Shenandoah National Park Camping in 2024 (+Maps & Tips)

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Shenandoah National Park, located in western Virginia, is one of America’s most iconic National Parks. The Blue Ridge mountains create a stunning backdrop for the incredible Skyline Drive, a 105-mile roadway that runs through Shenandoah National Park. We think the best way to experience everything that Shenandoah has to offer is to spend a few nights in your tent or RV where you’ll experience this beautiful part of the country first hand.

Shenandoah National Park and the surrounding areas have plenty of options for camping from the five campgrounds located within the park to an abundance of backcountry camping options and plenty of nearby campgrounds only a short drive from the National Park.

Keep reading to get all the details to plan your perfect camping trip in Shenandoah National Park.

Sunset in Shenandoah National Park.
Enjoying a stunning sunset from your tent in Shenandoah National Park is an experience not to be missed!

Table of Contents

Campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park

The first step in planning your perfect camping trip in Shenandoah is to first understand a bit about the geography of the park. Shenandoah National Park is over 105 miles long, but quite narrow across. Skyline Drive runs the length or the park and is used to access the majority of campgrounds and trailheads within the park.

As such, most destinations within Shenandoah will have their location given by the mile marker they are located at along Skyline Drive. The mile markers begin at the northern entrance station at Front Royal (mile 0) and finish at mile 105 at the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station located at the southern end of the park.

Tunnel along Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive runs the length of Shenandoah National Park.

In between these two points you’ll have several options for camping within Shenandoah National Park. The five campgrounds within the national park provide plenty of options for everything from RV camping to secluded car camping, while over 500 miles of hiking trails provide endless opportunities for the adventurous to enjoy backcountry camping in Shenandoah.

The map below gives you a general sense of where each of the campgrounds are located in Shenandoah National Park as well as their relation to the surrounding area.

Map of campsites at Shenandoah National Park
Campground options in Shenandoah National Park. Map courtesy of NPS. (Click to enlarge)

All of the campgrounds within Shenandoah National Park are open seasonally beginning in the late-Spring through the late-Fall. This typically means that you can expect campgrounds to open in late-April or early-May and stay open through the end of October or early-November.

You can check the opening and closing dates for all the campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park here. 

More About the Car camping sites in Shenandoah National Park

There are five options for those looking to car camp in Shenandoah National Park. These campgrounds are spread throughout the park and give plenty of options for those looking to explore different areas of Shenandoah. Details for all five campgrounds are below.

#1 Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.1)

  • Address: Skyline Drive, Rileyville, Virginia
  • Number of Sites: 161 individual (up to 6 people) and 3 group sites (up to 25 people)
  • Mile marker: 22.1
  • Fee: $15/night for individual sites, $50/night for group sites
  • RVs: Yes. No electric or water hookups available.
  • Amenities: Amphitheater, recycling station, firewood
  • Pros: Quick access to a lot of trails, can be very quiet
  • Cons: No cell phone service or internet connection, no camp store, no full hook-ups for RVs
  • Nearby attractions: Trails such as Traces, Weddlewood, and Matthews Arm
  • Season: Open from spring to fall, closed during the winter
  • Reservation: Highly recommended here
    More Information

The Mathews Arm Campground is the most northern campground in Shenandoah National Park, just 22.1 miles from the Front Royal Entrance Station. This is a great place to spend the night before visiting Overall Run Falls, as the campground is short distance from the main trail leading to this spectacular waterfall.

Matthews Arms has 161 individual campsites which can accommodate up to 6 people and two cars in addition to three group sites, which can accommodate up to 25 people each. The campground has a significant number of campsites that are first-come, first-first served, making this a great option for those without reservations.

View a map of the Mathews Arm Campground here. 

The campground has five public restrooms, plenty of potable water spigots, utility sinks for cleaning up, and an RV dump station. The Traces Trail can be accessed directly from the campground, making for a lovely walk directly from your campsite.

