Introduction

Welcome to Shenandoah National Park, a nature lover’s paradise nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. With its stunning landscapes, lush forests, and abundant wildlife, Shenandoah National Park offers an unforgettable camping experience for visitors of all ages.

Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a novice camper looking for an adventure, Shenandoah has something to offer everyone. From family-friendly campgrounds to rugged backcountry sites, there are a variety of options to suit your camping preferences.

But with so many choices available, it can be overwhelming to decide which campgrounds to explore. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top camping locations in Shenandoah National Park to help you plan your next outdoor getaway.

From the famous Big Meadows Campground to the secluded Dundo Group Campground, each location offers its own unique charm and amenities. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking views, easy access to hiking trails, or a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there’s a campground in Shenandoah for you.

So pack your camping gear, gather your friends and family, and get ready for an unforgettable outdoor experience in Shenandoah National Park. Whether you spend your days exploring the hiking trails, fishing in the mountain streams, or simply relaxing amidst nature’s beauty, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

In the following sections, we’ll provide detailed information about each of the top camping locations in Shenandoah National Park. So sit back, relax, and let us guide you through the best places to pitch your tent and immerse yourself in the natural splendor of this remarkable national park.

 

Shenandoah National Park

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park spans over 200,000 acres of breathtaking natural beauty. With its panoramic vistas, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, it is no wonder that Shenandoah National Park attracts millions of visitors each year.

When it comes to camping in Shenandoah, the park offers a range of options to suit different camping styles. From developed campgrounds with modern amenities to backcountry camping for those seeking a more rugged experience, there is something for every camper.

Shenandoah National Park is divided into three districts: North, Central, and South. Each district has its own unique features and camping opportunities.

In the North District, you’ll find the popular Big Meadows Campground. Nestled in a picturesque valley, this campground is known for its stunning views, abundant wildlife, and easy access to some of the park’s most iconic hiking trails. With over 200 campsites, Big Meadows can accommodate both tents and RVs, making it a great choice for families and larger groups.

The Central District is home to Mathews Arm Campground, situated at an elevation of 2,500 feet. This peaceful and scenic campground offers a variety of amenities, including picnic tables, fire pits, and drinking water. From Mathews Arm, you can embark on hikes to nearby waterfalls or enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

In the South District, Loft Mountain Campground is a popular choice for campers seeking a more secluded experience. With its high elevation and forested setting, Loft Mountain offers breathtaking vistas and a peaceful atmosphere. The campground provides access to hiking trails, picnicking areas, and even offers a camp store for your convenience.

For those looking to camp with a larger group, the Dundo Group Campground is an ideal choice. Located in the South District, this campground offers five separate sites that can accommodate up to 25 people each. Surrounded by nature and with easy access to hiking trails, Dundo Group Campground provides a unique opportunity for group camping adventures.

No matter which district or campground you choose, camping in Shenandoah National Park promises an unforgettable experience immersed in the beauty of nature. From stunning sunsets to the soothing sounds of the wilderness, camping here is a chance to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with the wonders of the natural world.

 

Big Meadows Campground

If you’re looking for a picturesque camping location in Shenandoah National Park, look no further than Big Meadows Campground. Situated in the North District of the park, this campground offers stunning views, abundant wildlife, and easy access to some of the park’s most popular hiking trails.

With over 200 campsites available, Big Meadows can accommodate both tents and RVs, making it perfect for families and larger groups. The campsites are nestled among the towering trees, offering shade and a sense of tranquility. Some sites even provide electric hookups for RVs.

As the name suggests, Big Meadows Campground is located in a picturesque meadow. This open and expansive area provides ample space for activities such as frisbee, soccer, or simply enjoying a picnic with your loved ones. The meadow is also a great spot for stargazing on clear nights, away from the city lights.

One of the highlights of camping at Big Meadows is the opportunity to witness the park’s diverse wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and a variety of bird species. Remember to maintain a safe distance and never feed the animals to ensure their well-being and your safety.

For those seeking outdoor adventure, Big Meadows Campground is the perfect gateway to some of Shenandoah’s most iconic hiking trails. The famous Dark Hollow Falls Trail is just a short distance away, leading you through the forest to a stunning 70-foot waterfall. The hike to the panoramic views of the Stony Man Summit is also a must-do activity for nature enthusiasts.

