Letter from Susan Sherman, SNPT Executive Director

 

Dear Shenandoah National Park friends, advocates, and allies,

Here at the Shenandoah National Park Trust, we’re in the protection business. We want what’s best for Shenandoah National Park’s wildlife and wild lands as well as its employees and surrounding communities. We are also thinking about you and how you are faring during these trying times. 

Operations at Shenandoah National Park are changing from day to day. The best way to stay up-to-date is by accessing Park Alerts on the SNP website.  If you do choose to visit Shenandoah,  we encourage you to follow the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and your state health department’s guidelines when it comes to protecting yourself and others to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). We also urge you to be sensitive to gateway and rural communities surrounding the park that have limited access to medical care, in light of the current public health issues surrounding the spread of COVID-19

The Trust team is working remotely as we continue our work to support the park. We’ll keep you updated on our social media channels, as well as provide you resources such as: 

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK – HIKING ALERTS & CLOSURES

NPS PUBLIC HEALTH UPDATE – CORONAVIRUS 

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TO TEMPORARILY SUSPEND PARK ENTRANCE FEES 

 

Here are a few ways you can continue to be a part of the Trust family over the coming weeks and months:

– Write postcards to your local Park Rangers who need your support more than ever. Please address your envelope to:

Sally Hurlbert, Shenandoah National Park, 3655 US Highway 211 East, Luray, VA 22835.

– Support the work of the Shenandoah National Park Trust. We are still moving forward!

– Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates

– Keep informed on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and park updates on our Blog

We appreciate you always being there for the Shenandoah National Park Trust. And we know we can count on you to support the park through these uncertain times. This is when we get to choose how to act. So let us choose to stick together for public lands and our community.

Please continue to support the projects and people of Shenandoah National Park by donating here.

We’re always exploring ways to support community and our Shenandoah. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with your concerns, ideas and support: info@snptrust.org

 

Moving Forward Together,

Susan Sherman

Executive Director

 

 

Park Updates

The Coronavirus is evolving in an unprecedented manner and affecting SNP in complex ways. Here’s the current situation: 

5/13 Update: 

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK IS CLOSED.

This is a complete closure! No hiking, no biking, no entry from the boundary, no access to Skyline Drive. All trails in Shenandoah are closed, including the Appalachian Trail.

4/8 Update: 

Official NPS Press Release from Shenandoah National Park:

Luray, Virginia – The National Park Service (NPS) received a letter from the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District of the Virginia Department of Health recommending the full closure of Shenandoah National Park. Upon receiving this request from the health department, Superintendent Jennifer Flynn, with the support of the NPS Deputy Director, Operations, David Vela and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, made the decision to immediately close the park until further notice.

Virginia State Highways 211 and 33 will remain accessible to pass-through.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is our number one priority. The NPS is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. The park will notify the public when it resumes full operations and provide updates on the park website  https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/alerts.htm and social media channels.

 

4/6 Update: 

(Taken from the Shenandoah National Park website)

Shenandoah National Park, in response to guidance from Virginia Department of Health, is announcing additional modifications to operations which support federal, state, local and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) efforts to promote social distancing and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  Decisions on modifications to park operations are being re-evaluated regularly by park management.

As of April 4, 2020, Shenandoah National Park will offer very limited services outside those that support visitor or resource protection. At Shenandoah National Park, the following services and operations will be suspended in order to comply with the state health guidance:

  • Shenandoah National Park will be closed to all access from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. daily.
  • Skyline Drive is closed to motorized vehicles from mile 0 at Front Royal to mile 65.5 at Route 33 east of Elkton and west of Stanardsville (Swift Run Entrance).
  • All picnic grounds are closed.

Outdoor spaces at Shenandoah National Park remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest federal, state, and local public health guidance.

  • Skyline Drive will be open to motorized vehicles from mile 65.5 (Swift Run Entrance) to mile 105 (Rockfish Gap Entrance), daily from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The approximately 40 mile stretch of Skyline Drive from Swift Run to Rockfish Gap is the only portion of the Drive open to motorized vehicles. Motorists need to exit by 8:00 p.m.
  • Skyline Drive will be open to pedestrians, bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles from mile 0 at Front Royal to mile 65.5 (Swift Run Entrance), daily from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Visitors need to exit by 8:00 p.m.

Most trails in the park will be open, daily from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Please review boundary trailhead, state route, and trail closures on our website before coming to the Park: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/alerts.htm and practice social distancing as recommended by the CDC.

