Forty percent of the park, or almost 80,000 acres in Shenandoah were designated as wilderness by Congress in October 1976, representing one of the largest wilderness areas in the eastern United States. Wilderness areas provide sanctuaries for human recreation, habitat for wildlife, sites for research, and reservoirs for clean, free-flowing water. More than 107 million acres of public land are currently protected in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Wilderness Weekend is a partnership between Shenandoah National Park, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), and the Shenandoah National Park Association (SNPA). PATC volunteers will be stationed at several overlooks along Skyline Drive to share information about Shenandoah’s wilderness with visitors enjoying the park’s fall foliage. On Saturday, volunteers from the Society of American Foresters will also be at overlooks sharing information about forest conservation.
Visitors will be able to celebrate wilderness by viewing Shenandoah’s wilderness from Skyline Drive, hiking one of the many trails, joining a ranger program, completing the new Wilderness Explorer Ranger Activity Guide, or exploring a visitor center exhibit.
Two special events will take place at the Byrd Visitor Center at milepost 51 on Skyline Drive. The first event will be a traditional tool display and demonstration from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. Shenandoah National Park Trail Crews and PATC and SNPA volunteers will share their expertise in the traditional tools used to maintain trails in wilderness. Visitors will be able to try their hands at using these tools and gain insight on the important role trail maintenance plays in protecting wilderness for future generations. The second event will be a series of 20-minute ranger programs held at 11:30 and 3:30 each day. These programs will explore the history and values of Shenandoah’s wilderness.
Visitors can also explore the history and meaning of wilderness through a computer touch screen exhibit, “The Spirit of Wilderness.” A newly released film narrated by Christopher Reeves, American Values: American Wilderness, will also be available for viewing upon request.
For more information on Wilderness Weekend or Shenandoah National Park, visit the park’s website at: http://www.nps.gov/shen
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