Wilderness Weekend

Thornton hollow with Fall foliage

NPS | Neal Lewis

Shenandoah National Park Celebrates Wilderness!
September 8 - 9, 2018

Celebrate America's wilderness heritage during Shenandoah National Park's 18th annual Wilderness Weekend. One of the largest wilderness areas in the eastern United States, Shenandoah's wilderness offers opportunities for solitude, scenic views, wildlife sightings, and glimpses into the past. Gaze into Shenandoah's wilderness from Skyline Drive or experience wilderness on the trail.

Shenandoah's wilderness was designated by Congress in October 1976. Forty percent of the park, almost 80,000 acres, is wilderness. Areas preserved as wilderness provide habitats for wildlife, sites for research, reservoirs for clean, free-flowing water, and sanctuaries for human recreation. Today more than 109 million acres of public land across the United States are protected in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Join us at one of the special programs listed below to learn more about wilderness in Shenandoah.


Discover Wilderness: Activities, Exhibits, and Displays

10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Byrd Visitor Center
Saturday & Sunday

Drop by Byrd Visitor Center anytime from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and learn about the value of wilderness in Shenandoah National Park and meet with the people who protect this valuable resource. Stations include:

  • Traditional Tool Display: Visit our trail crew as they share their expertise in traditional tools used to maintain trails in wilderness. Visitors will be able to try their hands at using the tools and gain insight into the important role trail maintenance plays in protecting wilderness for future generations.

  • What’s a Wilderness Campsite?: See a campsite ready for exploring wilderness and speak with a Backcountry Ranger about wilderness skills.

  • Exhibits and Children’s Activities: Rangers will be on site to help explore the history and significance of Shenandoah's Wilderness through exhibits and hands-on activities for children.

  • The film, “American Values: American Wilderness,” explores wilderness across the United States and can be seen upon request at Byrd Visitor Center.

  • *Sunday Only* Packing for Success: Speak with representatives from PSAR (Preventative Search and Rescue) and learn the 10 essential items you should bring on your wilderness experience.

Dogs East: Search and Rescue Dogs Seminar

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Big Meadows Amphitheater
Saturday Only

Dogs East was founded in 1980 and is a professional search and rescue organization composed entirely of volunteers. They are on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Come learn and observe how these dogs play a critical role in search and rescue operations.

Wilderness Lessons

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Byrd Visitor Center Terrace
Saturday & Sunday

Join a Backcountry Ranger for a short discussion on the special places we know as wilderness.

Wilderness in Shenandoah

10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Dickey Ridge Visitor Center
Saturday & Sunday

Drop by the activity table at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and learn all about backcountry travel and camping skills. Talk to a Backcountry Ranger about wilderness, camping, Leave No Trace, and how you can protect Shenandoah's wild spaces.

Live Bird Migration Watching

Dickey Ridge Visitor Center
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Sunday Only

Visit a Ranger at the observation platform outside Dickey Ridge Visitor Center to learn all about migratory birds and how they depend on wilderness as habitat. You'll even have a chance to look through binoculars and a spotting scope to see what birds are flying over!

Want more wilderness? Step inside Byrd Visitor Center and see the interactive exhibit, “Within a Day’s Drive of Millions,” telling the story of Shenandoah’s establishment, including the significance of wilderness designation. The interactive exhibit at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center dives into Shenandoah’s wild side.

Last updated: September 27, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


(540) 999-3500

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