Mountain view in Shenandoah National Park
Mathews Arm Campground makes a perfect jumping off point for exploring Shenandoah. Photo credit NPS/N. Lewis

#2 Big Meadows Campground (mile 51.2)

  • Address: Skyline Drive, Stanley, Virginia
  • Number of Sites: 222 individual (up to 6 people) and 2 group sites (up to 15 people)
  • Mile marker: 51.2
  • Fee: $20/night for individual sites, $45/night for group sites
  • RVs: Yes. There is a dump station, but no electric or water hookups available.
  • Amenities: Camp store, firewood, laundry
  • Pros: Huge campground with plenty of amenities
  • Cons: Potable water not available all year round, no internet or cell phone service
  • Nearby attractions: Different trails, creeks, spots, and falls
  • Season: Open from spring to fall, closed during the winter
  • Reservation: Required here

More Information

Sign for Big Meadows campground in Shenandoah National Park

The Big Meadows Campground is centrally located in Shenandoah National Park, and is located at mile marker 51.2. The campground is well situated and makes for a perfect place to camp before visiting Dark Hollow Falls, Lewis Falls, or the Fisher’s Gap overlook. The Appalachian Trail pass just north of the campground, so you can expect to see a few through hikers!

Big Meadows has 222 individual campsites and 2 group sites, which can accommodate up to 15 people. Most of the campgrounds at Big Meadows require a reservation, although there are still several that are always available on a first-come, first served basis. Big Meadows Campground also has a number of ‘walk-in’ campsites where you’ll park your car and then carry your camping gear to your site. These offer a bit more privacy and are a great option for those looking for more solitude and a true wilderness experience.

View a map of the Big Meadows Campground here. 

The campground has nine restrooms, plenty of water spigots, showers, laundry, firewood for sale, and an ice machine. There is also a dump station for those traveling in an RV.

Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park
Dark Hollow Falls is a short distance from the Big Meadows Campground. Photo credit NPS/N. Lewis

#3 Lewis Mountain Campground (mile 57.5)

  • Address: Skyline Drive, Stanardsville, Virginia
  • Number of Sites: 30 individual sites
    Mile marker: 57.5
    Fee: $15/night
    RVs: Yes. No dump station, water or electric hookups available.
  • Amenities: Camp store, firewood, ice, food storage lockers, picnic area
  • Pros: Relatively small site perfect for more privacy, easily accessible from the road
  • Cons: Can be far from popular spots, close proximity to other campers who might be noisy
  • Nearby attractions: Lewis Mountain, Bearfence Mountain
  • Season: Open from spring to fall, closed during the winter
  • Reservation: No reservations; first-come, first-served basis

More Information

Lewis Mountain Campground is the smallest campground in Shenandoah National Park, and is located just off the Appalachian Trail at mile marker 57.5. The campground is well located for those looking to do a bit of hiking on the AT, hiking to South River Falls, or visiting the ruins of the Upper Pocosin Mission.

View a map of the Lewis Mountain Campground here. 

Lewis Mountain Campground only has 30 campsites, and they are spaced relatively close together. This can cause the campground to feel a bit noisy and crowded despite its small size. Facilities include restrooms, water spigots, showers, firewood for sale, and an ice machine. There is no dump station available for RVs.

#4 Loft Mountain Campground (mile 79.5)

  • Address: Loft Mountain Road, Crozet, Virginia
  • Number of Sites: 207 individual sites
  • Mile marker: 79.5
  • Fee: $15/night
  • RVs: Yes. There is a dump station, but no electric or water hookups available.
  • Amenities: Camp store, trash station, firewood, ice
  • Pros: Plenty of sites to choose from, great views, access to trails
  • Cons: No electric and water hookups, limited accessibility options
  • Nearby attractions: Doyles River and Falls, trails such as Patterson Ridge and Big Run Loop
  • Season: Open from late spring to fall, closed during the winter
  • Reservation: Highly recommended here

More Information

The Loft Mountain Campground is perennially a favorite among campers in Shenandoah National Park. Although one of the largest in the park many of the campsites feel very private and the views looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains are truly spectacular! The site is located at mile marker 79.5, making it a great option for those coming from the southern entrance station at Rockfish Gap.

View a map of the Loft Mountain Campground here. 

Loft Mountain features 207 campsites, most of which are available on a first-come, first served basis. The campground has five restrooms, which can feel a bit crowded given the size of the campground, plenty of water spigots, showers, and a camp store selling essentials. The edges of the campground feature several tent only campsites which are a good option to get a bit more privacy. Nearby hikes include the Blackrock Summit hike and Doyles River Falls.

