SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hikers at Shenandoah National Park will have to buy their tickets in a new way this year. The park is revitalizing its Old Rag pilot program on March 1 after last year’s program was cut short by winter storms.

Shenandoah first began the pilot program last year. During the pilot, hikers who used trails in the Old Rag area, which includes Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access, were required to purchase day-use tickets. These tickets were capped at 800 per day.

The goals of the pilot were to test a new type of ticketing system, with goals to improve crowd congestion and protect the natural resources in the Old Rag area.

Park staff gathered data on the program’s effectiveness throughout last year and planned to share their findings in early January. However, the pilot program was cut short due to two winter storms in December that caused widespread damage and closed Skyline Drive. According to Superintendent Pat Kenney, as the park focused on reopening Skyline Drive, park staff did not have enough time to fully evaluate the results of the program.

“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,” Kenney said.

The pilot program will resume on March 1. Starting on this day, a total of 800 daily tickets will be available from March 1 to Nov. 30. Each day, 400 tickets will be available 30 days prior to the date of arrival, and the remaining 400 tickets will be released five days in advance. Hikers must purchase their tickets online before their arrival.

Within the next few months, park staff will share the data they have gathered so far and will also offer and an opportunity for public input.

For more information about the pilot and tickets, click here.