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
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!
Central location to all the scenic hikes and summits. Camp store and restaurant~1.5 mile from the campsite is super convenient. Plenty of black bears wander in the campgrounds in the mornings. In summer months bring a rain canopy for the picnic tables. Down pours come hard and fast, which would drown our campfire within moments.
Nice facilities (shower, bathrooms, garbage, etc.), but the campsites themselves leave a bit to be desired.
Pros: deer wander the grounds, making for some beautiful morning animal encounters. Seems to be family-friendly. Very fair quiet hours. Easy access to a number of great hiking trails! We had a blast hiking the Rose River trail and part of the AT for one whole day.
Cons: Uneven ground all over the reserved site made it so our tent had to be pitched at an angle. The fire pit was strange due to the grilles covering half of it (would prefer to have just had a simple pit instead). Also the firewood we were sold was abysmal; it sputtered and smoked instead of burning cleanly. This made cooking extremely frustrating, so I will be bringing my own (certified and labeled) firewood next time.
Conviently located near many hikes and the stores.
Big Meadows is the most centrally located campground within Shenandoah. It’s near a huge meadow full of paths to explore. Great place to see the stars at night too. The campground itself is popular so if you’re seeking something more remote and private this isn’t the place to sleep for you. Watch out for deer.
For hiking and camping alone as often as I do I was a big fan of this site. I was able to find something fairly secluded from people but still within close range of a store, and a restaurant. Shenandoah is awesome
Big Meadows is in a great location in the middle of Shenandoah NP. It has numerous trails you can access from the campground. The bathrooms are basic and well maintained. There is potable water available close. The shower facilities were some of the cleanest public showers I've ever used.
We enjoyed the park and the hikes and would definitely return again to this campsite. Tip- the visitor center has air conditioning, a cute little museum, and wifi!
Pros: -Bear boxes for hike-in sites -Numerous trash, recycling and ash bins throughout the site -Park store(s) in and around the campground -Some trails in the campground -Central location in the park -Lots of wildlife
Cons: -Sites are hit or miss; luckily I was able to swap out my reserved hike-in site (where I had to walk through two other sites to get to it plus had a hiking trail right behind it) for a non-reservable hike-in site -Most sites are really close with little to no separation -Paid 1.75 for the coldest five minute shower of my life -Bathrooms were okay; I'll thank my fellow campers for keeping things as clean as could be