Loft Mountain makes the perfect campground if you plan on visiting Doyles River Falls. Photo credit NPS.

Given the popularity of the Loft Mountain Campground, reservations are recommended during peak summer weekends. If you don’t have a reservation be sure to arrive as early as possible to give yourself the best change to secure a campsite.

#5 Dundo Group Campground (mile 83.7)

  • Address: Skyline Drive, Crozet, Virginia
  • Number of Sites: 3 group sites (up to 20 people)
  • Mile marker: 83.7
  • Fee: $45/night
  • RVs: Not permitted.
  • Amenities: Trash collection and food storage lockers
  • Pros: Best for groups, can be rather intimate
  • Cons: Only three sites, no potable water, no camp store, no cell phone service
  • Nearby attractions: Dundo Overlook, Big Run Overlook, Blackrock Summit
  • Season: Open from late spring to fall, closed during the winter
  • Reservation: Highly recommended here

More Information

The Dundo Group Campground in Shenandoah National Park is exclusively for groups, with each of the three campsites accommodating between 7-20 people. Although a group campground, the fact that there are only three campsites makes this a pleasant place to spend the night. The campground is located at mile 83.7 and is close to many of the highlights of the southern section of Shenandoah such as Blackrock Summit and Sawmill Run Overlook.

View a map of the Dundo Group Campground here. 

Given that there are only three campsites and the Dundo Group Campground, all sites must be reserved in advance.

It is also important to note that there are no RVs allowed at Dundo, so if you’re traveling in your RV you’ll need to camp at one of the other campgrounds in Shenandoah.

Fire pit at a campground in Shenandoah National Park

Tips for Choosing the Right Campground for Your Needs

While exploring the length of Shenandoah, there are many different potential options for your accommodation! 

Choosing the right campground can be overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you decide:

#1 Location

Shenandoah National Park runs from north to south. If you’re interested in the northern section of the park, choose a campground like Mathews Arm or Big Meadows. 

However, if you prefer to explore the southern section, Loft Mountain or Lewis Mountain are hard to beat1

#2 Budget

Working with a tight budget? Consider backcountry camping in Shenandoah! 

Luckily for you, the national park has some of the lowest fees when it comes to primitive forms of camping. While permits are still required, you can often find many of these for free.

#3 Activities

Some campgrounds offer greater access to certain activities. 

For example, if you’re looking to cool off, the Big Meadows Campground is located near several popular swimming holes including the Big Meadows Swimming Pool.

Interested in remote climbing instead? Shenandoah National Park’s backcountry camping offers the best places to scale heights, such as near Old Rag Mountain!

Reservations of the Campgrounds

Reservations for campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park are only required for the Dundo Group Campground. However, we highly recommend making reservations for any of the campgrounds you hope to stay at during the peak summer season, and especially on weekends. The exception to this is the Lewis Mountain Campground, which does not accept reservations.

To make a reservation for the Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, Loft Mountain, or Dundo Group Campgrounds you’ll need to visit the website, which manages campground reservations for the National Park Service.

Reservations for Shenandoah National Park Campgrounds can be made here via

It is important to know that even if you don’t have a reservation in peak season you can still find a campground in Shenandoah. All of the campgrounds within the national park (with the exception of the Dundo Group Campground) have a small number of first come, first served campsites available. These can be a lifesaver when you plan a last minute camping trip to Shenandoah!

Shenandoah National Park camping
You’ll be glad to made a reservation if you’re hoping to camp in peak season in Shenandoah.

Backcountry campsites in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a backcountry campers’ dream. The park features over 500 miles of trails that wind their way through out this stunning landscape and provide countless options for your perfect backpacking trip. However, there are some rules and regulations you’ll need to keep in mind as you plan your backcountry camping trip in Shenandoah National Park, outlined below.

Hiking trail in Shenandoah National Park
Backcountry camping is an incredible way to experience Shenandoah National Park.

Backcountry Camping Permits

All backcountry campers in Shenandoah National Park are required to obtain a free permit before starting their trip. This can be done at one of the eight self-registration stations conveniently located throughout the park. You can also obtain a permit through the National Park Service’s online permit system for Shenandoah, accessible here.

