Shenandoah National Park Camping

There are four seasonal frontcountry campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park as well as a group campground and the option for backcountry camping.

RV camping is available at Mathews Arm, Big Meadows and Loft Mountain which all have pull-through and deep back-in sites which can handle most RVs and/or a tow vehicle, potable water and dump stations. Lewis Mountain is mostly tent camping but also has RV sites though it does not have a dump station.

The campgrounds normally open in the spring for a time first-come, first-served before most of them become a mix of reservable and first-come, first-served in the summer. They usually close for the year in late October or in the case of Big Meadows, in early/mid-November.

Here are your Shenandoah National Park camping options:

Mathews Arm Campground

Mathews Arm is the nearest campground to the northern park entrance, located at mile 22.1 on Skyline Drive. It has 166 sites for tents, trailers and RVs. Sites are available through reservations as well as first-come, first-served basis. The cost is $15/night. There are three group sites available at $45 a night which can accommodate groups of between 7 and 25 people.

The campground is next to a nature trail and the trail to Overall Run Falls (tallest waterfall in Shenandoah – 93 feet). Elkwallow Wayside has camping supplies and food service two miles away at mile 24 on Skyline Drive.

Big Meadows Campground

This campground in the heart of the national park has over 200 sites that are available through a mix of reservations and first-come, first-served. Laundry, wood, ice and showers are available here. The Meadow as well as three waterfalls are nearby and can be accessed by trails. The Big Meadows Lodge and the Harry F. Byrd Sr Visitor Center are nearby as well, and the AT passes through the campground.

Lewis Mountain Campground

This is the smallest Shenandoah campground with 31 first come, first served campsites. It is located at mile 57.5 on Skyline Drive. The fee is $15 per night for a site. It is primarily for tent camping but there are some RV sites.

There are also rustic furnished cabins at Lewis Mountain. The cabins have private bathrooms, heat, electric lights, towels and linens. They can be reserved online or over the phone.

Loft Mountain Campground

Loft Mountain is located at mile 79.5 on Skyline Drive and has just over 200 sites. 50 of them are tent-only sites. Sites are a mix of reservable and first-come, first-served. The Appalachian Trail passes by the campground. Loft Mountain Wayside has groceries, camping, and hiking supplies, in addition to a mail drop, gift shop and dining room with counter service.

Dundo Group Campground

Dundo is a group campground at milepost 83.7 on Skyline Drive with three group sites. The group sites are for groups with a minimum of seven people and a maximum of 20. The Appalachian Trail runs through the campground. The check-in for the group sites are at Loft Mountain campground, which is around 4 miles north on Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah Backcountry Camping

Shenandoah has over 500 miles of trail and almost 200,000 acres of backcountry / wilderness. Permits for backcountry camping are required but free and are availabe in the park between sunrise and one hour before sunset. They can be obtained during business hours at visitor centers and entrance stations, as well as at self-registration kiosks on the Appalachian Trail near park entry points. If you are planning your trip more than two full weeks in advance, you can also request a permit be sent to you by US mail. A copy of your permit should be affixed to your pack or tent.

There are restrictions on where you can backcountry camp. Among them is to use only campsites that are at least 20 yards from a park trail or unpaved fire road; 10 yards from a stream; 100 yards away from a hut, cabin, or day-use shelter; and a 1/4 mile from any paved road, park boundary, or park facility. It is strongly recommended that you camp at a pre-existing campsite (one established by prior visitor use).

Backcountry camping may not exceed 2 nights in one campsite location or 14 consecutive nights in the backcountry

The maximum group size in the backcountry is 10 individuals. Groups must camp at least 50 yards away from each other.

Be sure to bring appropriate gear including a backpacking stove and proper fuel to cook food (backcountry campfires are not permitted), bear resistant food canisters or another method of food storage, a small trowel to bury human waste, and a mechanism to ensure safe drinking water such as a water bottle and a good water filter / purifier.

Be sure to also review the areas that are closed to backcountry camping including Old Rag Mountain Summit area (above 2800 feet), Hawksbill Moutnain Summit area (above 3600 feet), Big Meadows (the cleared area within view of Skyline Drive), the AT between Hogwallow Flats and Gravel Springs Hut, certain rock outcrops and other areas identified on the park’s backcountry camping regulations page.