Introduction

Welcome to Shenandoah National Park, a stunning natural playground located in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Known for its breathtaking landscapes, hiking trails, and abundant wildlife, Shenandoah National Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

When planning a visit to Shenandoah National Park, one important consideration is where to stay. Fortunately, the park offers a range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. Whether you prefer camping under the stars, staying in a rustic cabin, or enjoying the comforts of a hotel, there are plenty of options to choose from.

In this article, we will explore some of the best areas to stay in Shenandoah National Park. From scenic campgrounds to cozy lodges and nearby towns, each location offers its own unique attractions and amenities. No matter which area you choose, you’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty and tranquility that Shenandoah National Park has to offer.

So, let’s dive in and discover the best areas to stay in Shenandoah National Park!

 

Skyland

Situated at an elevation of 3,680 feet, Skyland is one of the most scenic and sought-after areas to stay within Shenandoah National Park. This rustic mountain retreat offers a range of accommodations, including cozy cabins and rooms in the main lodge, all with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

Skyland is located near some of the park’s most popular hiking trails, including Stony Man Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Outdoor enthusiasts will have plenty of opportunities to explore the park’s natural wonders, from cascading waterfalls to panoramic vistas.

In addition to its stunning location, Skyland also offers a variety of amenities for guests to enjoy. The Mountain Taproom is a great place to unwind after a day of hiking, and the Pollock Dining Room serves up delicious meals with a focus on local ingredients.

If you prefer a more immersive experience, Skyland also offers guided hikes and ranger-led programs, providing valuable insights into the park’s flora, fauna, and history.

Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway or a family adventure, Skyland offers a serene and picturesque setting for your stay in Shenandoah National Park.

 

Big Meadows

Located in the central district of Shenandoah National Park, Big Meadows is a popular area for visitors due to its expansive meadows, abundant wildlife, and convenient amenities.

Big Meadows Lodge, nestled within the park, offers comfortable accommodations ranging from rustic cabins to traditional guest rooms. The lodge provides a cozy atmosphere with its lodge-style lobby and stone fireplaces, perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring.

One of the highlights of staying in Big Meadows is the opportunity to witness the park’s unique wildlife. Deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and a variety of bird species can often be spotted in the meadows and surrounding forests.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are several hiking trails accessible from Big Meadows, including the popular Dark Hollow Falls trail and the challenging Hawksbill Summit hike, which offers stunning panoramic views of the park.

In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy activities such as horseback riding, picnicking, and attending ranger-led programs. The Big Meadows Visitor Center is a great starting point for learning about the park’s natural and cultural history.

When it comes to dining, Big Meadows has options to satisfy all tastes. The Spottswood Dining Room serves up delicious meals with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, while the nearby Taproom offers a casual atmosphere perfect for enjoying a cold beverage.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat in nature or an active adventure, Big Meadows provides a central and comfortable base for exploring everything Shenandoah National Park has to offer.

 

Lewis Mountain

Tucked away in the southern district of Shenandoah National Park, Lewis Mountain offers a serene and secluded retreat for those looking to immerse themselves in nature.

At Lewis Mountain, you’ll find rustic cabins that provide a cozy and authentic camping experience. These cabins are equipped with basic amenities, including beds, a fireplace, and a picnic area. It’s the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with nature.

One of the major draws of staying at Lewis Mountain is its proximity to the park’s majestic waterfalls. The Lewis Falls Trail is a popular hike that rewards visitors with views of a picturesque waterfall cascading down a rocky gorge.

For a more leisurely outdoor experience, Lewis Mountain also offers picnic areas and a small campground, providing a great opportunity for family gatherings and outdoor barbecues.

If you’re interested in exploring beyond the park, Lewis Mountain is conveniently located near several charming towns and attractions. Nearby Waynesboro offers a variety of dining options and shops, while the historic town of Charlottesville is just a short drive away and is home to the University of Virginia and the picturesque Monticello estate.

While Lewis Mountain does not have its own restaurant or dining facilities, there are plenty of options available in nearby towns to satisfy your palate.

For a peaceful and secluded getaway, Lewis Mountain is the perfect choice to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of Shenandoah National Park.

 

Panorama

Nestled in the northern district of Shenandoah National Park, Panorama is a picturesque area known for its stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

At Panorama, you have the option to stay in charming cabins that offer both comfort and seclusion. These secluded cabins are equipped with modern amenities, including full kitchens, cozy living spaces, and private decks where you can soak in the breathtaking scenery.

One of the main attractions of staying in Panorama is the opportunity to witness unforgettable sunrises and sunsets. The area’s elevated location provides unobstructed views, allowing you to capture stunning photographs and create lasting memories.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Panorama offers access to a variety of hiking trails, including the popular Compton Peak hike and the challenging Mary’s Rock Summit trail. These trails take you through diverse landscapes, from dense forests to rocky outcrops, offering opportunities to spot wildlife and enjoy the beauty of the park.

