15 Beautiful Spots to go Camping in Shenandoah National Park

Want to do more than just a drive-through or day trip to Shenandoah National Park? Plan a trip and spend more than a day driving the Skyline Drive, so you can spend a night camping in Shenandoah National Park at one of the many campgrounds.

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Enjoy a night, weekend or even a week experiencing all the park and surrounding area has to offer by camping at one of the five campgrounds within the park, pitch your tent doing some backcountry camping, or pull your RV into one of the campgrounds just outside one of the park’s four entrance gates.

Within the park, the campgrounds feature various options, including tenting and RV campsites, cabins and backcountry huts. Some of the campgrounds also offer group sites for up to 20 people. 

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Prefer Glamping? Read our guide to Glamping in Virginia

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Backcountry Camping in Shenandoah National Park

For those who choose camping in the backcountry, be sure to pick up your free permit. Reservations are not required, but a permit is.

The four main campgrounds within the park have many modern conveniences but don’t expect to have the luxury hookups you will find at the local KOAs, glamping in Virginia or other nearby campgrounds.

Even though you will have potable water, dump stations and bathrooms, none of the sites have any hookups for your trailer or RV.

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Tips for Camping In Shenandoah National Park

The campgrounds often fill up on summer and fall foliage weekends, so be sure to visit Recreation.gov to make your reservation early.

If you happen to decide to stay at the last minute, you may still be in luck. Head to the Loft Mountain or Mathews Arm campgrounds when you arrive in the park. Eighty percent of their sites are first-come, first-serve.

For those who have access to a National Park Senior or Access Pass, there is a 50% camp fee discount when your show your pass and photo ID. If you reserve online, make sure you add the information when you make your reservation to get the discount.

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Shenandoah Campground Opening Dates

Note: The five campgrounds are not open year-round. 

Big Meadows is open the longest from late March through mid-November, while many others do not open until May and close in October.

Wherever you stay, within the park or outside, nothing is better than waking up under the stars, mountain air and a day of exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Campgrounds within the Shenandoah National Park

Mathews Arm Campground

  • Location: Mile Marker 22.1
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 90 miles / 2 hours
  • 2021 Open Dates: May 5 – October 31
  • Cost: Standard site – $15 a night, Group site – $50 a night

As you enter the park from the northern entrance at Front Royal, this will be the first campground along your route. Each of the 165 sites has a fire ring and picnic table. For those who need additional supplies, two miles away is the Elkwallow Wayside. Here you can pick up any supplies you may need.

Mathews Arm Campground has an amphitheater, storage lockers and flush toilets, but there are no showers onsite.

While here, take advantage of the lovely 1.7-mile easy loop of the Traces Nature Trail, and hike the moderately strenuous 5.1-mile loop to the Overall Run Falls.

Big Meadows Campground

  • Location:  Mile Marker 51
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 125 miles / 2 ½ hours
  • 2021 Open Dates: March 26 – November 11
  • Cost: Standard sites – $20, Group sites (7-15 people) $45, rooms and cabins $89 – $219

Nearly midway through your travel along the Skyline Drive, Big Meadows is one of the most popular campgrounds since it has the most facilities along with being within walking distance to three of Shenandoah National Park’s waterfalls.

The campground’s 221 sites, 51 being for tents only, all have access to a picnic table and fire ring. The campground has coin-operated showers, flush toilets, food storage lockers, laundry facilities, an amphitheater and a camp store. Firewood and ice are available for purchase.

Besides campsites, Big Meadows also offers 29 rooms within the resort lodge and 72 rooms within rustic cabins and multi-unit lodges.

With easy access to Dark Hollow Falls, Lewis Falls, Rose River Falls and the Byrd Visitor Center, you may want to plan on staying there for more than a night.

