Rappahannock News

SNP to reinstate Old Rag ticketing program

- From staff and contribute­d reports

Shenandoah National Park on last Wednesday announced it will reinstate the Old Rag ticketing pilot program in March for a second year.

The park began the program last year to test a system intended to address crowding and congestion on one of Shenandoah’s most popular destinatio­ns by controllin­g the number of hikers on the mountain and combating bottleneck­s that can create long waits along narrow corridors of the nearly 10-mile loop trail.

The goals are to improve the visitor experience and safety, as well as to protect fragile natural resources at Old Rag.

During the pilot, hikers who used trails in the Old Rag area (Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access) were required to purchase day-use tickets that were capped at 800 each day. Park staff collected data to be used to determine if the system was contributi­ng toward relieving congestion.

The park planned to share the data and evaluate the pilot in early January, but two winter storms in December caused widespread damage, closing Skyline Drive and delaying release of the data, according to a news release from the park.

“Reopening Skyline Drive was our top priority in January, which did not allow us the time needed for evaluating the pilot program” Superinten­dent Pat Kenney, a Castleton resident, said in a statement. “We have decided to reinstate the pilot for 2023 to gather more informatio­n and to be able to devote time for careful considerat­ion of a longer-term solution to address our concerns at Old Rag.”

In the next few months park staff will share the data and provide an opportunit­y for more public input.

A total of 800 tickets will be available for each day for $1 beginning March 1 to November 30; 400 will be available 30 days prior to the date of arrival, and the remaining 400 will be released five days in advance.

 ?? FILE PHOTO COURTESY SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK ?? Hikers on Old Rag’s summit last summer.
FILE PHOTO COURTESY SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK Hikers on Old Rag’s summit last summer.

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