Previous Closures Remain in Effect:

  • All boundary trailheads in Rappahannock and Page Counties are closed. Visitors are urged to hike from Skyline Drive. Check our website or social media channels (listed below) for details.
  • Old Rag and the Whiteoak-Cedar Run loops and associated trails are closed.
  • Routes 670 and 648 in Madison County leading to boundary trailheads for Rose River and Dark Hollow are closed.
  • All facilities, including bathrooms,are closed.
  • There is no camping. Campgrounds are closed, and the backcountry is closed to overnight use.
  • Albemarle County, the city of Charlottesville, and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority have closed the recreational area around Sugar Hollow Reservoir which also prevents access to the Moormans River Trails from that location.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Shenandoah National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/alerts.htm and social media channels https://www.facebook.com/shenandoahnps/https://twitter.com/ShenandoahNPS, and https://www.instagram.com/shenandoahnps/.

If contemplating a visit to a national park during this pandemic, the NPS asks visitors to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safer and healthier.

3/30 Update: 

There are no open facilities in the park at this time.

The concessioner, Delaware North plans to open facilities according to the following updated schedule:

 

Lewis Mountain Cabins and Campstore

  • Closed by Delaware North on March 29, 2020.

Big Meadow Wayside

  • Closed by Delaware North on March 29. 2020.

Elkwallow Wayside

  • Opening scheduled for April 3, 2020 TBD

Skyland Lodge

  • Scheduled to open April 3, 2020. Delayed by Delaware North until May 21, 2020

Skyland Stables

  • Scheduled to open April 10, 2020. Delayed by Delaware North until May 21, 2020

Loft Mountain Wayside

  • Scheduled to open April 10, 2020. TBD

Big Meadows Lodge

  • Scheduled to open May 1, 2020. Delayed by Delaware North until May 21, 2020.

Loft Mountain Camp Store and Showers

  • Scheduled to open on May 6, 2020

Additional boundary trailhead access closures in Madison County: Madison County officials are closing Routes 670 and 648 leading to the boundary trailheads for Rose River and Dark Hollow.

Additional boundary trailhead access closures in Rappahannock County: Rappahannock County officials are closing Mount Marshall Road (625) that leads to Mount Marshall Trailhead and Old Hollow Road (Route 612) that leads to Thornton River Trailhead.

3/26 Update: 

  • Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and most trails are open.
  • All restrooms are closed.
  • The backcountry is closed to overnight camping through April 30. There is no overnight camping in the park at this time.
  • Appalachian Trail huts, shelters, and cabins are closed.
  • The Old Rag and Whiteoak-Cedar Run circuit hikes are closed. For a map of the specifics of these closures see yesterday’s update.
  • Albemarle County, the City of Charlottesville, and the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority have closed the recreational area around Sugar Hollow Reservoir.
  • Lewis Mountain Cabins and Campstore will open today.
  • Big Meadows Wayside will open tomorrow with operational restrictions: No prepared food, dining room is closed, no more than 10 people may be inside at a time.
  • All other facilities are closed including visitor centers.
  • For tentative opening dates for other facilities click here: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Shenandoah National Park, in response to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health, is announcing additional modifications to operations to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

3/25 Update: 

The following trails will be closed:

  • The Old Rag and Whiteoak Canyon-Cedar Run circuit hikes are closed in response to an increased risk to visitors and staff due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). These are two of the most popular hikes in the park and they have recently become overwhelmed with visitors. Visitors have been unable to practice the social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC because of the multiple congestion points along the trails at rock scrambles, waterfall viewpoints and the summit of Old Rag. The park also cannot assure that visitors are able to meet the CDC’s hand sanitation guidance in these remote locations.
  • The Madison County Sheriff’s Office has closed Nethers Road (Route 600) and Weakley Hollow Road (Route 600) leading to the trailheads for these hikes at the park boundary. These road closures will remain in effect indefinitely.
  • Please refer to the maps to see the details of which trails, parking areas and roads are closed. Signs are posted at all trailheads and trail intersections to inform visitors of the closures.

 

3/24 Update:

At this time A.T. huts and cabins in Shenandoah National Park are closed.

A message from Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s President and CEO, Sandra Marra: 

“In these unprecedented times, I am making an unprecedented request: please stay away from the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Whether your hike is for a couple of hours or a couple of days, staying away from the Trail minimizes the spread or contraction of COVID-19.” 

Read More from ATC

 

3/23 Update: 

Trail Closures: Old Rag Mountain and Whiteoak Canyon trails, 

Road Closures: the boundary access roads, Nethers Road and Weakley Hollow Road, 

These are closed by authority of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Only local residents will be able to access these roads.

Skyline Drive and other park trails are open.

 

 

HEALTH GUIDANCE

CORONAVIRUS WEBSITE – CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

CORONAVIRUS DISEASE SITUATION REPORTS – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH