Shenandoah National Park celebrates wilderness

Shenandoah National Park will honor America’s wilderness heritage this Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 12-13) during its 15th annual Wilderness Weekend. Visitors can help commemorate the 39th anniversary of Shenandoah’s Wilderness designation by viewing it from Skyline Drive, hiking a trail, joining a ranger program, learning how to use traditional tools, completing the Ranger Explorer Wilderness Activity Guide, watching a movie about wilderness or exploring a visitor center exhibit.

Events are planned throughout the weekend. At the Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51 on Skyline Drive), there’s a traditional tool display and demonstration from 9 to 4 each day. Shenandoah National Park Trail Crew will share their expertise in how traditional tools are used to maintain trails in wilderness areas, and you can try your hand at using them.

Rangers will be available to help explore the history and significance of Shenandoah’s Wilderness through exhibits and hands-on activities for children. The film, “American Values: American Wilderness,” narrated by Christopher Reeve, explores wilderness across the United States screens at Byrd Visitor Center at 11 and 4 p.m. each day.

A four-mile ranger-led hike to Rose River is 9 to 1 Saturday; it meets at Fisher’s Gap Overlook (mile 49.3) at 9 a.m. (Bring water and a snack and wear appropriate footwear.)

Ranger Explorers (ages 13 and older) are invited to complete the activities in the Ranger Explorer Wilderness Activity Guide, “The Wild Side of Shenandoah.” This guide, part of an advanced Junior Ranger book series, leads visitors through seven activities that explore the meaning and significance of Shenandoah’s Wilderness. Activity guides are free and available at the Byrd and Dickey Ridge visitor centers. Participants who complete the seven activities earn a wilderness patch.

The interactive exhibit at Byrd Visitor Center, “Within a Day’s Drive of Millions,” tells the story of Shenandoah’s establishment, including the significance of the wilderness designation. Experience the interactive wilderness exhibit at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center.

Shenandoah’s Wilderness was designated by Congress on Oct. 20, 1976. Forty percent of the park, almost 80,000 acres, is wilderness and represents one of the largest wilderness areas in the eastern United States. Wilderness provides sanctuaries for human recreation, habitat for wildlife, sites for research and reservoirs for clean, free-flowing water. Today more than 109 million acres of public land are protected in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

For more information on Wilderness Weekend, contact Shenandoah National Park at 540-999-3500 or visit

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