  • The Dark Hollow Falls Hike is a 1.4-mile loop with a 1¼ hour hiking time.
  • To get to the Rose River Falls, plan on 4½ hours to hike the 4-mile loop.
  • You will need an additional 4 hours to hike the moderate 3.3-mile loop to see the beautiful Lewis Falls.

Read our full guide to Shenandoah waterfall hikes

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Lewis Mountain Campground

  • Location: Mile Marker 57.2
  • Distance from Washington D.C.:
    • 120miles / 2 hours 20 minutes if coming in from the southernmost entrance
    • 130 miles / 3 hours from the Front Royal entrance
  • 2021 Open Dates: March 25 – October 31
  • Cost: Standard campsite – $15, cabins $135 – $163

The Lewis Mountain Campground’s 30 sites are all first-come, first-serve. It is the national park’s smallest campground, and a favorite for those who want a more private stay than the bustling Big Meadows but many of the same amenities.

The campground offers a camp store, food storage lockers, coin-operated showers, flush toilets and laundry facilities. You can purchase firewood and ice at the camp store.

Loft Mountain Campground

  • Location: Mile Marker 79.5
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 125 miles / 2 ½ hours from the Swift Rung Gap Entrance Station near Elkton, VA
  • 2021 Open Dates: May 5 – October 31
  • Cost: Standard campsite – $15

At the top of Big Flat Mountain near the southern park entrance, you will find the largest campground. The 207 sites have access to the amphitheater, laundry facilities, a camp store, flush toilets, and coin-operated showers. You can purchase ice and firewood from the camp store.

During your stay here, you will be sure to enjoy the fantastic views to both the east and west. You will also want to put your hiking boots on and head to both the Jones Run Falls and the Doyles River Falls hiking trails.  

Dundo Group Campground

  • Location: Mile Marker 83.7
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 130 miles / 2 hours and 40 minutes from the Swift Rung Gap Entrance Station near Elkton, VA
  • 2021 Open Dates: May 5 – October 31
  • Cost: $45 Group Campsite (7-20 people)

With only three campsites, vault toilets and no showers, this is the most rustic campground in Shenandoah National Park. Each of the sites does have fire rings, picnic tables and access to food storage lockers (bears do live here).

The water at Dundo is non-potable, so be sure to stock up before settling in.

This is a great home base for those who want to do a day hike along The Appalachian Trail since the trail passes through the camp.

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Camping Outside the Shenandoah National Park

Camping outside the national park boundaries is another option, with options near each of the four entrance gates. Listed below are some favorite campsites that will keep you close to the park for easy access.

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Near the Front Royal Entrance

Front Royal RV Campground

  • Address: 585 KOA Dr, Front Royal, VA 22630
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 73 miles / 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cost: Campsite $27 – $43, Kabins – $47 – $68
  • Reservations

Just 3 miles from the Front Royal entrance gate of Shenandoah National Park, Front Royal RV Campground offers 114 campsites and twenty 1-and 2-room cabins. The tent sites are in a wooded area, and the sites range from full hook-ups, water/electric hook-ups, and no hook-ups at all. 

There are plenty of amenities and activities like a pool, playground, mini-golf, horseshoe pits, fishing pond, movie room and basketball court for the whole family to enjoy.

For military, KOA members, AAA or AARP, a discounted campsite fee is available.

Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground

  • Address: 15618 Fort Valley Rd, Fort Valley, VA 22652
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 80 miles / 1½ hours
  • Cost: $20 a night

In George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, the Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground’s 32 sites sit along Passage Creek.

The campground is first-come, first-serve, and open year-round.  

Each campsite comes with a fire ring and picnic table. The campgrounds has flush toilets and warm showers from Memorial Day weekend through September. During the remaining part of the year, there are vault toilets onsite.

Water is available year-round from a hand pump.

There are no hook-ups at any of the sites, but there is a dump station for campers.