When you’re not exploring the trails or admiring the wildlife, you can relax around the campfire and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of Big Meadows Campground. Roast marshmallows, share stories, and create memories with your fellow campers. And if you forgot any camping essentials, the campground has a camp store where you can purchase firewood, groceries, and camping supplies.

It’s important to note that Big Meadows Campground is a popular destination, especially during the peak summer months. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance to secure your spot. Keep in mind that the campground does not have showers, but there are restrooms with flush toilets and potable water available throughout the campground.

Overall, Big Meadows Campground offers a memorable camping experience in the heart of Shenandoah National Park. From its stunning views to its convenient amenities and access to hiking trails, it’s no wonder why this campground remains a favorite among visitors year after year.

 

Mathews Arm Campground

If you’re seeking a peaceful and scenic camping experience in Shenandoah National Park, look no further than Mathews Arm Campground. Located in the Central District of the park, this campground offers a tranquil setting surrounded by nature’s beauty.

At an elevation of 2,500 feet, Mathews Arm Campground provides a cool and refreshing escape during the warm summer months. The campground features spacious campsites that can accommodate both tents and RVs, making it suitable for a variety of camping preferences.

One of the main highlights of Mathews Arm is its proximity to stunning waterfalls. From the campground, you can embark on a hike along the Mathews Arm Trail, leading you to the picturesque Mathews Arm Falls. This 3.7-mile round-trip hike takes you through a beautiful forested area and rewards you with the sight and sounds of cascading water.

Aside from the waterfall hike, Mathews Arm Campground offers a variety of recreational activities to enjoy. You can spend your days exploring the numerous hiking trails that wind through the surrounding forests, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of nature. Additionally, the campground provides picnic tables and fire pits, perfect for enjoying meals and relaxation amidst the peacefulness of the outdoors.

If you’re looking for a break from the great outdoors, nearby attractions include the historical Skyland Resort and Visitor Center, where you can learn about the park’s rich history and enjoy a delicious meal with panoramic views. The quaint town of Luray is also a short drive away, offering charming shops, restaurants, and the famous Luray Caverns.

When night falls, Mathews Arm Campground offers a prime opportunity for stargazing. With minimal light pollution in the area, the night skies come alive with countless stars, providing a mesmerizing display overhead. This is the perfect time to relax by the campfire, share stories with fellow campers, and enjoy the peacefulness of the night.

It’s important to note that Mathews Arm Campground does not offer electric hookups or showers. However, there are restrooms with flush toilets and potable water available for campers to use. Additionally, it is recommended to make a reservation in advance, especially during peak camping seasons, to secure your spot.

If you’re looking for a serene camping experience amidst the natural beauty of Shenandoah National Park, Mathews Arm Campground is an excellent choice. With its stunning waterfalls, peaceful atmosphere, and easy access to hiking trails, it’s the perfect destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a calm retreat in the heart of the park.

 

Loft Mountain Campground

If you’re searching for a secluded and scenic camping experience in Shenandoah National Park, look no further than Loft Mountain Campground. Nestled in the South District of the park, this campground offers breathtaking vistas, a peaceful atmosphere, and access to a wide range of outdoor activities.

Situated at an elevation of 3,200 feet, Loft Mountain Campground provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The campground features over 200 campsites that accommodate both tents and RVs, making it suitable for all types of campers.

One of the unique features of Loft Mountain Campground is the opportunity for backcountry and primitive camping. For those seeking a more rugged experience, there are tent-only sites available that offer a more secluded atmosphere. These sites provide a true immersion in nature, allowing you to disconnect from the modern world and fully appreciate the wilderness.

Loft Mountain Campground offers easy access to a variety of hiking trails that wind through the pristine forests of Shenandoah National Park. The popular Big Run Loop Trail is a must-do for hikers, as it takes you on a scenic journey through diverse landscapes, including meadows, streams, and rocky ridges. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are trails suitable for all experience levels.

In addition to hiking, the campground provides opportunities for other outdoor activities such as birdwatching, wildlife spotting, and stargazing. With minimal light pollution in the area, the night skies at Loft Mountain Campground are a sight to behold. Gaze up at the thousands of twinkling stars and enjoy the peacefulness of the night.

