Secluded in the thick trees and rolling hills of Shenandoah National Park, the Big Meadows Campground is the ideal spot for camping near Washington.
Shenandoah National Park spans 300 square miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the southern Appalachians. The park rises above the Virginia Piedmont to its east and the Shenandoah Valley to its west.
The scenery at Meadows Campground never disappoints, with a stunning array of colors in the fall and a blanket of bright wildflowers in the spring. This green and shady campground is a wilderness paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Some trails lead to a waterfall or viewpoint while others wind deep into the forest and wilderness.
Big Meadows is near many of the major facilities and popular hiking trails in the park. Three waterfalls are within walking distance, and the Meadow, with its abundant plant growth and wildlife, is an ideal nearby attraction.
Wildlife viewing is also a popular pastime, with black bears, wild turkey, deer, birds and countless other animals thriving in the park.
The campground is also located right off the famous Skyline Drive, which runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Stunning views are visible from any of the 75 scenic overlooks.
This expansive campground offers more than 200 campsites, including sites that can accommodate larger groups. Picnic areas are provided, as modern conveniences like flush toilets, showers and dump stations create a comfortable camping experience.
Two visitor centers with bookstores and exhibits are located in the park (milepost 5 and milepost 51). There are concession managed restaurants, gift shops and lodging facilities scattered throughout the park.
Visitor Center: Ranger Station
Day Use Area: Amphitheater
This was a great campground location to many, many National Park Trails. Our stay was during the last week of September. We met up with family who live in the area and got 3 sites hugging the AT. We pitched two large tents on our E178 site and a hammock in the trees just beyond our fire pit. My brother had a large tent on site E177 and it was just as nice. Our third site E176 was across the road from us flanked by travel trailer campers. That site had less privacy, but gave us a shorcut path to the running water bathroom. There was a sign in the bathroom that said it was ok to pour filter dishwater down the toilets, so we did that quite a bit to keep our campsites clean and safe from bears. My favorite sites were E177 and E178. They were a good size and distance from the other sites. We were close to the water pump and running water bathrooms. The pay showers were a bit of a walk from us, but they were clean. We liked having a nearby store, visitor's center, and gas station at this campground. In the evenings we went to the big meadow to watch the wildlife a few nights.Site E178 had great sunrise vistas through the trees. We positioned our chairs to face the valley and pretended there wasn't a packed campground full of families. It was actually pretty peaceful until the weekend which got rowdy at full capacity.The parking pad is level, on E178 but the grassy area was slightly sloped for our tents. I thought it was not too bad of a tradeoff for the view, but if you've ever slid down on your pad or cot a bit, you might not like it. My brother was at the adjoining site E177 and while his parking pad had a slight slope, he had a fairly level spot for his big tent.
There were bear lockers at each site (about 50 in x 34 in) and we never had any bears visit while we were there. The bear lockers were great for us since we were tent camping and our vehicle was a pickup truck, so we did not have to juggle messing with coolers/food in the truck cab. Deer came through the campground every morning right up to our tents, which was delightful, except it made me paranoid checking for ticks every night. I really enjoyed being right off the Appalachian Trail and enjoyed seeing a few through-hikers each day while we made campfire feasts.
We brought USDA wood and another camper gave us a few cords of USDA wood he brought from GA when he left. We did purchase one bundle from the campground and it was pretty green, so it burned smokey. The cost was about the same as it is at Lowes or anywhere else like that. We enjoyed multiple hikes and had a group with different hiking abilities, but there were many great Shendoah sites to see that we all could enjoy, including the group's dogs. Shenandoah is one of the few National Parks that allows dogs on most of the trails (leashed of course.) We had two dogs in our group and enjoyed seeing the other dogs in the campground. There was only one instance when we noticed someone bagged their dog poop on a trail, but left the poop in the bag. People!
Because of Covid-19, the ranger programs at this campground were cancelled. I would return again, but maybe choose dispersed camping for a better view and less people.
If you don’t like crowded campgrounds, this isn’t for you. It’s a hopping place! Rolled up on a Wednesday with a reserved site for 2 nights and they easily switched me to a FF site so I could stay the weekend. On my 2nd morning I discovered that the AT was about 30 feet from my tent. There are some trails you can do from the campground, I highly suggest AllTrails Pro. It came in handy for my stay here. Another thing I liked about this site is that it’s halfway through the park, so if you’re into scenic driving it’ll be good for you. I didn’t make it all the way north, but when I was headed home I drove the full 50 miles south on skyline drive. Hazel top overlook is a few miles south of here, you can catch a good sunset.
This is my favorite campground, and general area, in Shenandoah National Park. The campground is nice and well kept. The tent sites are pretty spaced out, but the RV sites are pretty close together. The bathhouses are adequate and clean, but quite small. There was a wait sometimes for the men’s room even. The staff was friendly, but beware: they are very strict and unwavering in their enforcement of bear safety regulations. LEAVE NO FOOD OR KITCHEN ITEMS UNATTENDED EVER. We saw much revenue generated for the NPS that weekend by inattentive campers.
