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

Program Number: 17170RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/14/2014 - 9/19/2014; 7/19/2015 - 7/24/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Price starting at: $855.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: National Parks; Walking/Hiking; History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

Immerse yourself in the history of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Learn about personal sacrifices residents made in order to make possible Congress' 1926 "novel experiment" that gave birth to the Park and its famous Skyline Drive, which became a National Scenic Byway. And take hikes while basking in the splendor of the Park's natural beauty.




Highlights

• Explore mountains, forests, and meadows in Shenandoah National Park, the first established in the east, and traverse Skyline Drive with its gentle curves and many vistas.
• Enjoy daily hikes and special evening performances and talks.
• Stay overnight at the Big Meadows Lodge complex inside the Park.



Activity Particulars

Walking and hiking up to five miles per day.




Date Specific Information

9-14-2014, 7-19-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Coordinated by Virginia Commonwealth University.




Shenandoah National Park

The first national park east of the Mississippi encompasses 200,000 acres and historic Big Meadows Lodge on Skyline Drive, a 105-mile-long scenic highway atop the Blue Ridge. Nestled between Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont hills 65 miles west of Washington, D.C., the park draws hikers, campers, birders and wildlife watchers.



Accommodations
NPS-owned Big Meadows Lodge inside Shenandoah National Park.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Jeffrey Ruggles

Jeffrey Ruggles is a historian and photographer whose specialities include the history of Virginia and 19th-20th century popular culture. He has published a book on photography and a biography of Henry Box Brown. His professional background includes curator at Virginia Historical Society, gallery exhibitions, and permanent installations. Jeffrey also owned and operated a popular restaurant in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom for a number of years.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Big Meadows Lodge
  Shenandoah National Park 5 nights
 Big Meadows Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Located within Shenandoah National Park, Big Meadows Lodge opened shortly after the park was officially opened. The main lodge was built in 1939 with stones cut from the Massanutten Mountains to the west. In recent years the interior has been restored to its original look and furnishings, featuring wood paneling made from native chestnut trees that are now virtually extinct. The main lodge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Cabins and other units in the complex were added in the 1940s and 50s.
  Contact info: MP 51
Skyline Drive, VA 22851 USA
phone: 540-999-2222
web: http://www.goshenandoah.com/Big-Meadows-Lodge.aspx
  Room amenities: Coffee maker, clock radio
  Facility amenities: Rooms are simply furnished and do not have phones. Wi-Fi is available free of charge in the Great Room at the main lodge. Meals are at the Spottswood Dining Room, bright and rustic with timbered ceiling and floor to ceiling windows. The Great Room is a sitting room with chairs for reading, tables for games and puzzles, and a line of rockers facing big picture windows overlooking the Shenandoah Valley. Located within the main lodge are the New Market Taproom, an evening option which offers entertainment, and the Craft Shop.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:00-5:00 PM in lodge lobby for Road Scholar registration. You will be staying at Big Meadows Lodge that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after wrap-up session. Room checkout is 11 am. You will be staying at Big Meadows Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. none
  Parking availability:
Parking at Lodge surface lot.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Shenandoah National Park
  Nearest city or town:  Staunton, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville
  Nearest highway: I-81
  From End of Program
  Location: Shenandoah National Park
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport to Big Meadows Lodge

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Car Rentals
Avis, Budget, or Hertz
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

varies
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

1 hour 

 

Distance:

 

42 miles

   

No public transportation from airport to Big Meadows Lodge. Call ahead to make arrangements for car rental.

