There is no shortage of fun summer activities to do in Shenandoah National Park. You can hit one of the Park’s 500-plus miles of hiking trails. Have a picnic at one of seven picnic grounds. Spend the night in Skyland or historic Big Meadows Lodge, or rough it just a bit more in one of the Lewis Mountain Cabins. Camp at any of Shenandoah’s four campgrounds, or camp primitive style in the Park’s backcountry. (Be sure and get a free backcountry camping permit before you head out.) Go on a ranger-led walk or to a ranger program, or check out the National Park Service’s special events. Or simply motor along the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive, stopping at your favorite overlooks and taking in views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Virginia Piedmont to the east.
But did you know that Shenandoah’s authorized concession provider, Delaware North at Shenandoah, has also created a wealth of activities, events, and special services for you to enjoy during your visit to these beautiful mountains?
Apple Butter Celebration
One of the most popular traditions in Shenandoah is the annual Apple Butter Celebration, held at Skyland in September. Skyland staff start early in the morning, setting up copper kettles full of apples and spices to cook all day long. Give the apple butter kettle a stir yourself, and enjoy music and entertainment, delicious local cuisine, wine tastings or maybe a glass of hard cider. There are pony rides and crafts for the kiddos. At the end of the day, take home a jar or two of fresh apple butter – a yummy souvenir of your time in Shenandoah!
Night Sky Festival
The Night Sky Festival, scheduled this year for August 9th-11th, is quickly becoming one of Shenandoah’s most talked-about events. Join astronomy experts, amateur astronomers, and rangers all weekend long throughout the Park to learn more about the Milky Way, the planets, and constellations. Take a look through a telescope or solar scope, complete a special night skies Junior Ranger workbook and earn a badge. Celebrate the wonderful resource of dark skies that national parks like Shenandoah protect and preserve. All Night Sky Festival events are free.
There are so many more happenings for you to experience in Shenandoah National Park, including:
- culinary events
- wine tastings
- Skyland Whisky-Wine Shuttle
- lodge-to-lodge hiking packages
- hiking and basic survival skills seminars
- professionally guided rock climbing and rappelling
- horseback riding and wagonette rides
- live entertainment nightly in both lodges’ taprooms, including the crowd favorite, clogging!
- author presentations and nature talks
- movie, trivia, and game nights
- white oak basket making
- massage therapy
- self-guided scavenger hunts
In Shenandoah National Park, we’ve got so many possibilities for adventure and exploration in store for you. But don’t feel guilty if you decide to just sit on a ridge or the balcony of your lodge room and do nothing at all. We’ve got that, too.
Written by Patressa Kerns