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Shenandoah National Park Launches Pilot Ticketing Project for Popular Virginia Summit It’s no secret that people seeking safe open spaces have turned to the outdoors more than ever during the pandemic. As a result, popular hiking areas like Old Rag Mountain in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park (SNP) have been overrun by big crowds. Earlier this month, park officials implemented a pilot day-use ticketing program in hopes of mitigating the overuse impact caused by recent higher visitation rates. From March 1 to November 30, 2022, Old Rag Mountain, Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access Trails will require visitors to obtain a $1 day-use ticket in advance, in addition to a park entrance pass. Ticket availability is capped at 800 per day during the one-year pilot program. The intention behind the project is to not only better conserve the land and habitats of rare ecological species found on Old Rag, but also to improve visitor experience and address public safety concerns. Congestion on the popular mountain has been an issue since well before the pandemic. A visitor use study conducted in 2019 revealed that crowding on the trail and in the park’s facilities caused 79 percent of the 12 percent of people who did not make it to the Old Rag summit to turn around. “It’s sort of being loved to death,” Patrick Kenney, superintendent of SNP said. “We’re not in the business of turning people away from national parks and we’re trying not to do that. We’re just saying that Old […]