17170
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park: Nature, History and Trails in the Blue Ridge
Find out how Shenandoah National Park came to be as you enjoy expert-led walks, short hikes, educational excursions and evening performances in this national gem.
Program No. 17170RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
999
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Shenandoah National Park
D
Big Meadows Lodge

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.

DAY
2
Classes, Hike to Visitor Center, Ranger program
Shenandoah National Park
B,L,D
Big Meadows Lodge

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.

DAY
3
Field trip along Skyline Drive, Ranger program
Shenandoah National Park
B,L,D
Big Meadows Lodge

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.

DAY
4
Morning Class, Afternoon Hike, Live Music in the Main Lodge
Shenandoah National Park
B,L,D
Big Meadows Lodge

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.

DAY
5
Morning Class, Afternoon Field Trip, Ranger Program
Shenandoah National Park
B,L,D
Big Meadows Lodge

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.

DAY
6
Wrap-up Session, Program Concludes
Shenandoah National Park
B

Breakfast: Breakfast in the Spottswood Dining room

Morning: After breakfast we will meet for a wrap-up session. Room checkout is 11 am.