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The recent severe winter storms have left Shenandoah National Park with heavy accumulations of snow resulting in the complete closure of Skyline Drive. Although crews are working to open the Drive to visitor use, park staff anticipates that it will be early March at the earliest before sections of the road can be opened to the public. Employees have experienced snowdrifts of up to eight feet. Removal of the snow requires extensive loader work due to the depth and density of the snow drifts. Skip Willoughby, Roads Work Leader and 11 year veteran of the park, said “This is one the heaviest snows and the most we’ve had to deal with since I’ve been at the park.” With the depth of the snow, snowplows are unable to gain enough momentum to push snow over the rock walls making it more difficult to clear from road surfaces. Temperatures along the ridge top have not climbed above freezing, resulting in little melting. Additionally, winds continue to blow creating new drifts each night.
Hiking trails remain open to the public via the park boundary, but visitors should expect advanced hiking conditions due to the deep snow pack. Downed and hazard trees may be incurred at any time. Park staff has not assessed trail conditions at this time. Visitors should be aware that boundary parking areas and road shoulder parking may be unavailable due to snowdrifts or clearing operations.
Road conditions are updated on the park’s main phone line at 540-999-3500 and on the website.