‘Per­fect storm’ blows into Shenan­doah Na­tional Park, and no­body’s com­plain­ing

‘So we fi­nally got some color — and some sun­shine — and it got ev­ery­body out!’

Rappahannock News - - FROM PAGE ONE - By John Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

Asteady stream of ve­hi­cles num­ber­ing in the thou­sands moved west through Rap­pa­han­nock both Satur­day and Sun­day, then back east again — well into the night.

“Twin­kling lights,” is how lo­cal res­i­dent Kathy McNitt de­scribed it from 3,000 feet below, re­fer­ring to the car­a­van of cars on Sky­line Drive at twi­light.

“It was the per­fect storm,” Shenan­doah Na­tional Park spokesper­son

Sally Hurl­bert told the Rap­pa­han­nock News. “Oc­to­ber is our busiest month, with two to three times the vis­i­tors com­pared to the rest of the year. But we’ve had so many rainy week­ends — lit­er­ally, this was our first sunny week­end, and the first week­end where we’ve had any color.

“The color was de­layed de­layed this year. So we fi­nally got some color — and some sun­shine — and it got ev­ery­body out!”

How many sun-de­prived, leaf-peep­ers were there?

“Maybe we broke some records,” Hurl­bert said, ex­plain­ing that of­fi­cial vis­i­tor statis­tics have yet to be com­pared to past years. But get a load of these fig­ures: On Satur­day, 2,856 ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing 7,324 peo­ple passed through the Thorn­ton Gap En­trance Sta­tion. And on Sun­day, 2,604 ve­hi­cles ar­rived with 7,062 pas­sen­gers.

Grand to­tal: 5,460 ve­hi­cles and 14,386 pas­sen­gers. The ma­jor­ity of them, no doubt, en­ter­ing the park af­ter driv­ing through Rap­pa­han­nock County.

An­other 18,000 peo­ple, trav­el­ing in just un­der 6,000 ve­hi­cles, en­tered the park’s Front Royal en­trance sta­tion over the week­end, one of the park’s four en­trance lo­ca­tions. Thorn­ton Gap and Front Royal are the busiest of the en­trance sta­tions.

All told, 17,431 ve­hi­cles en­tered the en­tire park on Satur­day and Sun­day, car­ry­ing 47,748 peo­ple.

“We were def­i­nitely staffed up, way more than nor­mal,” stressed Hurl­bert, “help­ing to move peo­ple through as quickly as we could.”

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