Breathe in the Fresh Air of Shenandoah National Park
The best place to be this time of year is outside where the air is fresh and your body can reap the benefits of exercise. Studies have shown the smells of the outdoors are stress relievers, especially pine. Coupled with a hike, your body responds in positive ways like increased immunity and energy, and who couldn’t use more of both?
As a gateway to the southern district of Shenandoah National Park and the northern district of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Waynesboro is a great place to take a deep breath. A drive of just a few minutes puts you on course for spring explorations in the great outdoors.
Vibrant new foliage dances on an easy breeze as Virginia bluebells sway along on the forest floor. The dawn chorus rings through the trees, an ensemble of happy birds calling for a mate. Mothers proudly usher their young into a vast new world and seasonal rains fill the streams to rush and spill over waterfalls. This is spring in Shenandoah National Park and you are the only thing missing. Roll down the windows and let the air whip your hair as you maintain a relaxed pace through nature. It’s a fresh start for the park and for you.
Take A Hike On The Wild Side
Sturdy shoes and a good walking stick are handy for hiking, and we know of three great excursions near Waynesboro that should be on your radar.
Adventurous hikers who love a test of endurance will appreciate the 2,400-feet of elevation gain Turk Mountain has to offer. Set aside five hours to wrap up the 10.4-mile journey. (https://www.hikingupward.com/SNP/TurkMountain/)
A bit less climbing than Turk Mountain is Riprap Hollow at 2,225 feet. Time to hike is about the same but it’s nearly a mile shorter. Chimney Rock is the best look-out and the 20-foot waterfall is a pleasant surprise. (https://www.hikingupward.com/SNP/RiprapHollow/)
An easy trail for families with younger children is Blackrock Summit, a one-hour, one-mile hike. It’s a TRACK Trail for Kids, part of the Kids in Parks Program. Look for the TRACK Trails activity brochure at the trailhead. (https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/hikeblackrocksummit.htm)
Fresh Air Is Good For Families
Families who plan together form the best bonds, we think. Help your children explore by picking up a Junior Ranger Activity Book to learn about the native plants and animals, as well as the history of Shenandoah National Park.
Is there a fourth grader in your home? If so, be sure to check out EveryKidOutdoors.gov for a free pass into all federal parks, lands, and waters for a year. The whole family is included! (https://everykidoutdoors.gov/how.htm)
What You Need to Know
Mark your calendars with these key opening dates to help plan your ideal SNP experience.
Expect an entrance fee of $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle, or $15 on foot. The entry pass is valid for seven consecutive days. Consider purchasing the Shenandoah Annual Pass ($55) that lets you -- and your passengers -- visit SNP as many times as you like for an entire year.
Free Entry Days at Shenandoah National Park
- January 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 18: National Junior Ranger Day and the first day of National Park Week
- June 20: Neighbor Appreciation Day
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 26: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Shenandoah Special Events To Add to Your Calendar
To further entice you, ponder a few of these annual events held in Shenandoah National Park…
- July 18: Blackberry Delight is held at Skyland and features everything blackberry plus music, craft, ponies, and fun for the kiddos.
- August 14-16: The Night Sky Festival focuses on the beauty of the unpolluted skies above Shenandoah National Park and features educational programming for the whole family.
- September 19: Rolling in to its 21st year, the Annual Apple Butter Celebration is a demonstration of old-fashioned traditions. Watch (and participate in!) the apple boiling process, try local wine and hard cider, enjoy music and entertainment throughout the day, and let the kids ride a pony. The only way to get apple butter fresher than this is to make it yourself; be sure to take home a jar or three.
We’ll Be Waiting For You in Waynesboro
When you decide to come on down from your mountaintop experience, we’ll be waiting with tasty eats, delicious beverages, bountiful art and entertainment, and even more outdoor recreation. Let us know how we can help by connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and feel free to stop at the Rockfish Gap Tourist Information Center for maps and suggestions.