Celebrating Spring has not been the same here in Front Royal this year. Locals and tourists alike anticipated meandering through the glorious Shenandoah National Park, taking in the spectacular scenery and enduring rugged outdoor adventures. As a popular destination for weekenders in Warren County and nearby regions, drivers can ostensibly travel the 105-mile road in about three hours. But those three hours do not account for the enticement to stop, look, picnic, play or simply explore so much of what is Skyline Drive.
But all was changed on April 4, the day it was closed to motorists due to the coronavirus.
We missed the sounds of rumbling motorcycles coming in from I-66 transporting cruise riders, the Harley riders, and young-at-heart senior riders (good for them!). We missed the cars parked on the side while waiting for an order from Spelunker’s. We missed viewing the magnificent landscape dotted with flowering dogwood, redbud, and wild plum trees. We missed the trails artfully displaying colorful azaleas, pink-and-white mountain laurel, and hundreds of wildflowers carpeting the forest’s floor.
After many weeks and confusing federal and state guidelines, Shenandoah National Park will begin Phase Two of its phased reopening plan.
Phase Two: What You Need to Know
Beginning at 7:00 a.m. on June 11, 2020, Shenandoah National Park will reopen access to:
Concession-operated services will open as follows:
Beginning June 12, 2020, the Park will reopen access to:
With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:
Planning ahead is important.
Keep yourself and others safe by planning before coming to Shenandoah.
A few simple things can help ensure a safe visit.
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Shenandoah National Park, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/prevention-tips/, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website www.nps.gov/shen and social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/shenandoahnps/, https://twitter.com/ShenandoahNPS, and https://www.instagram.com/shenandoahnps/. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please visit www.goshenandoah.com for updates about park concessioner, Delaware North’s operations.
As the weather gets warmer and the dangers of the coronavirus are lessened, grab that picnic basket filled with your favorite foods. Do not forget the blanket, insect repellant, and a few rain ponchos. Your day to cruise Skyline Drive awaits.
And as the summer passes by so swiftly, the annuals in your garden will start to fade, the fireflies will take their final bow and the leaf peepers will back up traffic at the corner of South Royal Avenue and South Street.
It may have been a silent spring, but the roar of leather-clad motorcyclists and carloads of nature lovers won’t miss the must-take road trip this Fall.