Loft Mountain Campground offers a range of amenities to make your camping experience comfortable and convenient. There are restrooms with flush toilets and potable water available, as well as a dump station for RV campers. Firewood and other camping supplies can be purchased at the camp store, ensuring that you have everything you need for a memorable camping adventure.

It’s worth noting that Loft Mountain Campground is a popular destination, especially during the summer months. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance to secure your spot. Additionally, while the campground does not have showers, the nearby Loft Mountain Wayside offers shower facilities for a small fee.

Whether you’re seeking solitude in nature or looking to explore the scenic wonders of Shenandoah National Park, Loft Mountain Campground provides the perfect basecamp for your outdoor adventures. Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of this remarkable campground.

 

Dundo Group Campground

If you’re planning a group camping trip to Shenandoah National Park, look no further than Dundo Group Campground. Situated in the South District of the park, this campground offers a unique camping experience designed specifically for larger groups.

Dundo Group Campground is divided into five separate sites, each capable of accommodating up to 25 people. This setup allows for a sense of privacy and a more intimate camping experience within your group. Each site provides picnic tables, fire pits, and space for tents, making it convenient and comfortable for all campers.

The campground is situated in a serene and secluded area, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Surrounded by nature’s beauty, Dundo Group Campground provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, wildlife spotting, and stargazing in the clear night skies.

One of the highlights of camping at Dundo Group Campground is its proximity to the famed Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is a world-renowned long-distance hiking trail that spans over 2,180 miles, stretching from Georgia to Maine. Hiking a section of this iconic trail is a must-do experience for outdoor enthusiasts, and Dundo Group Campground provides convenient access to different sections of the trail.

In addition to hiking, Dundo Group Campground is also near the Sherando Lake Recreation Area. This recreational area offers a pristine lake surrounded by sandy beaches, perfect for swimming, fishing, and picnicking. Spend the day enjoying water activities and basking in the sun before returning to the tranquility of the campground.

It’s important to note that Dundo Group Campground does not have showers or electric hookups. However, there are restrooms with flush toilets and potable water available for campers to use. It is recommended to make a reservation well in advance, especially for larger groups, to secure your preferred site.

When camping at Dundo Group Campground, it’s essential to practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the natural environment. Properly dispose of trash, minimize impact on wildlife, and follow all park regulations to ensure a sustainable camping experience for future generations.

Overall, Dundo Group Campground offers a fantastic opportunity for groups to come together and enjoy the beauty of Shenandoah National Park. Whether you’re embarking on a challenging hike, relaxing by the campfire, or simply taking in the serenity of the surroundings, this campground provides a memorable experience for all who visit.

 

Lewis Mountain Campground

Tucked away in the scenic South District of Shenandoah National Park, Lewis Mountain Campground offers a cozy and peaceful camping experience amidst the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Perfect for both tent and RV campers, this campground provides a tranquil setting for those seeking a rejuvenating escape.

Lewis Mountain Campground offers a total of 31 campsites, all of which are equipped with picnic tables and fire pits. The campground’s intimate size creates a sense of community, making it a popular choice for families and smaller groups. Each site is nestled among the trees, providing shade and privacy.

One of the unique features of Lewis Mountain Campground is its historic heritage. The campground dates back to the 1930s when it was initially developed to serve African American visitors during a time of segregation. Today, it stands as a symbol of inclusivity and appreciation for all visitors to Shenandoah National Park.

While Lewis Mountain Campground does not have electric hookups or showers, there are restrooms with flush toilets and potable water available for campers. Additionally, the campground offers access to a nearby camp store where you can purchase firewood, snacks, and other camping essentials.

One of the highlights of camping at Lewis Mountain is its proximity to world-class hiking trails. The Lewis Falls Trail is a popular hiking option, taking you on a picturesque trek to an impressive waterfall. The trail encompasses lush forests and offers breathtaking views along the way.

In addition to hiking, the campground is conveniently located near the Big Meadows area, which offers various amenities, including a visitor center, lodge, and dining options. Take some time to explore the walking paths, learn about the park’s natural and cultural history, or savor a delicious meal while enjoying panoramic views.

When the day comes to a close, gather around the campfire with your fellow campers and share stories, roast marshmallows, and appreciate the serenity of the surroundings. On clear nights, the star-filled sky above Lewis Mountain Campground is a sight to behold, providing a magical backdrop for your outdoor adventure.