Big Meadows is centrally located in the park and close to many big attractions. I suggest stony man trail and dark hollow falls, both relatively short hikes to an overlook and nice waterfall, respectively. For a great treat hike down (uphill all the way coming back!) to Rapidan camp, the historic predecessor to Camp David. Try to time your hike with a bus tour to get a guided look inside the restored camp buildings. The visitor center has a great museum as well.
Well kept campsites, clean facilities, close camp store for limited supplies, ice, etc. close to bigger Wayside store at Big Meadows VC along with only gas station in Shenandoah NP.
My partner and our two dogs camped here for a weekend in a tent. Some of the sites are much better than others, a lot are closer together than I'd like. It is a really excellent spot to camp at in the summer as the temperatures are much cooler on the mountain. The bathrooms near the sites do not have showers. The showers are coin operated, pretty far away (we drove) and are only open for very limited hours. Overall, a great spot if you get the right campsite but overpriced. The price to camp, the firewood and the ice are all expensive. The tent sites have a fire ring with a grate. There is no grill so be sure to bring a camp stove, no one wants to have to start three fires a day just to eat.
We took the grandchildren on their first camping trip without their parents, ages 5 and 2.5, and spent two nights in Big Meadows. The camping was fine, but the opportunities for hiking, biking, and nature watching were excellent!
The cost was only $20 per night. The site we had for our trailer was small and it barely fit our camper and truck. However, their was plenty of room overall and our neighbors were a good distance away.
The kids had a great time walking and biking around the campground. We also hiked up to Blackrock (near the Big Meadows Lodge) and took a couple of other short family hikes.
There are no hook ups, but the bathrooms were up to date and well distributed through out the campground. Everyone was friendly and helpful… no complaints there at all.
We highly recommend this campground if you are visiting the Shenandoah National Park.
We stayed at a "group" site D167, which allows up to 15 people and 4 cars. While the campground is very nice, with clean conveniently located bathrooms, the site itself is probably not suited for a large group of people. First of all, it's located in the middle of a large patch of grass right next to other family campsites, so no privacy at all. If you travel with friends you might want to stay up a little longer and have a good laugh around the fire, but this site isn't really designed this way. The quiet hours are after 10PM and it's enforced. Second, the space is really limited, especially if your group members have larger tents. Also, there's no overflow parking, except at the entrance to the campground.
The showers are nice and clean, but they are coin operated.
The rangers are very strict. We had some food related items left on the table (salt/pepper shakers) and they were confiscated while we were hiking. I'm not saying it's wrong, but be aware, because these rules are not enforced at the same level in different places. We ended up with a $80 fine.
Also, since this is a national park, you cannot bring the firewood from outside, have to buy it in the park.
Other than that, we enjoyed our stay. The campground location allow an easy access to many trails within Shenandoah National Park, as well as close by, such as our favorite Old Rag Mountain. It's also technically a part of the NP, so keep your entrance receipt to show at the Old Rag's parking lot.
Make sure you taste blackberry ice cream at the general store at the entrance. It's a local specialty and it's delicious!!!
Huge campground with over 200 sites plus additional tent-only walk-in sites but it appeared to be close to, if not completely, full on a Thursday night in late October, so it was a good thing we had reservations. Upon check-in, the campground rules were reviewed with us, and we even had to initial that we understood that we would be fined if our food was not properly stored, as the campground was in bear country. I’m guessing this is necessary because of stupid people who went before us. We reserved Site A67, which turned out to be a good one as it had no site on one side and tent sites behind us, but a good distance away on the other. Some sites have more privacy/separation than others. There were 12 sites in the A loop that did not allow generators, part of the reason we chose the site we did, but IMO, Sites E175-E185 are even better, as they back up to an expansive view.
This campground has it all, including a shower house (coin-operated) that looked very nice. I made sure I showered the morning of the day we arrived as most national park campgrounds do not have showers. There was also a very nice-looking laundry facility. This may be because of AT through-hikers but again, not something I was expecting in a national park campground. You can also access the trailhead for the popular Dark Hollow Falls trail directly from the campground. We only stayed one night but I would have stayed longer and would definitely consider returning to this large, but well-run campground.
The park doesn’t take reservations so it’s first-come first-served. Sometimes you’ll get lucky but it’s always a gamble. The time I did end up getting a site here it was small and I felt elbow-to-elbow with other campers. If you don’t mind primitive camping, I’d suggest camping elsewhere in the park, or try for Loft Mountain. This campground provides bear boxes.
Big Meadows Campground was wonderful. Facilities were clean and well maintained. Bear box for food storage. Loved seeing the deer so close and other wildlife. Fire ring with grate was available. Large site size. We had site 23. Highly recommend!