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Shenandoah National Park overlook

Get in For Free on These Fee-Free Days

(Published 04/13/2023)

Shenandoah National Park is one of our country’s most valuable treasures and we are very lucky Staunton is just a short drive away. Are you visiting from out of town, or are you just too busy to justify committing to a pass for the entire year? We get you. Why not visit the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive on one of the annual fee-free days to get a taste of the adventure?

Fee-free entrance days for 2023

There are four more fee-free entrance days in 2023.

  • Saturday, April 22 – First Day of National Park Week
  • Friday, August 4 – Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • Saturday, September 23 – National Public Lands Day
  • Saturday, November 11 – Veterans Day

Got a 4th grader?

If your child is a 4th grader, your family can download a free pass through the Every Kid Outdoors program. The pass provides unlimited free entrance for the child’s family to all federal lands and waters, including Shenandoah National Park. The pass is good for an entire year. This program is designed to introduce children to the joys of nature and help them access and explore our protected lands.

Why visit Shenandoah National Park?

Visitors to the park can expect to be wowed by the incredible views from 75 overlooks along the 105-mile Skyline Drive. This beautiful road hugs the ridgeline and stretches the entire length of the park. You’ll be spoiled by the views of the mountains and Valley that can be scored without climbing any hills.

Hikers can earn even more views on over 500 miles of trails in the park. Looking for a waterfall? Try hiking the Doyles/Jones Falls loop or the Dark Hollow Falls trail. If you’d rather go up, tag the summits of Hawksbill and Stony Man Mountains, the highest peaks in the park. 

Shenandoah National Park provides habits for numerous species of animals and plants. You might see black bears, white-tailed deer, hawks, reptiles, and more. The park is also home to more than 70 fishable streams with more than 40 types of fish. Visitors are also drawn to displays of spring and summer wildflowers, and the leaf show in autumn is breathtaking.

Shenandoah National Park holds seasonal ranger-led programs. These include guided hikes, junior ranger days, workshops and classes, and more.

Can I stay in the park?

Shenandoah National Park offers lodges at Big Meadows and Skyland, and cabins at Lewis Mountain for people who want to spend the night in the park. There are four campgrounds with a mix of first-come-first-served and reservation sites. Additionally, campers and hikers opting for a more primitive experience can register for a backcountry pass.

If your home base is in Staunton and you’re venturing out for the day, try Hotel 24 South, the Blackburn Inn, or not far off the interstate the Tru By Hilton and Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites. The Frederick House and The Historic Berkeley Place are also the perfect choice if you’re looking for a small hotel/B&B experience in historic Staunton. There are many lodging properties in Staunton to choose from, so find one that suits your style.

Can I eat in the park?

Spread out your blanket or perch on the stone wall at any of the scenic overlooks for lunch with a view. Just remember to leave no trace and remove your trash. The park also boasts seven dedicated picnic grounds with grills, tables, trash receptacles, and restrooms. If you don’t feel like cooking, you’re in luck. The park has food stops located every 25 miles. They range from snacks and carry-out meals to sit-down dining. Mountain Taproom and New Market Taproom serve food as well as beer and local wine.

If you’re traveling from Staunton, think about picking up a boxed lunch from the Pampered Palate or Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery. How about some to-go burgers from Remedy Burger or tacos from Chicano Boy or Baja Bean.

Want to visit again?

After you fall in love with Shenandoah National Park, you’ll most likely want to return. 

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