It is important to note that Lewis Mountain Campground is a popular destination, especially during the peak summer months. Reservations are strongly recommended to secure your spot, as availability can fill up quickly.

For those who appreciate the charm of a smaller campground, Lewis Mountain Campground offers a unique and welcoming camping experience in the heart of Shenandoah National Park. From its historic significance to its scenic surroundings and access to outstanding hiking trails, this campground is sure to provide lasting memories of your visit to the park.

 

Sherando Lake Recreation Area

If you’re seeking a camping destination that combines the beauty of nature with a range of recreational activities, look no further than the Sherando Lake Recreation Area. Located near Shenandoah National Park, this stunning lakeside retreat offers a plethora of outdoor adventures for visitors of all ages.

Sherando Lake Recreation Area is situated in the George Washington National Forest, just a short drive from Shenandoah National Park. The main attraction of this area is the picturesque Sherando Lake, a 24-acre lake surrounded by lush greenery and towering trees. The crystal-clear water is perfect for swimming, kayaking, and fishing.

When it comes to camping, the Sherando Lake Recreation Area offers both tent and RV camping options. The campground features well-maintained sites with picnic tables, fire rings, and access to modern restroom facilities. Whether you prefer a shady spot under the trees or a site with a view of the lake, there’s something for everyone.

Aside from camping, the recreation area provides a myriad of activities to keep you entertained throughout your stay. Explore the numerous hiking trails that wind through the forest, offering glimpses of wildlife and scenic vistas. The White Rock Falls Trail is a popular choice, leading you to a cascading waterfall surrounded by lush vegetation.

For those who enjoy water activities, spend your days swimming in the refreshing lake, sunbathing on the sandy beach, or renting a kayak or paddleboard to explore the tranquil waters. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck at catching bass, trout, or catfish, creating unforgettable memories on the water.

If you’re looking to extend your stay, there are also picnic areas available for day use. These shaded areas provide a perfect spot to enjoy a meal with friends and family, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. Additionally, the recreation area offers a campground store where you can stock up on supplies and snacks.

It’s worth noting that the Sherando Lake Recreation Area is a popular destination, especially during the summer months and holiday weekends. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance, especially for RV and group camping sites, to secure your spot.

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and recreational opportunities offered at the Sherando Lake Recreation Area. Whether you’re seeking adventure on the trails, relaxation by the lake, or quality time with loved ones in a picturesque setting, this campground is sure to provide a memorable outdoor experience.

 

Shenandoah River State Park

If you’re looking for a camping experience that combines the beauty of the outdoors with the tranquility of a riverfront setting, Shenandoah River State Park is an ideal destination. Located along the banks of the Shenandoah River, this state park offers a range of recreational activities and amenities for nature lovers of all ages.

Shenandoah River State Park features a well-maintained campground with spacious campsites surrounded by a forested landscape. Whether you prefer tent camping or have an RV, there are options available to suit your needs. Many campsites offer picturesque views of the river, creating a serene and scenic backdrop for your outdoor adventure.

One of the highlights of camping at Shenandoah River State Park is the opportunity for water-based activities. The Shenandoah River is a popular destination for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. Rent a boat or bring your own and set off on a paddling adventure, taking in the peaceful river currents and appreciating the natural beauty that surrounds you.

For those seeking a more relaxed experience, the park offers prime fishing spots along the river. Cast your line and try your luck at catching smallmouth bass, catfish, or sunfish. Fishing in the tranquil waters of the Shenandoah River provides a perfect opportunity to unwind and enjoy the serenity of the outdoors.

Shenandoah River State Park is also a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The park boasts over 24 miles of well-maintained trails, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes. Embark on a scenic trek, winding through the forest and offering panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscapes. Keep an eye out for wildlife sightings, as the park is home to a variety of species such as whitetail deer, beavers, and a plethora of bird species.

In addition to outdoor activities, Shenandoah River State Park offers various amenities to enhance your camping experience. The park provides picnic areas with shelters, perfect for enjoying a meal with friends and family amidst the natural surroundings. There are also playgrounds and sports fields available for those looking to engage in recreational activities.

When the day comes to an end, gather around the campfire and let the sounds of nature serenade you. Share stories, roast marshmallows, and create lasting memories with your fellow campers. The tranquil setting of Shenandoah River State Park provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation and bonding amidst the beauty of the river and surrounding forest.

