HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Wednesday marks the first day of fall, which kicks off the busiest season of visitation at Shenandoah National Park (SNP). The pandemic drew many new visitors over the last year, and last year’s fall season brought a record number of people to the park. “With the pattern that we’ve seen since the beginning of the year, I expect that we will have a lot of people in the park for the fall,” Allysah Fox, a visual information specialist with SNP, said. With 500 miles of trails in the park, Fox says if visitors see a trailhead that is busy, move on to the next one. “We really suggest going to the southern region of the park, kind of between the Elkton and Waynesboro area. There’s a lot of wilderness there, fewer people, more wildlife, so you can find a lot of trails there where you’re kind of secluded and can have a really good experience,” Fox said. Old Rag and Whiteoak Canyon are two very popular spots for visitors in the fall, especially on the weekends. Fox says you may have a better experience arriving earlier and on a weekday when going to these trailheads. “We also want to make sure we don’t have any risky situations with an increased number of people,” Fox said. “We have to do a lot of rescues on the weekend, so it’s better to go during the week.” October is the busiest month for SNP, and Fox says visitation usually drops in late November. “The days are getting shorter in the fall, so starting a hike earlier in the day is going to be beneficial to you because you won’t be out in the park when the sun is going down, and since the temperatures are dropping, it won’t be as cold if you go during the day.” She advises visitors to plan ahead, check out the Shenandoah National Park website, and download the National Parks Service app on their smartphone. Fox says purchasing a digital pass ahead of time will expedite your entry into the park. You can either screenshot or print out the pass to present to the rangers at the park entrance. You can learn more by clicking here. Consistent with CDC guidance regarding areas of substantial or high transmission, visitors to Shenandoah National Park, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask inside all park buildings.