In addition to hiking, Panorama is also close to other recreational activities such as fishing, horseback riding, and bird watching. The nearby Shenandoah River offers opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, while the park’s abundant wildlife provides ample photography opportunities.

If you’re looking to explore beyond the park, the town of Front Royal is just a short drive away. Known as the “Gateway to Shenandoah,” Front Royal boasts charming shops, restaurants, and historical sites that add an extra layer of enjoyment to your trip.

While Panorama does not have its own dining facilities, the nearby town of Front Royal offers a range of culinary options to satisfy your taste buds.

For those seeking stunning vistas, outdoor adventures, and a peaceful retreat, Panorama is an ideal area to stay in Shenandoah National Park.

 

Matthews Arm

Located in the central district of Shenandoah National Park, Matthews Arm offers a peaceful and picturesque retreat surrounded by lush forests and scenic beauty.

At Matthews Arm, you have the choice to stay in tent camping sites or one of the park’s rustic cabins. The camping sites are nestled among trees, providing a tranquil setting for a night under the stars. The cabins offer a cozy and comfortable stay, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings.

One of the main attractions of Matthews Arm is its proximity to numerous hiking trails. The Overall Run Falls Trail, starting from Matthews Arm Campground, leads to the tallest waterfall in the park. The trail winds through fragrant pine forests and offers breathtaking views of the cascading falls.

In addition to hiking, Matthews Arm also offers opportunities for wildlife viewing, birdwatching, and relaxing picnics amidst nature. The campground is equipped with amenities such as picnic tables, fire pits, and restrooms, ensuring a comfortable stay for visitors.

If you’re interested in exploring the surrounding area, Matthews Arm is within reach of several nearby attractions. The charming town of Sperryville offers art galleries, antique shops, and renowned vineyards where you can sample local wines.

While Matthews Arm does not have its own dining facilities, you can stock up on supplies at the nearby towns or enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants in the surrounding area.

For a serene and nature-focused getaway, Matthews Arm provides a tranquil escape within Shenandoah National Park.

 

Loft Mountain

Perched on the highest point in Shenandoah National Park, Loft Mountain offers breathtaking panoramic views and a range of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy.

Loft Mountain is known for its spacious campground, which features tent and RV sites, as well as cabins for those looking for a more comfortable stay. The campground offers various amenities, including picnic areas, fire pits, and restrooms, ensuring a pleasant camping experience.

One of the main attractions of staying at Loft Mountain is the expansive network of hiking trails that surround the area. The popular Frazier Discovery Trail provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains, while the challenging Big Run Loop takes you through dense forests and past cascading waterfalls.

For those seeking a more leisurely outdoor experience, Loft Mountain offers opportunities for picnicking, bird watching, and stargazing. The campground’s elevated location away from light pollution provides an ideal setting for observing the night sky.

In addition to outdoor activities, Loft Mountain is also home to the award-winning Loft Mountain Wayside. Here, you can enjoy delicious meals, snacks, and refreshing beverages, making it a convenient place to refuel after a day of exploring the park.

If you’re interested in venturing outside the park, the nearby town of Charlottesville offers a vibrant music and arts scene, historical attractions, and a variety of dining options.

For a memorable and scenic stay in Shenandoah National Park, Loft Mountain provides a range of outdoor activities and stunning views that will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty.

 

Elkwallow

Nestled in the northern district of Shenandoah National Park, Elkwallow is a charming and tranquil area known for its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife.

At Elkwallow, visitors have the option to stay at the cozy Elkwallow Wayside cabins or choose a camping spot within the campground nestled among the trees. The cabins offer a comfortable retreat with modern amenities, while the campground provides a more rustic camping experience.

Elkwallow is an excellent area for wildlife enthusiasts, as it is known for frequent deer sightings and the possibility of spotting black bears. The area’s picturesque meadows and surrounding forests make it the perfect spot for birdwatching and wildlife photography.

One of the highlights of staying in Elkwallow is the opportunity to explore nearby hiking trails. For a moderate hike, the Elkwallow Loop Trail offers scenic views of the park and the chance to see cascading waterfalls. Additionally, the Appalachian Trail passes through Elkwallow, providing access to a vast network of trails for all skill levels.

While there are no dining facilities at Elkwallow, the Elkwallow Wayside offers a selection of snacks, sandwiches, and beverages for visitors to enjoy. It’s the perfect place to grab a quick bite before heading out on your next adventure.

Should you wish to venture beyond the park, the nearby town of Front Royal offers a range of dining options, shops, and historical sites to explore.

For a peaceful and nature-filled getaway, Elkwallow provides a serene and picturesque setting within Shenandoah National Park.

 

Dundo Group Campground

If you’re planning a group camping trip to Shenandoah National Park, the Dundo Group Campground is the perfect choice. Located in the southern district of the park, this campground offers a secluded and spacious setting for large gatherings.

