Not that there is any extra incentive needed to stay overnight in Shenandoah National Park, but there is something special this year travelers ought to know: August 24, 2019 is the 80th anniversary of Big Meadows Lodge, and a full slate of special events—running all season– will celebrate that historic opening. In addition to the anniversary, visitors to the Park can also take advantage of astronomy events, special culinary and wine packages, live entertainment, massages, pizza delivery and a host of other alluring diversions. All this, surrounded by the natural beauty of this iconic national park.
Big Meadows, and all the concessions in Shenandoah National Park (lodges, waysides, restaurants, gas station, etc.), are operated by Delaware North, the contracted concessionaire, now in a 10-year partnership with the National Park Service. We got in touch with Delaware North’s Pam Wightman, General Manager of Big Meadows Lodge/Lewis Mountain Cabins, and asked for more details on the coming season.
SVTA: What special events are planned for the 80th anniversary of Big Meadows Lodge?
Wightman: “Associates will be in clothing reprentative of the era, music from the era will be streamed throughout the Lodge, and we’ll play black and white movies that aired in 1939 such as Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and Stagecoach. We will have swing dance lessons and dances. We will be showcasing food items–like a five cent lemonade stand, and 25 cent popcorn at the free movies each month. There will be a museum wall that allows folks to see what was happening in 1939 along with memorabilia from the period.
“There will also be different selfie spots featured each month” Wightman continued. “In May it’s swing dancers that they can put their face in for a fun photo op. We will also have 1939 automobiles in front of the Lodge during different times, so that guests can take a look at them and get a few great photos as well. Big Meadows Lodge opens May 8th, and these activities will go on all season.”
SVTA: Have any recent renovations been done to the Lodge?
Wightman: “A new roof is underway–we’ve repaired all the chimneys after the historians evaluated and gave us the proper ‘original way to repair.’ We are working to put the tap room floor back to original and we’ve pulled up carpet in six suites to display the beautiful original wood floors. We even found four fireplaces in the walls that no one was aware of. We’ll be displaying them in the four rooms in our Pinnacle building.”
SVTA: A quick look at your calendar shows clogging, wine-tasting, astronomy events and many other engaging activities. What else will visitors want to know about?
Wightman: “We will have massages and pizza delivery in guest rooms available for the first time. We’ll have a farmer’s market on Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day where we offer local veggies and vendors — and it’s the only time you can get three special dogs to eat—‘Lodge Dog, Rapidan Dog and the Hoover Dog.’ We have a daily activity for all ages that includes movies, crafts and scavenger hunts, and we’ll be offering new music that is all 30’s and 40’s themed, along with a new electronic dart board in the tap room and trivia games. We’ll also be holding astronomy events like a three-day Night Skies festival August 9 thru 11 at the Lodge.
“Beyond that, we’ll be offering DVD player rentals and a wide range of videos, since most of our rooms do not have televisions. And we do a ‘Yappy Hour’ day on the Terrace where guests can dine with their dogs and the dogs have a special menu they can order from, as well.”
SVTA: What’s the single most important thing you want people to know about Big Meadows Lodge?
Wightman: “We are a family friendly Lodge (and love dogs, too). We want to offer our guests fun entertainment after they spend a beautiful day in the park.”
Spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley characterize a stay at Big Meadows. Accommodations range from main lodge rooms to detached small, rustic cabins to comfortable traditional and preferred rooms which are located within walking distance of the main lodge building. The original lodge was built with stones cut from the Massanutten Mountain and the entire interior structure of the lodge, including the paneling, is made from native chestnut trees, which today are virtually extinct. The lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Getting There and Making a Reservation
Shenandoah National Park is about 75 miles west of Washington, DC. There are four places to enter the park: Front Royal at U.S 340, Thornton Gap at U.S. 211, Swift Run Gap at U.S. 33, and Rockfish Gap at I-64 and U.S. 250 (also the northern entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway).
The entrance fee to Shenandoah National Park is $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle and $15 per person. These fees are good for seven days. An annual park pass will cost $55. Big Meadows Lodge is at MP 51 on Skyline Drive, and it is just one lodging option. Other accommodations like Skyland and Lewis Mountain Cabins, as well as several campgrounds, may have different dates. To explore more lodging options, activities and events, dining specials and more, click here.
BOOK YOUR RESERVATION ONLINE or call 877-847-1919. Military and mid-week discounts may be available.
Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation