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Camping in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah offers a wealth of camping opportunities, from backcountry sites and huts along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to family friendly campgrounds.

There are four campgrounds in Shenandoah, all located along the Skyline Drive. The Mathews Arm Campground can be found at Milepost 22.1, Big Meadows at Milepost 51.2, Lewis Mountain at Milepost 57.5, and Loft Mountain at Milepost 79.5.

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A campground in Shenandoah, NPS photo.

Camping reservations can be made at for Big Meadows, Loft Mountain, and Mathews Arm campgrounds. Loft Mountain and Mathews Arm campgrounds have approximately 20 percent of their sites available by reservation and 80 percent available as first-come, first-served.

Although Shenandoah doesn't have a campground that is just for RVs, it does have three campgrounds that will accommodate large RVs. Mathews Arm, Big Meadows and Loft Mountain campgrounds all have pull-through and deep back-in sites which most of the time can even handle an RV with a tow vehicle. Although there are no hookups, the campgrounds do have potable water and dump stations.

Mathews Arm Campground

Open mid-May through October

Mathews Arm (mile 22.1) is the nearest campground for those entering the park from the north. It is next to a nature trail and the trail to Overall Run Falls, the tallest waterfall in the park. Elkwallow Wayside, with camping supplies and food service, is two miles away. $15 per night. Generator-free and group sites are available.

Big Meadows Campground

Open late March through November

Big Meadows (mile 51.2), though secluded, is near many of the major facilities and popular hiking trails in the park. Three waterfalls are within walking distance; the Meadow, with its abundant plant growth and wildlife, lies within walking distance. $20 per night when on the reservation system and $17 per night during late spring and early fall. Generator-free and group sites are available.

Lewis Mountain Campground

Open mid-April through October

Lewis Mountain (mile 57.5), the smallest campground in the park, appeals to those who want a little more privacy without venturing deep into the backcountry, yet it is within seven miles of the popular Big Meadows area. 31 sites; $15 per night, first-come, first-served only.

Loft Mountain Campground

Open mid-May through October

Loft Mountain (mile 79.5), the largest campground in the park, sits atop Big Flat Mountain with outstanding views to east and west. Two waterfalls and the trails into the Big Run Wilderness area are nearby. $15 per night. Generator-free and group sites are available.

Backcountry Camping

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There's a surprising amount of designated wilderness in Shenandoah. NPS graphic.

Backcountry camping options abound, whether you're hiking down the A.T., which runs 101 miles through the park, or head down one of the side trails where you pitch your tent pretty much where you want. And with more than 500 miles of trail, and 196,000 acres of backcountry, 80,000 acres of which are federally designated wilderness, you should be able to find some solitude with little effort.

While you do need a free permit, the park does not have a reservation system or designated campsites (the exception being the A.T. huts and overflow campsites for long-distance AT hikers).

The permit can be obtained at visitor contact stations during business hours. Permits for Appalachian Trail long-distance hikers are available by self-registration on the Trail near Shenandoah National Park entry points.

If you are planning your visit well in advance (allow two full weeks), permits are also available by mail from Park Headquarters. You may download a permit application and send it to:

Shenandoah National Park
Backcountry Camping Permit
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East
Luray, VA 22835

or fill out the permit application, then call (540) 999-3500.

To help with your trip planning, be sure to check out Shenandoah's webpage on planning a backcountry trek. Details on the park's backcountry regulations can be found on this page.

Shenandoah National Park

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide