2019 First Day Hikers

Join the Friends of Shenandoah River State Park for this annual tradition. We will start the year off right by taking a half mile hike on the Overlook Trail. This is an easy hike with gorgeous views of the river. Longer hikes are available. Children and leashed pets are welcome! Parking fees are waived for the day.

Over 200 two-legged, and dozens of four-legged, hikers joined to celebrate the New Year in 2019. That was the largest ever 1st day group at Shenandoah – help us with a new record in 2020. There will be cider, hot chocolate, and other treats provided by the Park’s Friends group.

The Park has over 24 miles of trails available to you. Make that “be healthy” resolution for the whole year – and start by putting January 1, 2020 on your calendars now.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020, 1 PM at the Visitor’s Center.


2019 River Cleanup Crew

A great turnout for our annual South Fork river cleanup on Sunday, September 22 – 37 folks on the river and another half dozen on the land crew.  As usual, we pulled an amazing amount and assortment of trash from the stretch between Indian Hollow bridge and the Park.

A beautiful day to be on the river. This is always a fun event and a chance to really help our environment. Thanks to Front Royal Outdoors and Downriver Canoe Company for use of canoes, thanks to Park staff for hauling everything to the transfer station, and special thanks to all who participated. We’ll be back next September – those canoes are waiting.


It was a GREAT two weeks and Shenandoah River State Park has two new teams of Junior Rangers. We kicked off learning about pollination and pollinators, especially bees. A visit to the Parks new 1 acre pollinator meadow and bee habitat allowed some close up study.

A big treat was a visit to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center where we got to see what a fantastic job they do with rehabilitation of injured animals. It was the first time most of our campers had been to the new facility.

A highlight every year is our float down the South Fork learning and having fun. Due to slightly high water, the first week we went in rafts. The second week we returned to tubing.

Graduation day was filled with Ranger Megan’s great presentation on snakes and sessions on Leave No Trace, both of which the campers really got into.

The Junior Ranger Day Camp is sponsored jointly by the Park and it’s Friends group. The Park also has a self-guided program where pre-teens can become Junior Rangers. Just ask at the Visitor’s Center. We are looking forward to next years camp and hope you will join us. Check back here in the spring for more information.




By Friends President, Richard Fox

The Blue Bell Trail along the river just upstream of the Canoe Landing parking area has been upgraded. The trail has been rerouted a short distance up the hillside from the old trail, which closely followed the small stream coming off the river just above the Canoe Landing. The old trail regularly flooded during heavy rains and high river levels. The new trail will keep hikers high and dry! It’s amazing how much dirt and tree growth was moved while leaving the natural beauty of the area intact. The river bank is still accessible from the new trail, and the old trail now is blended into the wooded area.

Many thanks to Park Rangers Riese Painter and Travis Wyman, as well as the Youth Conservation Corps volunteers, for all their hard work. Come try out the new trail and enjoy one of everyone’s favorite scenic pathways in the Park!

Visitors Center Garden Rehab Off The Ground

Thanks to a new grant from the Garden Club of Virginia, the Park has embarked on a needed rehab of the native plant garden that welcomes visitors. The Park’s Friends group began work on the garden in 2011, shortly after the visitor’s center was opened. Over the years invasive plants have done as they will, additions were made somewhat haphazardly, and maintenance got put off to more pressing projects. By fall of 2018 it was obvious that a major overhaul would be beneficial to all.

Overgrown in 2018

The Garden Club of Warren County, pleased with the ongoing success of the Parks pollinator meadow project, suggested applying for a second grant from the Garden Club of Virginia to get the project moving. The application was filed and in January 2019 the project was approved. Work began almost immediately with pruning and weeding. In May path lighting was upgraded from often-not-working solar to low-voltage LED. In June the stepping stones (a nice natural pathway but more-often-than-not ignored resulting in muddy dirt paths) to the garden’s two Koi viewing benches were replaced with stone dust paths. Park staff has done most of the heavy lifting.

Drew finishes new path

Periodic weeding has continued and in late June an energetic group of young ladies from the Langley School (McLean, VA) kicked off replanting of native perennials and shrubs. More planting days will be scheduled when we see what thrives and what

Langley School helps plant

doesn’t. As funding allows, garden work will also be done at the Park entry station and around the restrooms in the day-use area.

Stay tuned to see the garden grow.


Summer is here and it’s time for another update on the Park pollinator meadow project. As posted earlier, thanks to a grant from the Garden Club of Virginia, and the hard work of a lot of other people, the Park has installed a pollinator meadow on a 1.4 acre plot between the RV camping area and the Park cabins. This gentle hillside contains marginal soil, collected when the cabins were built, which is perfect for wildflowers.

In fall 2018 the meadow was cleared, the trails were rough graded, and a parking area built. Park rangers and volunteers seeded the area and by October seedlings were visible.

As an unexpected but very welcome addition to the project, in March 2019 students from Virginia State University and Wake Forest, as part of the alternative spring break program, spent time making benches and tables for the meadow.

In May the bee habitat was added. Solar powered electric fencing was constructed to keep out bears and two hives were installed. Our beekeeper, Kelly, reports that the bees are happy, healthy, and making honey. Flowers abound and its only the early birds. By fall – wow – come and see! Our upcoming Junior Ranger program will feature a day with the meadow and our pollinators. A pollinator is an animal that fertilizes plants by moving pollen from one flower to another. Insect pollinators include bees, wasps, ants, flies, mosquitoes, butterflies, moths, and beetles. Without pollinators many plants and foods would not exist. Pollinators are critical in the reproduction of many major food crops, including Virginia staples, apples and grapes. Other wildlife like rabbits, turkey, and deer can use the seeds and insects for food and can use the tall grasses for shelter.

The meadow, originally proposed by Park manager Tony Widmer, became possible when the Garden Club of Warren County proposed that the Park apply for a grant from the Garden Club of Virginia, which has accumulated a fund dedicated to projects in Virginia State Parks. With help from the Friends of Shenandoah River State Park, the Beekeepers of the Northern Shenandoah, and Park staff a plan was developed, submitted, and funding was approved.

Stay tuned for more news as the meadow grows.


Do you love the outdoors? Would you like to help preserve our natural environment while doing things you really enjoy?

The Friends of Shenandoah River State Park invites you to share our love of Andy Guest / Shenandoah River State Park.

Each year we spend time improving the park, helping with programs for visitors, and helping to improve the environment. We are always looking for new faces and fresh ideas.

The Park has many great opportunities to help – pick ones you would enjoy. Assist with the Junior Ranger program – conduct trail inspections – help with the annual river cleanup – assist with the Parks wild animal habitat – help develop a river interpretive trail – and many more! If fact, you can probably design your own way to volunteer. Check out opportunities on our Volunteer page. We hope to see you at the park!