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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
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 Big Meadows Lodge inside the Park.



Activity Particulars

Walking and hiking up to three 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.
Katharine Brown

Katharine Brown grew up in a Victorian mansion with a great-grandmother who told tales of family in the Mexican and Civil Wars. Katharine earned a Ph.D. in history at The Johns Hopkins University in 1969, has taught at several universities, and has written 12 books on American social history. She has been the director of the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library, and recently taught art and history at Mary Baldwin College.
 
Woody McKenzie

Woody and Marcia McKenzie are long-time residents of Virginia’s New River Valley and now live in Lynchburg. Woody builds instruments and is accomplished on guitar and mandolin, but fiddle is his greatest love. Marcia’s favorite instrument is her voice, but she plays the mandolin, guitar, clawhammer banjo, rhythm piano, drums and various whistles. Their repertoire of lively tunes, familiar ballads, sing-alongs and humorous novelty songs creates energetic entertainment.
 
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 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.
  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 to guests in the main lodge. Meals are at the Spottswood Dining Room, bright and rustic with timbered ceiling and floor to ceiling windows. A sitting room has chairs for reading, tables for games and puzzles, and 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 breakfast. 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. After the orientation, an option that will be available every evening until 11 pm is the New Market Taproom, on the lower level of the Lodge, offering beverages and live entertainment.
   
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. 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. 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. Class this morning, in the Lodge meeting room, will be the Cultural History of Shenandoah National Park. (Note: This is a sample schedule. Actual schedule may differ depending on availability of instructors.)
 Lunch: Lunch in the Spottswood Dining room
 Afternoon: This afternoon we will hike the relatively easy one mile trail to the Big Meadows Visitor Center. At the Visitor Center we will view a Park Ranger presentation such as "Bears, Bats, Bobcats, and more" about wildlife in the park. We will also go through the museum exhibit and view one or more of the films offered at the Visitor Center, before hiking either by the same trail or another trail to the Lodge.
 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.
   
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. 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
 Afternoon: Field trip continues to explore Shenandoah National Park.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: This evening we will enjoy a Park Ranger program either at the nearby amphitheater or around the campfire.
   
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 our longest hike of the program, to Dark Hollow Falls. The round-trip distance is about 5 miles. The first mile is relatively flat across meadows, but the next mile and a half does include a fair amount of slope, as one might expect when hiking on a mountain. Return is by the same route.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: Musical entertainment in the Lodge meeting room will be from the traditional American songbook, and is likely to include more than a few sing-alongs.
   
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 is about the music of the Blue Ridge, a vital element of the culture of the area.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Spottswood Dining room.
 Afternoon: The field trip this afternoon is a special opportunity. We'll accompany a Park Ranger in a van on a winding drive to the Historic Rapidan Camp, a fishing camp where President Herbert Hoover stayed to get away from Washington when he was in office. The camp is today preserved as a museum.
 Dinner: Dinner in the Spottswood Dining room
 Evening: This evening we will enjoy a Park Ranger program either at the nearby amphitheater or around the campfire.
   
Accommodations: Big Meadows Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast/ Departure
(Friday, September 19)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Spottswood Dining room
 Morning: Your program ends after breakfast. 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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