Regardless of where you obtain your permit, you’ll need to have the following details:

  • Trip leader’s name and contact information
  • The itinerary including planned stopping points for each day
  • Number of people in your group
  • Number of nights at each campsite
  • Planned start and finish date

Where to camp in the Shenandoah backcountry

Unlike many National Parks, Shenandoah does not have designated backcountry campsites. Rather, the NPS recommends that backcountry hikers camp at obvious campsites which have been developed by previous users. These should be fairly obvious on the trail as you’ll generally be able to see where tents have been placed, logs arranged for seating, etc.

Regardless of where you decide to pitch your tent you’ll need to be at least 1/4 mile from the nearest road,  and avoid close proximity to water sources, other campers, structures, and trails.

You can view all of the backcountry campsite regulations for Shenandoah National Park here.

In addition to mapping out a successful itinerary it is imperative to carry a detailed map and know how to navigate utilizing a map and compass. We highly recommend bringing a copy of the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Topo Map for Shenandoah National Park on any backpacking trip in Shenandoah.

Additionally, trekkers need to be prepared to treat their own water. We recommend bringing a small, packable filter like the Sawyer Squeeze.

River in the Shenandoah backcountry
Be sure to treat the water in Shenandoah National Park.

Planning your Itinerary

The expansive trail network in Shenandoah can make planning a backcountry camping trip seem a bit overwhelming. If you’re not familiar with the National Park it can be difficult to know how to start even thinking about what a good itinerary might be. Luckily, the National Park Service has put together comprehensive list of backcountry camping itineraries in Shenandoah. Check it out below.

Check out a comprehensive list of backcountry camping itineraries in Shenandoah here. 

Leave No Trace

Given the sensitive ecosystem of Shenandoah National Park it is essential that you practice Leave No Trace principles when backpacking in the National Park. This includes packing out all of your own trash and property disposing of your waste. Fires are not permitted in the backcountry. 

Properly storing your food is also essential as bears and other wildlife are common throughout the National Park. We recommend bringing a bear canister for any trip into the backcountry.

Black bear in Shenandoah.
Be sure to properly store your food when backpacking in Shenandoah!

Camping Options near Shenandoah National Park

Given the popularity and scarcity of options, it is always possible that you won’t be able to find a campground within Shenandoah National Park. However, don’t give up as there are plentiful camping options just outside the National Park boundary! Check out your best options below:

RV campgrounds near Shenandoah National Park

Those camping in an RV will have plenty of options just outside Shenandoah National Park. The best option for you will depend on which section of the park you’re planning to explore, and we’ve provided RV campgrounds near the northern, central, and southern sections of Shenandoah below.

#1 Twin Rivers Campground – Northern section

  • Number of sites: Plenty!
  • Fee: $40 – $45/night depending on electricity hookup size.
  • Capacity: Prices are for two people. Extra guests are $5/night. Kids 16 and under free
  • RVs: Yes
  • Reservations: Required. Visit website here or call (540) 636-6192
  • Pets: Allowed

More Information

Twin Rivers Campground is located north of Shenandoah in Front Royal, VA. A short drive from the Front Royal Entrance Station, this is the perfect place to camp if you’re looking to explore the northern section of the park. The campground features electricity hookups at every site, and river front access to the Shenandoah River.

#2 Luray KOA Campground – Middle section

  • Number of sites: Plenty!
  • Fee: Varies depending on size of RV and hookups required.
  • Capacity: No stated limit.
  • RVs: Yes, up to 70′.
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Pets: Allowed

More Information

The KOA Luray Campground is located just north of the town of Luray, VA. From here, it is an approximate 20 minute drive to the Thornton Gap Entrance Station. The Luray KOA can accommodate RVs up to 70′ in length and provides guests with access to WiFi, a dog park, snack bar, and pool.

