Shenandoah National Park Camping
Shenandoah National Park camping is a great outdoor vacation idea. There are four areas. You can reserve a spot up to six months ahead. Shenandoah’s campground sites that are not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served basis. All sites have a small reasonable charge per night.
The Shenandoah National Park camping areas have sites for families up to six people.
There are also generator-free sites. You may bring pets but they must be leashed. Unfortunately for RVers, there are no RV hookups available.
For backcountry Shenandoah National Park camping you can go just about anywhere in the park.
There are almost 200,000 acres of wilderness open to wilderness backcountry camping. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails to use as you explore this beautiful protected wilderness.
The park has a “leave no trace” policy so make sure you understand what this entails before you come. You need a permit for backcountry camping.
The Shenandoah National Park camping areas are:
Mathews Arms Campground is open mid to late May through October. If you are coming into the park from the north, this is the closest campground. There is easy access to a nature trail and to the tallest waterfall in the park, Overall Run Falls. There are 167 camping sites in Mathews Arms and it is open late May through late October.
Two miles away is the Elkwallow Wayside campstore. The other three campgrounds have a campstore on site.
- Big Meadows Campground is the most secluded of the four. All the major hiking trails and three of the park’s waterfalls are close by. There are 223 camping sites in Big Meadows and it is open late March through late November. Big Meadows is the largest treeless area in the park and is known for its wildflowers and blueberries. It’s about in the middle of the park near the Byrd Visitor Center. Horseback riding is available about 5 miles north at Skyland.
- Lewis Mountain Campground is the smallest of the four campsites and also offers campers the most privacy. It only has 32 sites and it is open mid April through late October. There are trailer sites as well as cabins here.
- Loft Mountain Campground has 202 campsites and is the biggest of the four. It’s located on Big Flat Mountain and is popular with campers for the great views of the park. Big Run Wilderness is nearby and it has hiking trails and a couple waterfalls. This campground is open late May through late October.
Long distance hikers with a backcountry Shenandoah National Park camping permit can use the trailside huts. There are eight of them located along the Appalachian Trail as it winds through the park. They are spaced about eight to fourteen miles apart along the trail. These trailside huts are operated by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.
Camping in Shenandoah National Park is a good vacation idea to enjoy all the outdoor activities of the park. Hiking is the popular and the rangers offer guided hikes. This is a good way to find out about highlights of the park. You can rent a GPS unit from the rangers at Byrd Visitor Center. All the streams in the park are open for swimming and for catch-and-release fishing.
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