Shenandoah: Old Rag Mountain

Shenandoah National Park spans 200,000 acres of breathtaking wilderness—rolling mountains, serene forests and tranquil hollows. It’s a paradise for hikers.

The crown jewel of the park is Old Rag Mountain, the most popular—and most challenging—hike in Shenandoah.

This 9-mile loop climbs more than 2,400 feet, includes a strenuous rock scramble and typically takes seven to eight hours to complete. Nearly 80,000 people visit the trailhead of Old Rag every year—including many students from nearby University of Virginia, where it appears on the before-you-graduate bucket list.

From March 1 to November 30, visitors to Old Rag Mountain need a day-use ticket in addition to a Park entrance pass. Learn more and get your day-use ticket here and your park pass here.

Visit our Shenandoah Park page to see videos and learn more about the park.

If you want to try some of the other hiking trails in Shenandoah, read about Kevin Morgan’s Shenandoah 52 hiking challenge, and watch his videos on the 52 hikes.

 

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Congaree: Synchronous Fireflies

For two weeks between mid-May and mid-June, the forest of Congaree National Park in South Carolina comes alive with the pulsating lights of fireflies, specifically the species Photuris frontalis. These unique fireflies synchronize their bioluminescent flashes as they search for mates.

To protect this critical habitat, Congaree National Park implements a lottery system for entry during the viewing event. Passes are required and awarded through Recreation.gov. Gates open at 7 pm, and the show begins after dark, usually between 9 pm and 10 pm.

The lottery will be live from 10 am EDT on Thursday, April 4, until 10 am EDT Wednesday, April 10.

Lottery entries are limited to one per household. All lottery entrants will pay a $1 non-refundable service charge. Only those who are awarded passes will be required to pay the remaining $24 event fee.

For more information on this event, check the park website.

Learn more about Congaree from Parks Channel creators, and why the fireflies synchronize from National Park Diaries.

 

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Zion: Angel's Landing

Angels Landing in Zion National Park is an iconic, thrilling hike renowned for its breathtaking views. The challenging trail ascends through narrow cliffside paths and steep switchbacks, culminating in a spine-tingling final ascent aided by chains. The reward at the summit is a panoramic vista of Zion Canyon.

The summer lottery is open between April 1- 20 for travel June 1 – August 31.

Learn more and enter the lottery.

Other lottery dates:

Fall: lottery open July 1-20 for travel September 1 – November 30, 2024

Winter: lottery open October 1-20 for travel December 1, 2024 – February 28, 2025

Our creators have lots of tips on hiking Angels Landing and planning a trip to Zion.

Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024

A total Solar Eclipse will be visible in the USA on April 8, 2024. You won’t need a reservation, but you’ll want to plan ahead.

Nearly 32 million people live in the path of totality for this eclipse, but millions of other folks will be hitting the road to get a glimpse of the eclipse as it makes its way from Texas northeast to Maine and beyond. The next total solar eclipse won’t occur until August 2044, and it will not have as broad a reach across the U.S.

There are some great explainers on line, including from NASA and the Washington Post. Parks Channel creator Ari of Trekers gives some great tips on how to survive your eclipse-viewing trip.

And if you want commemorative artwork from some of the locations in the path of the eclipse, Anderson Design Group has you covered.

Anderson Design Group's artwork commemorating the April 8, 2024 total Solar Eclipse

Top photo of Rob Lorenz viewing the May 20, 2012, eclipse at Arches National Park by Neal Herbert, NPS.