Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021 - 6

FROM THE EDITOR

SMOKIES, SHENANDOAH, BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

National Parks: Let's Celebrate

By KURT RHEINHEIMER

F

amily legend has it that my first
" hike " took place as I was nestled
among several pillows inside a
round wicker laundry basket,
which was somehow tied to my
father's back.
Shenandoah National Park's Skyland Lodge offers a blend of 1930s architecture,
This was the late 1940s, as my
great views into Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, along with fine dining and plenty
father, my mother and I had arrived in
of hiking just out the front door.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park after traveling pre-Interstate roads for who
knows how many hours from Baltimore
south in a balky Studebaker Champion convertible that print shout-out to the Smokies, the Shenandoah and the
tended to overheat on long ascents.
park that connects them-the Blue Ridge Parkway. Those
The balky part of me, apparently, was my wobbly tod- parks, now all in their 80s and with their wear and tear
dler neck, as Eloise put an end to Walter's infant-carrier scheduled to get some needed attention via the Great
contraption after a number of miles that I'm sure was American Outdoors Act of 2020, are a central aspect of
deeply insufficient to him.
this magazine's coverage area and focus.
The park was about 10 years old, and welcomed, durAnd the $1.9 billion per year for the next five years
ing those years, about 1.5 million visitors each year. In that will help address the deep backlog in maintenance
2020, its 80th year, Great Smoky Mountains National will also benefit many other entities, including waterPark maintained its usual top-three spot for visitation ways, national forests and smaller entities under the Deamong all national parks.
partment of the Interior.
My father's favorite spots had a role in a Shenandoah
Just one rugged, wild, favorite example: An initial round
National Park experience a few decades hence, when on a of funding for West Virginia's Monongahela National Forfamily trip to Doyles River Cabin, I seemed to be the only est includes money for improvements or replacements to
one who couldn't quite get to sleep for fear a mouse was bridges in the Cranberry and Dolly Sods Wilderness Areas,
going to walk along over my hand or my head. My par- two of my mother's favorite hiking areas.
ents were both big fans of Doyles River, and the day-time
One way to plan to celebrate is via a new national day:
parts of that trip-when our sons were young and newly Great American Outdoors day, now annual on August 4,
in love with the woods-were full and memorable.
will offer free admission to all national parks and pubI should say that I also have a boatload of positive na- lic lands. That's a Wednesday this year, and I'm going to
tional park memories as well, including great stays-with- turn in for PTO here in the next few minutes, to make
hikes and Shenandoah National's iconic Big Meadows sure The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All and I spend the
and Skyland lodges and hiking-with-my-honey all the day in one of our national treasures.
the Appalachian Trail miles in both the Shenandoah and
We hope you'll join us not only on that day, but also
Blue Ridge Parkway corridors.
in the perspective that there are not many better ways to
We're taking a good chunk of this issue to provide a spend a day than out upon this land that is our land.

6

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

DNC PARKS & RESORTS AT SHENANDOAH, INC.

As our travel comfort returns and our
national treasures begin to benefit from
funding from the Great American
Outdoors Act, let's go play!


http://www.BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021

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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021 - BRPG1
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