Update Recreational Permit Fees for Campgrounds and Establish Backcountry Camping and Old Rag Mountain Day Use Fees and Reservation System

Shenandoah National Park » Update Recreational Permit Fees for Campgrounds and Establish Backcountry Camping and Old Rag Mountain Day Use Fees and Reservation System » Document List

Shenandoah National Park is seeking feedback on proposed fee increases to be implemented over the next two years. This proposal does not include an increase in entrance fees and only focuses on specific user fees.

The money collected at entrance stations, campgrounds, and through other user fees supports a great deal of work that would not otherwise be possible. A requirement of using these funds generated by park users is that the projects must improve the visitor experience. Recent fee-funded projects have included new campground fixtures in Big Meadows, bear-resistant food lockers in various campgrounds, and construction of the new Old Rag parking lot.

"Shenandoah National Park will use the increased revenue to fund projects and services that will benefit the visitor and contribute to the protection of Shenandoah's natural and cultural resources." Said Superintendent Pat Kenney. As a result, visitors can expect improvements in the campgrounds, in their backcountry camping experience, and at Old Rag.

There are three user fees under consideration in the proposal:

1) Increase the campground nightly fee to $30 at all four campgrounds from the current
$15 to $20 charge. Group campsites, which accommodate up to 25 people at some locations, are also proposed to increase to $75. The increased fees will provide needed revenue to maintain and improve campgrounds.

2) Implement a backcountry camping permit system that allows the Park to track and understand backcountry use in a way that better protects the resource and provides an improved visitor experience. A fee-based online registration system through recreation.gov will allow users to plan their trip in advance with current information using a reliable system and will provide financial support for management of the park's backcountry. A fee ranging from $20-30 is likely to depend on the number of backcountry nights for each permit. It will modernize the backcountry permit system with online camping information and help protect the natural and cultural resources of the park. Details of this system are planned to be developed through 2022 for an implementation date of late 2022 or early 2023.

3) Establish a pilot project for Old Rag mountain visitor access through a new ticketing system at recreation.gov. The new system will require Old Rag users to get daily reservations in advance to help manage visitor use for most of the year. There will be a minimal ($1 to $2) processing fee during the pilot. Visitor use and expectations research indicates significant crowding and congestion at Old Rag at busy times. These studies indicate that managing total daily use during most of the year will improve visitor experience, reduce congestion and safety risks, and protect the rare ecological communities on the mountain. The majority of Old Rag users surveyed in 2019 supported a system to limit users to protect the environment or increase safety. The pilot is intended to test, evaluate, and adapt to a more permanent system (with a different use fee) in the future. The pilot ticketing is proposed to begin in March 2022.

To learn more about this proposal, there will be two 1.5 hour virtual public presentations on August 24 starting at 7:00 p.m. and August 26 at 3:00 p.m. In person meetings will not be held because of the resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the region. For more details and links to the meetings, click on "Meeting Notices" in the menu to the left. The presentations will be followed by question-and-answer sessions on the proposal. No comments or input will be officially accepted at those meetings - we request your feedback in writing on this website or mailed to the Superintendent. Additional information, including FAQs on the proposal and links to park guidance on backcountry use and Old Rag, is also available by clicking on "Links" in the menu to the left. The Old Rag Mountain Visitor Use Study and the presentation shared during the first virtual public meeting are both available in the "Document List".

You are invited to provide feedback on Shenandoah National Park's proposed fee increases electronically by clicking on "Open for Comment" on the menu to the left and leaving comments on this website or sending comments by regular mail. The public comment period closes on September 16.

Thank you for your participation and interest in this proposal. We look forward to hearing from you!

Contact Information

Jim Schaberl
Chief of Natural and Cultural Resources
540-999-3500 x3491