Secluded in the thick trees and rolling hills of Shenandoah National Park, the Big Meadows Campground is the ideal spot for an outdoors getaway.
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
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
Big Meadows is the ideal place to stay in Shenandoah. A large, community campground in close proximity to the visitor center, store, gas, and a restaurant. Sites are decently spaced but widely vary in length (check before you book because parking off the gravel is not allowed). Bears frequently visit the campground so make sure you put away your trash and food and walk loudly on the trails. Speaking of trails, there are tons of nearby trail options, for every level of intensity. Wifi and cell signal is non-existent (Verizon) but both are available at the visitor center and nearby lodge. Oh, and when it rains, the ground is non-absorbant. The campground is on a slope so expect your site to become soggy, if not an actual river. The showers and bathrooms were decently clean, though not spectacular (the showers cost $1.75 for 5 minutes, hot water was hit and miss). We had to leave early because our battery was not charging, but would have loved to stayed longer. Would recommend and visit again.
As a youth I camped in Big Meadows for two weeks every summer with my parents, and this was my first trip back in nearly 30 years. We booked walk-in site number 35, which is the first site off the parking area. Despite being so close, it was secluded and well shaded. This site does not include a bear box due to its close proximity to your car, which is a minor hassle when preparing meals, but you absolutely must adhere to the rules regarding food storage when not in use within your vehicle or bear box (where available).
During the week of our stay we saw bears daily, hunting for acorns in the forested areas surrounding the sites that were slightly further back from ours. I've attached some photos I'd captured of them, as well as, some deer that paid us no mind as they meandered right through our site several times a day. The bears were active mid afternoon to shortly before sunset and are very skilled at climbing trees. When we left the site to run errands and such we would check the trees before we walked in, as one afternoon we were sitting by the fire and unbeknownst to us one had climbed up a tree during our absence. He decided to high tail it out of there after we settled in. The tree was a mere 40 yards away in a nearby site. They generally want nothing to do with us humans but if cornered they will feel threatened and become aggressive.
The showers are absolutely the best I have ever encountered in all my years of camping, so I happily paid the $1.75 for 5.25 minutes. The water is hot and the stalls are clean and much nicer than my own bathroom at home.
The laundry facility is $1.00 for each unit and the washer takes :30 minutes to complete and the dryer cycle is about the same, although I had only done a small load towards the end of our trip, and it was completely dry in :15 minutes.
The wood sold at the shower building is hit or miss, they sell two types one in yellow nets and one red. According to the attendant they were the same kiln dried wood but just from different manufacturers. The wood in the yellow burned better and sold out faster during our trip for whatever reason. The Walmart in Luray sells wood (which is okay to use in the park, provided it has the USDA symbol on the packaging) and at nearly half the price burned a lot longer and better.
The camp store is well stocked with camping gadgets, canned goods, bread, snacks, toiletries and cleaning products. There is a small freezer section with individually wrapped meats, such as, burgers, steak and chicken breast which was a plus. They also had a nice beer selection. Prices are reasonable, similar to that of a convenience store. Gas was only .10 cents more than the valley which isn't too bad considering. We had a meal each at both the wayside and the lodge and they were both good and a nice change from prepping meals at the site.
The rangers were great, helpful and informative. I was mildly worried after reading some of the reviews here, because our group included a few musicians and guitars were played and songs were sung. As long as you adhere to the quite hours you will have no issues.
Ranger programs were offered every other day at the amphitheater and there were various presentations at the visitor center
The utility sink near the bathrooms that are scattered throughout the campground is very handy for washing dishes but do not throw food out there. Scrape the food off your dishware/cookware into a bag and throw it out at the trash bins before washing. Twice over the first weekend the sink was clogged and completely unusable and had to be cleared by park maintenance. It can and WILL attract bears if left in that condition.
Overall, this is a beautiful and well maintained place to place to pitch a tent and I highly recommend it.
We had a great time at Big Meadows campground despite our hopes that we could still purchase firewood after 5:00! We enjoyed the sunset a few miles down at the Point Lookout and had a small fire with twigs. Still a great time!
Tons of great hiking trails many with views of beautiful waterfalls. We took our lab and she enjoyed the trails as much as we did! One night we camped out at Big Meadows campground and got to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The next two nights we stayed in an awesome dog friendly cabin at the Big Meadows Lodge. They were so accommodating for our furry friend. We were given a cabin with its our screened in porch just for her to enjoy. (Not many cabins have this feature) They even gave her a cute trail dog bandana which she wore with pride on our hikes. At night there was a nice little spot close to the campsite to hike up and see the beautiful expanse of stars. The best stars I’ve ever seen! Another exciting feature were all the wildlife. We saw so many chipmunks, deer and even a few snakes. The coolest part was seeing some black bears in the trees ! Awesome to see and we also felt very safe for park rangers were very attentive to keeping everyone at safe distances. Totally recommend these gem in VA!