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Shenandoah National Park: Nature, Hikes & History in the Blue Ridge

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Program #17170RJ

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6 Days | 5 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderately Challenging
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. Minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding, and rewarding, programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Cheryl from Appleton, WI Number of programs attended: 5
Date attended: 09/13/15 - 09/18/15
Hiking is on rustic trails with exposed roots, rocks and steepness. If you are planning on 10 mile hikes, it is as they said in the description, "4-5 mile hikes." A more experienced hiking group did take a longer hike one day, and there are opportunities to hike portions of the Appalachian Trail near the lodge on free time without a guide. Great food at the Big Meadows Lodge! Rustic accommodations or modern rooms depending on assigned rooms. Beautiful area for peacefulness, history lessons, geology, and nature.

Geoffrey from New York, NY Number of programs attended: 2
Date attended: 07/19/15 - 07/24/15
Hiking difficulty was variable, but correctly described by Road Scholar. When we arrived (rustic, but nice, lodge) the staff was cautious by overstating the steepness of the trails. No hike over 5 miles r.t., and bring your hiking shoes, a walking staff, and bug spray.

Mary Beth from Columbus, OH Number of programs attended: 5
Date attended: 07/19/15 - 07/24/15
This program is set in the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. The woods are gorgeous, and the educational programs were varied and interesting. However, I joined this program because I wanted to hike in the woods, and I was disappointed. Except for one day when a retired park ranger led the hike, it was clear that hiking was not a focus for the organizers. The organizers did not understand the needs of hikers, so strenuous hikes were scheduled in the heat of the afternoon in Virginia in July, rather than the morning, so we could stay awake through class. The leaders had no water, first aid kits, or training in natural sciences to support hikers, so I could have saved my money and hiked on my own. If you're looking for a good hiking experience, look elsewhere.

Judy from Sarasota, FL Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14
This is the "lead in" to what was posted under "Tom." I had to cut this from that review because of the word limit. I think it makes more sense if you read this first. The first things we notice are the fresh air, dense green forests, abundant white-tailed deer. There’s a hush, in spite of a large number of guests in residence, as evidenced by the half-full parking lot. At 3,500 feet elevation, there are expansive views of ridges and the valley below, indistinct through a smoky haze. Big Meadows Lodge is rustic and charming with its thick slabs of chestnut paneling. The great room here is inviting with plenty of comfortable seating, huge stone fireplace, memorabilia, and floor to ceiling windows overlooking treetops. The staff (and dining staff) was very hospitable and competent. (End of "lead in.") I might also add that I enjoyed Barbara Wright's lecture about the family that was displaced. I feel badly for all of the families and I wish that they had been adequately compensated (with land elsewhere and a stipend). I wonder how many of the ancestors of the original dispaced families still live in the area and still hike to their families original homesteads and cemeteries? I think this would make a great lecture.

Tom from Sarasota, FL Number of programs attended: 14
Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14
The staff (and dining staff) was very hospitable and competent. We thought the food was delicious, beautifully presented (see photo of soup and salad) with generous portions; exquisite Alaskan salmon, trout, beef pot roast, fried chicken, scones, banana bread, distinctive blackberry ice cream and blackberry “lemonade.” Hikes were quite manageable by both of us (Tom at 77 and fairly “fit,” me with my too high BMI around 29, too much information, but it gives others an idea of what they might accomplish). Hikes progressed from shorter, flatter, easier to longer, steeper, rockier at the end (4 mile Rapidan hike was challenging for me). Several interesting lectures and slide presentations by park rangers and our program administrators Barbara Wright and Jeffrey Ruggles. Barbara’s lecture centered on the Bastine family, original settlers who were displaced when the Park Service took over. My favorite was a slide show by Jeffrey Ruggles about artist Edward Beyer who created traveling cycloramas in the 1850s. Retired park ranger, Bruce Bytner, author of “A Park Ranger’s Life,” enchanted us with stories from 32 years of challenges and rewards. Barbara and Jeffrey were accessible, easy to be around, generous with their knowledge and information. Last, but certainly not least -- this was a large group of people and I don't think there was one stinker in the bunch. Thoroughly enjoyed all of our well-traveled, easy-going, thoughtful and "happy to share their experiences" fellow participants. –- Judy Bell

Susan from Asheville, NC Number of programs attended: 5
Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14
Susan from Asheville, NC Number of programs attended: 5 Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14 Shenandoah Valley was only a place I would drive through before, and now I really know it. Beautiful Big Meadow Lodge had fabulous food, staff. Our leaders Barb and Jeff were outstanding. Retired Ranger Bruce most entertaining. Right balance of hikes daily. Great group of singles, couples who were so interesting to get to know.