 
Driving Directions
  From the north on I-81 to Big Meadows Lodge Take I-81 south to Edinburg, which is 20 miles south of the connection to I-66 from Washington, D.C. At Exit #279, take Va 675 to the east (actually southeast) for 18 miles to US 211 at Luray. Take US 211 east for 10 miles to Skyline Drive. Here you will enter Shenandoah National Park, which requires an entrance fee (or it's free with an "Interagency Senior Pass"). Turn south on Skyline Drive, which has many curves and a top speed limit of 45 mph. Big Meadows Lodge is 19 miles south.
  From the south on I-81 to Big Meadows Lodge Take I-81 north to Harrisonburg. At Exit #247, take US 33 to the east for 23 miles to Skyline Drive. Here you will enter Shenandoah National Park, which requires an entrance fee (or it's free with an "Interagency Senior Pass"). Turn north on Skyline Drive, which has many curves and a top speed limit of 45 mph. Big Meadows Lodge is 14 miles north.
  From the south thru Richmond to Big Meadows Lodge At Richmond take I-64 west for about 70 miles. At Charlottesville, take Exit #118, US 29 Bypass north. Take US 29 north for 17 miles to Ruckersville. Take US 33 west for about 18 miles to Skyline Drive. Here you will enter Shenandoah National Park, which requires an entrance fee (or it's free with an "Interagency Senior Pass"). Turn north on Skyline Drive, which has many curves and a top speed limit of 45 mph. Big Meadows Lodge is 14 miles north.
Elevation Note: Lodge is located at crest of Blue Ridge at 3675 feet. Elevations in park reach 4000 feet.

Equipment Requirements: Comfortable walking shoes for field trips, hikes. Clothing for inclement weather is recommended.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration, Orientation
(Sunday, September 14)
   
 Afternoon: Welcome to Big Meadows Lodge! Rooms should be ready by 4:00pm. Register with Road Scholar in the lobby 4:00-5:00pm and receive your program materials.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: Orientation in the Lodge classroom. An option available each evening from 9-11 pm is live music in the New Market Taproom on the lower level of the main lodge.
   
Accommodations: Big Meadows Lodge
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Classes, Hike to Visitor Center, Ranger program
(Monday, September 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Spottswood Dining room
 Morning: Become a naturalist and experience the forested mountains of historic Virginia. The Blue Ridge Mountains are the east range of the ancient Appalachians, home to mists and fog, landscapes and breeze, a delicate flower and a busy songbird. Seventy-five years ago the north end of the Blue Ridge was gathered into Shenandoah National Park, and during the Depression, atop the ridge through the park was built a winding road called Skyline Drive, today a National Scenic Byway. Explore the pioneering people and the culture that developed in these upper Virginia Mountains. Learn of the personal sacrifices residents made for the park. Study the venerable mountains that tell a fantastic tale of origin and the web of life that dwells there yet. With numerous overlooks above the rolling hills of the Piedmont to the east and the Shenandoah Valley to the west, the 105 miles of Skyline Drive connect at Afton with the 470 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most visited unit of the National Park Service, reaching the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Our program will include classes, hikes, field trips, and presentations. This morning we will hike the relatively easy one mile trail to the Big Meadows Visitor Center. At the Visitor Center we will meet a Park Ranger for a guided walk through the namesake meadows. The Visitor Center has Rangers on duty to answer questions, a museum exhibit, a theater which offers films on demand, and a gift shop. After the meadow walk we will hike back to Big Meadows Lodge, for a total distance of about 3.5 miles. (PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample schedule. The schedule for each session may be different depending on Park schedule, availability of instructors, and other factors.)
 Lunch: Lunch in the Spottswood Dining room
 Afternoon: Shenandoah National Park was authorized in 1926 and dedicated by President Roosevelt in 1936. Land was acquired through "eminent domain" and we'll learn the history of the Park's creation, including the families and communities that were "displaced." Classes focus on the people who pioneered and lived in that area, and the ecology, natural history, and folklore of the Shenandoah. Class this afternoon, in the main lodge meeting room, will cover the cultural history of Shenandoah National Park.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: Class this evening at the Lodge meeting room will be a presentation by a retired Park Ranger on his experiences along the Blue Ridge Parkway. An option available each evening from 9-11 pm is live music in the New Market Taproom on the lower level of the main lodge.
   