It’s important to note that Shenandoah River State Park is a popular destination, especially during the summer months and holiday weekends. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance, especially for the riverfront campsites, to secure your spot.

Escape to the serene beauty of Shenandoah River State Park and immerse yourself in the natural wonders that await. From river adventures to scenic hikes and peaceful camping, this state park offers a well-rounded outdoor experience for those seeking a combination of natural beauty and recreational activities.

 

George Washington National Forest

Located adjacent to Shenandoah National Park, the George Washington National Forest is a vast wilderness that offers endless opportunities for camping and outdoor exploration. Encompassing over 1.8 million acres of pristine landscape, this national forest is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

George Washington National Forest provides numerous camping options, from developed campgrounds to dispersed camping in remote areas. Whether you prefer a campground with amenities or a more rugged camping experience, there’s a spot for you in this expansive forest.

One of the popular camping areas within the George Washington National Forest is the Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area. Here, you’ll find a picturesque campground nestled along the banks of Passage Creek. The campground offers both tent and RV sites, along with picnic tables, fire pits, and restrooms. From the campground, you can explore the nearby trails, including the iconic Buzzard Rock Trail, which rewards hikers with stunning panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley.

For those seeking a more secluded and primitive camping experience, dispersed camping is permitted in designated areas throughout the national forest. These remote camping sites allow you to immerse yourself in the wilderness and connect with nature on a deeper level. However, it’s important to practice Leave No Trace principles and obtain any necessary permits to ensure minimal impact on the environment.

Aside from camping, George Washington National Forest offers a wealth of outdoor activities to satisfy every adventurer. Hiking enthusiasts can tackle the challenging trails that wind through the forest, showcasing breathtaking mountain views, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. The forest is also a haven for rock climbers, with its abundance of natural rock formations providing a thrilling challenge for climbers of all skill levels.

If you enjoy water-based activities, head to one of the many serene lakes and rivers within the national forest. Fishing, kayaking, and swimming are popular pastimes on the tranquil waters. Additionally, hunters can partake in hunting seasons for various game species during designated times and areas within the forest.

George Washington National Forest is not only a recreational haven but also a habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including black bears, deer, wild turkeys, and songbirds. Keep your camera at the ready as you explore the forest, as you may have the opportunity to capture remarkable encounters with these fascinating creatures.

With its vast expanse of untamed beauty, George Washington National Forest is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. From camping beneath the star-filled sky to embarking on thrilling outdoor adventures, this forest offers a playground for those seeking an immersive experience in nature.

Before venturing into the forest, be sure to check the specific rules and regulations for camping and activities in the area you plan to visit. With proper preparation and respect for the environment, you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience in the wild wonders of George Washington National Forest.

 

Conclusion

Shenandoah National Park and its surrounding areas offer a plethora of camping opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Whether you’re seeking a serene lakeside retreat, a secluded forest experience, or a group camping adventure, there is a campground to suit your preferences. From the iconic Big Meadows Campground within Shenandoah National Park to the picturesque Sherando Lake Recreation Area and the vast wilderness of George Washington National Forest, the options are diverse and plentiful.

Camping in Shenandoah provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with stunning vistas, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife at every turn. From the peaceful serenade of flowing rivers to the awe-inspiring starry skies, these camping locations offer a chance to disconnect from the everyday hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature.

Whether you’re hiking the scenic trails, swimming in crystal-clear lakes, or simply enjoying quality time with family and friends around a campfire, the memories created during a Shenandoah camping adventure are bound to last a lifetime. The campgrounds’ amenities, such as picnic areas, restrooms, and camp stores, provide comfort and convenience during your outdoor stay.

When venturing into the great outdoors, it’s essential to remember to respect the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles. Preserve the natural beauty for future generations by properly disposing of trash, minimizing impact on vegetation and wildlife, and following all park regulations.

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or new to the outdoor experience, Shenandoah National Park and its surrounding areas offer a range of camping options that cater to all levels of comfort and adventure. So grab your camping gear, embark on a scenic road trip, and dive into the wonders of Shenandoah’s campgrounds. Create memories, find solace in nature, and let the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains leave you rejuvenated and inspired.