Shenandoah’s Most Popular Mountain Will Require A Permit in 2023
Visitors to Shenandoah National Park could expect to face permission limitations on the region's most popular peak beginning March 1 of this year.
Park managers introduced a test program last year to restrict Old Rag access by requiring ticketed admittance. Visitors who intended to hike the summit were required to purchase one of 800 daily allowed tickets under these rules. This year, the same restrictions apply.
According to a national park statement, the continuing use of tickets is intended to improve visitor safety and provide relief to the mountain's natural resources. Superintendent Pat Kenney responded to the ruling by saying that re-implementing these limitations during the 2023 season will be another step toward helping the park balance access and resource conservation.
“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,” he said.
The Old Rag loop is a tough climb including scrambling that is regularly popular due to the view from the peak's rocky top. It is somewhat more than 9 kilometers long. Old Rag is also a common location for rescues due to injuries or trekkers bringing improper equipment.
Old Rag is only one of several renowned national park attractions that are now only accessible by permit. Zion National Park implemented a test program on Angel's Landing last year, a highly exposed walk that entails crossing chain links over precipitous slopes to reach a panorama. The park now issues 900 permits each day under the new limits, with each ticket accommodating up to six guests. Prior to the permit limits, Angel's Landing regularly received upwards of 1,100 or even 2,000 hikers on peak weekends.
Similarly, Acadia National Park's most well-known feature, the Cadillac Summit Road, recently established a timed admission system for visitors hoping to take in the area's breathtaking views. Guests must spend $6 on a reservation up to two days before their visit to reserve a position; also, visitors can only book one sunrise reservation per week per vehicle.
The Old Rag pilot program will run from March through the end of November, covering the park's peak season. Those interested in reserving tickets can apply to a pool of 400 tickets 30 days before the hiking date. The remaining 400 tickets will be given by the park system five days before the hiking date. Tickets are available at recreation.gov and are only valid for the date specified.
Recreation.gov - Map Photo
Shenandoah National Park - Photo(s)
Virginia State - Photo(s)
12° NORTH INDUSTRIES