#3 Misty Mountain Camp Resort – Southern section

  • Number of sites: Plenty!
  • Fee: $70 – $85/night
  • Capacity: None stated
  • RVs: Yes
  • Reservations: Recommended. Visit website here.
  • Pets: Allowed

More Information

Misty Mountain Camp Report is located south of Shenandoah National Park in Greenwood, VA. The campground is located just 10 minutes from the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station, providing excellent access to the southern section of Shenandoah. Misty Mountain can accommodate all types of RVs and also has tent sites and cabin rentals. Guests staying at the RV campground get access to tons of amenities including WiFi, a swimming pool, fishing pond, and multiple playgrounds. See their full list of amenities here.

RVs near Shenandoah National Park
There are plenty of RV campgrounds near Shenandoah National Park.

Car camping sites near Shenandoah National Park

If you’re looking for car camping sites near Shenandoah National Park you’ll have a few good options to choose from. In addition to the campgrounds listed below, car camping is permitted and recommend at all of the campgrounds listed in the RV camping section above.  Keep reading below to see what your best bets are for car camping near Shenandoah.

Car camping near Shenandoah National Park.
Car camping near Shenandoah National Park.

#1 Shenandoah River State Park

  • Number of Sites: 71 sites
  • Fee: $25 – $46/night depending on hookups and residency. More info here. 
  • Capacity: 6 people per campsite
  • RVs: Yes, up to 60′
  • Reservations: Recommended. Half of the site are also available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Pets: Allowed

More Information

Shenandoah River State Park is a true gem that offers abundant camping options just outside of the National Park. This campground is perfect for those looking to avoid the feel of an RV park and also gives access to the beautiful Shenandoah River. The campground is open year round and offers sites with electric and water hookups, tent-only sites, restrooms with showers, and each site also features a fire ring.

This is a great campground for those traveling with their family.

#2 Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground

  • Number of Sites: 35 sites
  • Fee: $16/night
  • Capacity: None stated
  • RVs: Yes
  • Reservations: All sites are first-come, first served
  • Pets: Allowed

More Information

The Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground is located near the northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park in the adjacent George Washington National Forest. The campground features 35 sites that can accommodate tents and smaller RVs. All of the campsites are first-come, first-served, so be sure to get there early in the day if you’re hoping to snag a spot.

The campground features vault-toilets (flush toilets and showers available during warmer months) and a water source. Alcoholic drinks are prohibited at this family campground.

Dispersed campsites near Shenandoah National Park

Your final option for camping near Shenandoah National Park is to find a free, dispersed campsite in the adjacent George Washington National Forest. This national forest is overseen by the Forest Service/BLM which manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public land throughout the country and generally allows for ‘dispersed camping’ on it. You can find more information on dispersed camping on BLM land here.

Dispersed camping near Shenandoah National Park
There are some fantastic dispersed campsites just outside of Shenandoah National Park.

#1 Crisman Hollow Dispersed Camping

Located to the west of Luray, Crisman Hollow Road (also known as Forest Service Road 724) offers some excellent dispersed camping in George Washington National Forest. Many of the campsites are located along Passage Creek and have fire rings.

The campsites are located near the Scothorn Gap Trail and directions can be found here. also has good information on Crisman Hollow Dispersed Camping.

#2 Slate Lick Fields Dispersed Camping

Located north-west of Harrisonburg, VA the Slate Lick Fields offer great dispersed camping near Shenandoah National Park. The campsites are located along Hog Pen Road and directions can be found here. Keep in mind there is not a good water source here, so you’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water with you.

BLM regulations on dispersed camping allow you to camp for up to 14 days in a 28 day period, so be sure to observe that limit at both of the sites above.

It is especially important to practice Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping.

Best Time to Camp in Shenandoah National Park

Camping in the Shenandoah National Park is beautiful all year round! Each season has its own flare, so it’s really up to what vibe you’re looking for:

Spring (March to May)

  • Wildflowers begin to flourish 
  • Cool to warm temperatures 
  • Full water flows
  • Active wildlife, including bears and deer 

Summer (June to August)

  • Warmest weather, ideal for swimming in water holes 
  • Longer days, ideal for hiking 
  • Highest popularity, so make reservations months in advance 

Fall (September to November)

  • Beautiful colors such as dramatic oranges
  • Fewer people 

Winter (November to February):

  • Solitude — As winter is by far the least populated season, you’re in for a peaceful experience
  • Risk of snowfall 
  • Reduced services with most facilities and campgrounds closed
  • Free camping in Shenandoah National Park is still available with backcountry camping

Activities You Can Do at Shenandoah National Park

Once you’ve picked your season and campground, it’s time to start planning your itinerary! What activities are available to you at the park? Check these out:

#1 Hiking

With over 500 miles of hiking trails with varying difficulty levels, hiking in the Shenandoah National Park is a must-do activity. 

