Special events planned for National Park Week – The Daily Progress

Shenandoah National Park will host special events to celebrate National Park Week from April 15 to April 23.

Entrance fees will be waived at all National Park Service sites, including Shenandoah, on April 15-16 and April 22-23. Events include ranger programs, presentations, stargazing, and the annual Junior Ranger Day. Shenandoah is also hosting a new event, Ride the Drive.

Kick off National Park Week by taking part in a ranger presentation called “What’s So Special About Shenandoah” in the Byrd Visitor Center auditorium at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 15. This 45-minute program will offer a glimpse into the natural and cultural history that makes Shenandoah such a special place.

Regulary scheduled ranger programs will begin on Sunday, April 16. Join rangers for talks, short walks, and Birds of Prey programs. For a complete list of ranger programs, check www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/rangerprograms.htm or stop by a Park visitor center.

On Friday, April 21, a special presentation, book signing, and stargazing event will take place at Byrd Visitor Center in conjunction with the fourth annual Starry Nights event hosted by James Madison University.

Join author Paul Bogard as he shares stories and experiences from his book The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in the Age of Artificial Light. After Bogard’s presentation, participants can move outside (weather permitting) for a public star party at Big Meadows.

Shanil Virani, director of the John C. Wells Planetarium in Harrisonburg, will be available to answer questions and provide constellation tours. Bogard’s hour-long presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. with stargazing from approximately 8:30 until 11 p.m. Starry Nights is a series of events designed to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies.

The annual Junior Ranger Day in Shenandoah will take place on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.6 on Skyline Drive) and Byrd Visitor Center (mile 51). Children and their adults will be able to examine nature items on touch tables, search for clues in indoor scavenger hunts, and try on ranger uniforms.

They will have a chance to check out a park patrol vehicle or ambulance, join a wildland firefighter working a fire hose, meet a live screech owl, or attend a talk about wildlife. National Junior Ranger Day is free and open to visitors of all ages. The complete schedule for this event and other special events in the Park can be found on our website at www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/special_events.htm.

The Ride the Drive event will take place on National Park Rx Day, Sunday, April 23, 2017. During this event, bicyclists (and other users of non-motorized vehicles) will enjoy Skyline Drive’s north district from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

During those hours the portion of the Drive from Front Royal (mile 0) to Thornton Gap (mile 31.5) will be open to non-motorized vehicles only. The rest of Skyline Drive will remain open to all vehicles. This event required registration, which opened on March 10, and is now closed. For complete details, please visit the SNP website at https://www.nps.gov/shen/ride-the-drive.htm.

National Park Rx Day is celebrated across the United States to promote the growing movement of prescribing parks and nature to patients to improve human health. It encourages everyone to envision their visits to parks and public lands as very important parts of their physical and mental health.

National Park Week is an annual celebration of national heritage and is focused on exploring our amazing national parks. The National Park Service encourages everyone to find their own connection to the network of public lands and places that protect and preserve the nation’s natural and cultural history.