The bad news: Rappahannock residents have to drive everywhere, whether to go shopping or to visit friends. The good news: we live right next door to miles and miles of some of the best hiking and walking trails not only in the country but also the world.
Like the proverbial “elephant in the room,” however, the Shenandoah National Park’s presence looms so large in Rappahannock’s geographic identity that it’s often forgotten, or at the very least taken for granted. Of Rappahannock County’s 267 square miles, approximately one-fifth lie within the boundaries of the Park.
Ask yourself: When was the last time that you, Rappahannock resident, took advantage of this unique resource and natural wonder?
Now through Sunday, April 29, is an especially propitious time to get reacquainted with the Park or, for first timers, check it out. For in celebration of National Park Week,” the National Park Service has declared this period as “fee-free days.”
Normally, access to Shenandoah National Park can cost as much as $15. The entrance fee is well worth it, but “free” is even better, of course.
The National Park system will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary. The place-specific Shenandoah National Park is not quite that old but traces its conceptual roots at least as far back as President Herbert Hoover’s weekend fly-fishing trips on the upper Rapidan just south of here.
Just because the Park has been here a long time doesn’t mean it’s not a constant source of new discoveries for visitors. And on Skyline Drive, you don’t even have to get out of your car!
For more detailed information on the Park and its multitude of offerings, just visit the website www.nps.gov/shen. This being Rappahannock, you might have to drive somewhere to use your computer, but at least it will be a scenic drive.