Hands down, hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the scenery here! Some of the most popular trails include Old Rag, White Oak Canyon, and Hawksbill Summit. 

#2 Scenic Drives

If you’re someone who loves driving, the Shenandoah National Park is for you. The Skyline Drive runs 105 miles across the length of the park and provides marvelous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s also a great way to steer clear of the bears!

#3 Rock Climbing

Rock climbers can enjoy challenging climbing routes at Shenandoah National Park. If you’re a climber, make sure to secure the right permits first!

#4 Swimming

If you’re heading to Shenandoah National Park, remember your swimwear! The park has a number of swimming holes and streams which provide a great way to cool off in the summer. 

White Oak Canyon and South River Falls are a couple of the all-time favorite swimming spots!

Packing Essentials for Camping in Shenandoah National Park

Preparing for your Shenandoah National Park camping trip involves more than deciding which campground best fits your needs. There is also the important job of making sure you have all the right gear you’ll need to ensure a great trip.

We’re sure you’ll already have the essentials like a great tentsleeping bags, and camp chairs, but below are some of our favorite items specifically for camping in Shenandoah:

  • Coleman Camping Stove – This camping classic is perfect for whipping up classic campsite dinners.
  • Tick and insect repellent – Shenandoah has plenty of pesky insects such as ticks! Keep yourself comfortable and safe from potential diseases with a handy can of repellent or two
  • Portable water container – Save yourself the countless trips to the water tap and bring one of these.
  • Cooler – The hot summer temperatures make a good cooler essential. We can’t recommend Yeti enough!
  • Shenandoah National Park Map – An essential for any trip, a good map is a must.
  • Shenandoah Guidebook – A good guidebook will provide insights and information to help you plan your perfect trip to Shenandoah. We like this hiking guide from Falcon Guides.
  • Bear-resistant food storage container – Shenandoah is home to many bears, and the scent of your food might just unwittingly lure them in. Keep yourself safe with some bear-resistant food containers.
  • GPS device – A handy GPS device will help you navigate the terrain and ensure you get to your destination safely. Make sure to carry one (and some spare batteries) around!
  • Binoculars for wildlife and scenic views. National parks are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, and Shenandoah is no exception. Bring a pair of binoculars and admire the animals (and the views) from afar
  • First aid kit. Who knows when medical emergencies will happen? With a first aid kit, you can quickly address shallow cuts, fevers, and more
  • Garbage bag. Leave no trace! It’s important to take all your trash with you when you leave, so having plenty of garbage bags is a must.

Things to Know When Camping in Shenandoah National Park

The following sections contain all the basic information you need to ensure you have a great time camping in Shenandoah National Park.

Campfires in Shenandoah

Fires are generally allowed at each of the five campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park. The fire must be contained within the provided fire pit/grate and should not be left unattended. It is also important to ensure that any wood you bring into the park is properly sourced, as firewood can introduce invasive pests that can cause irreparable damage.

Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry of Shenandoah, so if you’re planning a backpacking trip be sure to bring a camp stove.

Campfire in Shenandoah National Park


A wide variety of wildlife calls Shenandoah National Park home. For campers in the park there are a few you’ll want to be especially aware of. These include:

  • Black bears: Be sure to properly store your food in either the park provided bear bins or in a bear canister. This is especially important for backcountry campers in Shenandoah.
  • Snakes: Shenandoah is home to a diversity of snake species. Most of these are non-venomous and all of them are likely to try and avoid contact with visitors. However, there are several venomous snakes including timber rattlesnakes in the park. Be aware of your surroundings and always keep an eye out!
  • Birds: The stunning landscapes of Shenandoah make a perfect habitat for several species of birds to thrive. Keep an eye out for the stunning peregrine falcon and the elusive scarlet tanager.