Dundo Group Campground is equipped with several well-appointed campsites, making it ideal for scout groups, family reunions, and other organized outings. The campground provides picnic tables, fire pits, and restroom facilities to ensure a comfortable and convenient camping experience.

One of the advantages of staying at Dundo Group Campground is its proximity to a variety of hiking trails. From easy walks to more challenging hikes, there are options to suit all abilities and interests. The Jones Run Falls Trail is a popular choice, where you can hike to a beautiful waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.

In addition to hiking, Dundo Group Campground offers opportunities for wildlife observation, stargazing, and campfire storytelling. Its remote location away from light pollution provides a unique opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the night sky.

While Dundo Group Campground does not have its own dining facilities, it is conveniently located near the town of Waynesboro, where you can find a variety of dining options and stores to stock up on supplies.

For those looking to combine the joys of camping with the camaraderie of a group, Dundo Group Campground is a fantastic choice within Shenandoah National Park.

 

Shenandoah River State Park

If you’re seeking a different experience outside of Shenandoah National Park but still want to be close to nature, consider staying at Shenandoah River State Park. Located just a short drive from the national park, this state park offers a variety of outdoor activities and beautiful riverside accommodations.

Shenandoah River State Park is known for its stunning views of the Shenandoah River, which winds its way through the park’s scenic landscapes. The park offers a range of accommodation options, including cabins, campsites, and yurts, all situated along the riverbanks.

Guests at Shenandoah River State Park can enjoy a multitude of outdoor activities. The park features miles of hiking and biking trails that meander along the river and through the surrounding woodlands. Additionally, the river itself provides opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.

For those who prefer land-based activities, the park offers picnic areas, playgrounds, and even horseback riding. Equestrians can explore the park’s extensive horse trails, allowing them to experience the park from a unique perspective.

Shenandoah River State Park also provides educational opportunities through its interactive visitor center and ranger-led programs. Visitors can learn about the park’s flora, fauna, and local history, gaining a deeper appreciation for the natural wonders that surround them.

When it comes to dining, the park has a restaurant, Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, where visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

For an alternative yet equally captivating experience near Shenandoah National Park, Shenandoah River State Park offers a serene and picturesque setting along the banks of the Shenandoah River.

 

Luray

If you’re looking for a charming and convenient base outside of Shenandoah National Park, the town of Luray is a fantastic option. Located just a short drive from the park, Luray offers a range of accommodations, dining options, and attractions for visitors to enjoy.

Luray is perhaps most famous for its stunning Luray Caverns, one of the largest and most well-known cavern systems in the Eastern United States. Visitors can embark on guided tours through the caverns, marveling at the unique rock formations and underground wonders.

In addition to the caverns, Luray offers a variety of outdoor activities. The nearby Shenandoah River provides opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and tubing, while the Shenandoah National Park offers access to numerous hiking trails with breathtaking views.

The town itself is filled with quaint shops, art galleries, and antique stores, offering a delightful experience for those who enjoy exploring and browsing for unique treasures. The Luray Downtown Historic District showcases beautifully preserved buildings and provides a glimpse into the town’s rich history.

When it comes to dining, Luray offers a diverse selection of restaurants and cafes, serving everything from classic American cuisine to international flavors. Whether you’re in the mood for a fine dining experience, a casual meal, or a quick coffee break, Luray has options to suit every taste.

In terms of accommodations, Luray has a range of options, including cozy bed and breakfasts, rustic cabins, and comfortable hotels. Regardless of your preference, you can find a place to rest and rejuvenate after a day of exploring.

For those seeking a blend of outdoor adventure, small-town charm, and access to the natural wonders of Shenandoah National Park, Luray is an excellent choice as a base for your stay.

 

Conclusion

Shenandoah National Park offers a plethora of options for accommodations, ensuring that every visitor can find the perfect place to stay while exploring the park’s natural beauty. From panoramic mountain views to serene riverside retreats, the park’s various areas provide unique experiences for all types of travelers.

Whether you choose to stay in the rustic cabins of Skyland, the charming Big Meadows lodge, or the secluded campsites of Matthews Arm and Loft Mountain, each area offers its own distinct charm and access to the park’s abundant hiking trails, wildlife, and breathtaking vistas.

Those seeking a more immersive camping experience may want to consider the group-friendly Dundo Group Campground or the tranquil Elkwallow area. These locations provide opportunities for large gatherings and offer a closer connection to nature.

If you prefer to explore beyond the national park, Shenandoah River State Park offers riverside accommodations and a range of outdoor activities, while the town of Luray provides a charming base with its historical sites, shops, and proximity to the famous Luray Caverns.

No matter where you choose to stay in Shenandoah National Park, you’ll be greeted with stunning landscapes, ample outdoor adventures, and the chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. So pack your bags, embark on a memorable journey, and immerse yourself in the wonders of Shenandoah National Park!