Accommodations: Big Meadows Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Field trip along Skyline Drive, Ranger program
(Tuesday, September 16)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Spottswood Dining room
 Morning: Led by our naturalist/retired park ranger, a field trip by bus along Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. Probably the most famous feature of the park is the highway constructed in the 1930s to follow the crest of the Blue, with a top speed limit of 35 to 45 mph. We will take advantage of opportunities to stop at overlooks and, depending on conditions, at one or more of the Park trails for short hikes. Possible hikes include the Limberlost Trail at MP 43, a 1.3 mile circuit through an upland marsh, and the Stony Man Trail at MP 42, a 1.6 mile circuit to a 4000-foot summit and view. The Park is largely forested, with more than 100 species of trees and more than 1,100 species of plants, including 18 varieties of orchids. The variety of ecosystems within the Park include old growth hemlock forests, hardwood/deciduous forests, meadows, marsh and bogs, and pristine wilderness. To the west, the famed Shenandoah River flows at the base of the mountains. Our naturalist will help to find and identify many of the trees, wildflowers and birds that we encounter. For a list of some of the species in the Park, visit www.ohranger.com/shenandoah/flora-fauna.
 Lunch: Picnic box lunch along Skyline Drive, at a site such as Elkwallow Picnic Area.
 Afternoon: Field trip continues to explore Shenandoah National Park. An afternoon stop is Massanutten Lodge, the restored home of George and Addie Pollack who operated Skyland as a private camp before the park was established.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: This evening we will enjoy a Park Ranger program at the Big Meadows amphitheater. An option available each evening from 9-11 pm is live music in the New Market Taproom on the lower level of the main lodge.
   
Accommodations: Big Meadows Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Morning class/ Afternoon hike/ Performance
(Wednesday, September 17)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Spottswood Dining room
 Morning: Class this morning will be on the geological history of the Blue Ridge.
 Lunch: Lunch in the Spottswood Dining room
 Afternoon: This afternoon is a hike to Dark Hollow Falls. The round-trip distance is about 3.6 miles. The first mile is relatively easy across meadows, to the start of the trail to the waterfall. The waterfall trail is .8 mile down and then .8 mile back up, and is the steepest trail on the program schedule. The reward is a 70-foot waterfall deep in the hollow. Once back to the top, it’s the same relatively easy mile back to Big Meadow Lodge.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: Free evening. An option available each evening from 9-11 pm is live music in the New Market Taproom on the lower level of the main lodge.
   
Accommodations: Big Meadows Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Morning class/ Afternoon field trip/ Ranger program
(Thursday, September 18)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Spottswood Dining room
 Morning: Class this morning will be a Park Ranger-led seminar on a current issue facing Shenandoah National Park.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Spottswood Dining room.
 Afternoon: The field trip this afternoon is a visit to Rapidan Camp. The camp was President Herbert Hoover’s retreat during his term in office, a fishing camp where he and his wife spent weekends during the warmer months. The Hoover’s cabin has been restored and another cabin has been made into a small museum. The hike to the camp is 4 miles round trip, with 3 stream crossings and it does have some steep sections.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: This evening we will enjoy a Park Ranger program at the Big Meadows amphitheater. An option available each evening from 9-11 pm is live music in the New Market Taproom on the lower level of the main lodge.
   
Accommodations: Big Meadows Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast, Wrap-up, Departure
(Friday, September 19)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Spottswood Dining room
 Morning: After breakfast we will meet for a wrap-up session. Room checkout is 11 am.
 Morning: Travel safe!
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


The greatest single feature--a sky-line drive: 75 years of a mountaintop motorway


Author: Reed L. Engle


Description: A pictorial history about the planning and construction of Skyline Drive



Wildflowers of Shenandoah National Park: a pocket field guide


Author: Ann Simpson and Rob Simpson


Along Virginias Appalachian Trail


Author: Leonard M. Adkins and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy


Description: A pictorial history that covers sections in both Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway





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