For those camping, you’ll primarily want to be vigilant about keeping food properly stored and keeping a close eye out for snakes.

Bear in Shenandoah National park.
A black bear in Shenandoah. Photo courtesy of NPS.


If you’ve spent much time in National Parks you’ll know that pets are typically not permitted on any of the trails. Shenandoah is one of the few exceptions, and you are welcome to bring your pets along on your Shenandoah National Park camping trip. 

Pets are permitted in all of the campgrounds within the park, as well as on backcountry camping trips. However, there are several trails where pets are not allowed, and the National Park Services lists those here.

If you do plan to bring your pet on a camping trip in Shenandoah, keep these regulations in mind:

  • Pets must be on a leash at all time. This includes at the campgrounds.
  • Please pick up your pet waste. Do not bag it and leave it on the side of the trail.
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles.

Where to get supplies

Given the length of Shenandoah National Park the best place to get camping supplies is highly dependent on where in the park you are camping. Our recommendations for each section are listed below:

  • Northern section (Matthews Arm Campground)
    • Front Royal, Virginia: The northern gateway town to Shenandoah, Front Royal has all the essentials you’ll need to stock up for your camping trip including a grocery store, outdoor store, liquor store, and gas stations.
    • Elkwallow Wayside: This small eatery is located at mile 24.1 on Skyline Drive. You’ll be able to pick up some basic groceries, camping supplies, and even takeout food here.
  • Middle section (Big Meadows Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground)
    • Luray, Virginia: Luray is smaller than some of the other towns near Shenandoah, but you’ll still find a grocery store, gas station, and outdoor store.
    • Big Meadows Wayside: Larger than Elkwallow Wayside, Big Meadows (mile 51.2) stocks basic groceries, camping and hiking supplies, has a small restaurant, and also sells gas and diesel.
  • Southern section (Loft Mountain Campground, Dundo Group Campground)
    • Waynesboro, Virginia: Waynesboro is near the southern entrance to Shenandoah and has gas stations, groceries stores, and an outdoor shop.
    • Loft Mountain Wayside: Similar to the other options in the park, you’ll be able to get simple groceries, some camping essentials, in addition to the small restaurant on site.
Big Meadows Wayside in Shenandoah National Park
Big Meadows Wayside is a perfect place to pick up a few essentials for your Shenandoah camping trip. Photo courtesy of NPS.

Tips for Successful Camping in Shenandoah National Park

Here are few tips while camping in Shenandoah National Park:

  • Obtain a permit. All backcountry campers will need to attain a free backcountry camping permit
  • Observe “Leave No Trace” principles. Respect the beauty of the park by taking all your trash with you. Also, remember that fires are not permitted in many areas, especially in the backcountry. 
  • Avoid wildlife encounters. If you see a bear, make sure to remain quiet, avoid eye contact, and back away slowly. To steer clear of snakes, stay on the main paths and wear closed shoes! Be especially careful if you’re a backcountry camper in Shenandoah.

FAQs on Shenandoah National Park Camping

Where is the best place to camp in Shenandoah National Park?

Although all five campgrounds provide their own unique perks, the Loft Mountain Campground is a very popular choice. 

Situated at a higher elevation, it provides beautiful views of the Shenandoah Valley while also possessing plenty of amenities. And if nothing else, at least you’ll be in the company of many fellow campers!

Can I camp anywhere in Shenandoah National Park?

No, camping is only allowed in designated campgrounds and backcountry areas. To protect the park’s natural resources, dispersed camping is prohibited. 

If you want a primitive experience while being close to nature, backcountry camping is your best bet!

How much does it cost to camp at Shenandoah?

At most of the sites, individual RV and tent sites are $30 per night. At the Dundo Group Campground, the cost is $75 per night for one non-electronic site that can accommodate up to 20 people.

Are there bears in Shenandoah National Park?

Yes. Shenandoah National Park is teeming with them! Campers should store all food, including food waste and other scented items, in bear-resistant food storage containers or lockers. 
If you encounter a black bear, back away slowly to maintain a safe distance. Don’t approach!

Have a Great Trip!

That’s it! We hope you’ve found all of the information on camping in Shenandoah National Park in this post helpful and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure! Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or had a great time out camping!

Sunset in Shenandoah

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