Leonard from Roslyn, NY Number of programs attended: 6
Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14
Len from Roslyn NY 9/14 - 9/19/14 Unsurpassed scenery and balanced hiking -- not too easy but not too hard. I especially loved the talk by the retired ranger, Bruce. Food was varied and accommodations very good. We could look down 3000 feet from our window but that is not for all rooms.

Laurie from Indianapolis, IN Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14
This was my first road scholar trip and I thoroughly enjoyed all of it; the people, the hikes, the lectures, the stories, the food. I can't wait to sign up for my next trip!

James from Abington, PA Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14
Nice balanced program, great location and scenery, wonderful group of people, and terrific staff. Learned a bit and we quite enjoyed ourselves.

Mary from Chicago, IL Number of programs attended: 35
Date attended: 09/14/14 - 09/19/14
An excellent program. Very knowledgeable leaders and lecturers. The scenery was breathtaking and the hikes were terrific. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Kudos to Barbara, Jeffrey, Bruce et al.

JoAnn from Auburn, NY Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 07/20/14 - 07/25/14
This was my first RS trip and I was extremely pleased with all aspects of the trip. Met some great people and enjoyed hearing all about their travels. The food was exceptional and we never had to worry about tipping - great experience.

David from Mint Hill, NC Number of programs attended: 61
Date attended: 07/20/14 - 07/25/14
Really enjoyed this program. True, there some rough edges typical of new programs, but no doubt these will be eliminated in subsequent programs. Shenandoah NP is a very beautiful place, and the program presents it very well.

Judith from Mint Hill, NC Number of programs attended: 61
Date attended: 07/20/14 - 07/25/14
This program needs a few changes. Overall it was a good program. The ranger led hikes and talks were good. The accommodations were what you would expect in National Park. Comfortable, but some things needed repair. One hike was a challenge, but worth it. The food was excellent, and we had a nice variety. The servings were huge. With a few changes the program will be a excellent one instead of a good one.

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"Views from Stoney Man summit." Uploaded By: Sharon
"Views from Stoney Man summit." Uploaded By: Sharon

"Views from Skyline Drive" Uploaded By: Sharon

"One of the rustic rooms. No a/c, phone, or t.v." Uploaded By: Sharon

"Thistle. Glad to see so many bees pollinating so many plants in and around Big Meadows." Uploaded By: Tom

"Green Granite rock inversion." Uploaded By: Tom

"Dark Hollow Falls at the bottom of a steep hike. On the way back, I thought, "That wasn't so bad after all."" Uploaded By: Tom

"Great room at Big Meadows Lodge" Uploaded By: Tom

"Deer near front entrance of Big Meadows Lodge" Uploaded By: Tom

"Hatchway door between rooms 13 & 14" Uploaded By: Tom

"Crescent Rock View" Uploaded By: Tom

"Park Ranger Lectures Road Scholars at Big Meadows" Uploaded By: Tom

"Old Man Nicholson from an old printed map in the lobby at Big Meadows Lodge" Uploaded By: Tom

"Deer at Big Meadows" Uploaded By: Tom

"Room 14, Big Meadows Lodge. Adjoined room 13 as a suite through a hatch door in the bathroom." Uploaded By: Tom

"Tom Hopp & Road Scholars at Big Meadows" Uploaded By: Tom

"Soup & Spinach-Feta Salad with so many berries. Salmon burger at right." Uploaded By: Tom

"Very good program!" Uploaded By: David

"Really enjoyed all facets of Program." Uploaded By: Harold

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
5 nights of accommodations
15 meals: 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
9 Expert-led lectures
5 Field trips
1 Performances


Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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