT recently closed a section of Route 614 to vehicles due to a road washout. This closure prohibits vehicle access to the road past the Charlottesville Reservoir parking area (outside the Park’s boundary) used by hikers and horse enthusiasts to reach the North and South Forks of Moormans River in Shenandoah. The vehicle restriction does not prohibit hikers or horses from using the corridor up to the Park boundary. Please note that no overnight parking is allowed at the reservoir. In addition, if there are vehicles parked there during the day, there my not be space to turn around with a horse trailer.

Skyline Drive overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.

In order to better protect the fragile plants that live on some of Shenandoah’s rock outcrops, the park has implemented some very limited closures. Small areas of Little Stony Man, Hawksbill, and Old Rag are closed to public access. Areas on Old Rag, Little Stony Man, Hawksbill, Old Rag, Mary’s Rock, Mount Marshall, and Overall Run are closed to backcountry camping. If you planning a hiking trip and/or a backcountry overnight trip to one of those areas, please check the following maps for new closures.

Printable maps with closures:
Little Stony Man


Old Rag

Mary’s Rock

Mount Marshall

Overall Run

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PARKWIDE (8-28-14)
Use caution when hiking or backcountry camping. Be sure to look up when choosing a campsite and be aware of hanging snags that may fall.

(at park boundary)
Hikers entering the Pocosin Hollow area from the boundary (Greene County) are encouraged to use Virginia Route 643 and the Entry Run Trail to access Pocosin area trails. Parking is very limited and access to the park in this area is through private property, so please stay on the trail.

The recommended access to Pocosin area trails is via Skyline Drive from the parking area at mile 59.5.

Shenandoah National Park 8

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

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