National Park Service Ranger Programs

Experience an interactive educational program with a National Park service ranger! Most Saturdays from April through October, stop by the Explore Park Visitor for free hikes or interpretive sessions. For more information about these programs, or to learn more about each week’s topic, please call (540) 427-1800. No advance registration is required for these activities, but an adult must accompany all children. All programs meet at the Visitor Center. All dates and times are subject to change.

A Sorting Ceremony for Animal Lovers Hike: 1.5 miles Level: Moderate
Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours
Have you ever wanted to be sorted into your special house? Do you love animals and want to explore the wonders of their natural habitats? Join a National Park Ranger for a hike that takes you into the magical world of animal life and ends with your very own sorting ceremony. This program is designed for children and their families.

  • Saturday, September 7 - 9:00 AM
  • Saturday, October 5 - 9:00 AM

Wild Things: Reptiles Saturday, September 14 from 1– 3pm  

Spend an afternoon with a National Park Ranger making nature crafts and reading books. One hour program;topics will vary. Check website, social media, or call us for the week’s program details. Indoors at the Visitor Center.

Tiny Things for Tiny Ones Hike
Hike: Up to 1 mile Level: Easy Duration: 1 hour
Take a look at the amazing world of small things we don't always notice. This hike is focused on our youngest participants and their families.

  • Saturday, September 21 - 9:00 AM
  • Saturday, October 19 - 9:00 AM

Challenge Hike
Hike: 3 miles Level: Moderate Duration: 2.5 hours
Challenge your family and yourself by coming on a longer and more strenuous hike with a National Park Ranger. Explore the more remote trails of Explore Park. Meant for older kids and adults. Bring water and snacks and wear closed-toed shoes.

  • Saturday, September 28 - 9:00 AM
  • Saturday, October 26 - 9:00 AM

Star Gazing Program
Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks near Explore Park are some of the best places in our region to observe the night sky! Astronomy enthusiast Michael Overacker will join our National Park Service ranger for an interactive star watching experience. All programs will meet at the Back Creek overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway spur
connecting Milepost 115 with Explore Park

  • Friday, September 27 at 7:30 PM
  • Friday, October 25 at 7:00 PM