Low-Water Bridge Campground

  • Address: 192 Panhandle Rd, Bentonville, VA 22610
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 80 miles / 1½ hours
  • Open: April 1 – November 1
  • Cost: $27 – $39 a night for 2 adults, extra adults (ages 13+) $9

Situated along the Shenandoah River, the campground is the perfect spot to stay to enjoy fishing, tubing or canoeing down the river.

Many of the 60 sites have electric/water hook-ups, and some even have river access. There are even a couple of cabins you can rent.

Each site has a fire pit and picnic table. There are port-a-johns, hot-water showers, a dump station and a camp store that sells some camping supplies, ice and firewood within the campground.

They offer a shuttle drop off service up river for those who wish to kayak, canoe or tube.

Shenandoah National Park Camping

Near the Thornton Gap Entrance Station – Luray

Luray KOA Holiday

  • Address: 3402 Kimball Rd, Luray, VA 22835
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 90 miles / 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Open: March 15 to November 17
  • Reservations

Just 10 miles from the Thornton Gap Entrance Station, this classic KOA campground offers a full line of amenities like a game room, playground, swimming pool, WiFi, and a dog park.

The 100 sites range from pull-through sites with a maximum length of 85 feet and full hook-ups to tent sites with no hook-ups. You can also rent a yurt or a cabin, all with bathrooms.

Each site comes with a picnic table and fire pit. Some of the RV sites even have a paver deck.

Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp-Resort

  • Address: 2250 US Highway 211 E, Luray, VA 22835
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 90 miles / 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Open: Mar 20-Nov 20
  • Cost: Cabins $84 – $402, Campsites $44 – $71
  • Reservations

Just five miles from the Luray Caverns and six miles from the Skyline Drive, this 73-acre resort has something for everyone to do.  

The list of amenities includes multiple swimming pools, mini-golf, laser tag, waterslides, arcades and playgrounds.

Campsites offer guests anywhere from full hook-ups, concrete pads and upgraded fire rings to basic tent sites with no hook-ups, a fire ring and a picnic table.

Outlanders River Camp

  • Address: 4253 US-211, Luray, VA 22835
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 100 miles / 2 hours
  • Open: Year-round
  • Cost: Tents: $40 – $48, RV – $89 – $45
  • Reservations

On the Shenandoah River banks, this 100-acre campground offers a variety of sites from full hook-ups to primitive tent sites along with four cabins. There are hot shower bathhouses, shaded pavilions, a camp store and a tube float within the campground.

Along their ¾-mile of river frontage, there are various spots where you can access the river to enjoy a paddle.

Shenandoah Skyline Drive

Near the Swift Run Gap Entrance Station – Elkton

Swift Run Campground

  • Address: 19540 Spotswood Trail, Elkton, VA 22827
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 120 miles / 2¼ hours

At the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and five minutes from the Swift Run Entrance Station, this full-service campground offers 43 sites with restrooms, showers, a swimming pool and a laundromat.  

This is not a luxury campground, but its proximity to the park makes it a great option.

Shenandoah National Park- Dark Hallow falls

Near the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station – Afton

Misty Mountain Campground

  • Address: 56 Misty Mountain Road, Greenwood, VA 22943
  • Distance from Washington D.C.: 130 miles / 2½ hours
  • Open: Year-round
  • Cost: Tent/RV sites $26 – $60, Cabins $55 – $249
  • Reservations

Just ten minutes from the Skyline Drive’s southern entrance, the Misty Mountain Campground has a wide variety of camping options for any traveler. Choose between tent camping, a RV full hook-up site, a cabin or glamping within the 50-acre park.

Misty Mountain has a long list of amenities, including hot showers in the bathhouses, a fitness room, splash park, cornhole, pool and a fishing pond. Those who would like to visit some of the local wineries, check out their Camping and Wine Tour packages.

  • All tent sites come with a picnic table and fire ring.
  • RV sites have a gravel pad, fire ring, picnic table, and WiFi. Many of the sites also have cable TV.
  • If you plan on renting one of the cabins, be sure to bring bedding and towels with you.

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