If you haven't already done so, you should consider a camping trip to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This beautiful natural area is a hotspot for camping in Virginia, and for good reason. This national park is known for its cascading waterfalls and gorgeous vistas. Located just 75 miles away from Washington, D.C., this national park is a must-see if you love natural beauty, hiking, and just spending time in nature. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a black bear.
If you’re planning on camping in Shenandoah Valley, there are quite a few sights and activities to enjoy. We broke down a few of them for you to consider on your upcoming trip.
One popular Shenandoah National Park camping activity has to be driving Skyline Drive. This 105-mile road travels north and south along the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s the only proper road through Shenandoah National Park, and it’s a great road to drive if you want to do some sight-seeing.
On average, visitors can travel the entirety of the park via Skyline Drive in about three hours. Keep in mind that the weather can be a bit unpredictable in this region, especially around winter. If difficult weather occurs, the Park will close Skyline Drive at any time. Your best bet would be to contact the Park to verify the road’s status. You are still allowed to enter the National Park by foot if needed.
There are four different entry points along Skyline Drive. These include:
● Front Royal Entrance Station by Route 66 and 340
● Thornton Gap Entrance Station at Route 211
● Swift Run Gap Entrance Station at Route 33
● Rockfish Gap Entrance Station at Route 64 and Route 250
It’s worth noting that the Rockfish Gap Entrance is also the northern entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Skyline Drive is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Do you love camping but prefer a comfortable lodge with running water as opposed to a rough tent in the woods? Either way, you should definitely look into visiting the camp at Skyland.
This venue and lodging area within the park launched in 1888 before Shenandoah National Park became an official, actual national park. It is located at about 3,680, one of the highest points accessible for Skyline Drive.
At Skyland, you’ll enjoy chef-prepared regional cuisine, guided rides on horseback, and a wealth of seasonal events. Skyland is also a popular destination for weddings, retreats, and other larger events. Nearby, guests can also enjoy rock climbing, rappelling, hiking trails, waterfalls, beaches, and more.
The views from this lodging area are truly incredible. Just as well, the camp itself is quite luxurious. Choose from over 178 different rooms, be it a rustic cabin or a comfortable renovated suite. If you’d like to bring your pet along, dogs are allowed as well. We recommend looking for a room between April and October.
You simply cannot take a camping trip to Virginia without enjoying a good hike through one of the many Shenandoah National Park trails available!
The Appalachian Trail is obviously the most well-known trail to explore in this area. Accessible from Shenandoah National Park, the famed 2,181-mile path cuts into the park for about 101 miles. The trail loops around the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, similar to Skyline Drive. In fact, the trail crosses Skyline Drive a number of times. Hiking this trail can be a really stellar adventure, whether you’re looking for a casual walk or an intensive backpacking trip.
Old Rag Mountain Trail is another great trail, albeit a much more difficult one. This trail is one of many at the park, but it’s definitely the most challenging trek. Old Rag Mountain reaches a height of 3,284 feet, complete with rocky terrain. Most hikers will take the 9-mile loop trail that starts in the parking area near Route 601. This intensive route can take up to eight hours to finish, so we recommend making a day out of your climb up Old Rag Mountain. Because of the intensity of this hike, we don’t recommend bringing children or dogs along.
For newbies to hiking or families with children, Dark Hollow Falls Trail is a very pleasant and easy trail to take on. Dark Hollow Falls Trail might have a spooky name, but this trail is actually quite vibrant and beautiful. At an elevation of 3,429 feet, this trail is one of the most loved trails in the park.
While Dark Hollow Falls Trail is an easy hike, keep in mind that some areas can be quite steep. This trail is only about a mile and a half and is a loop trek towards Dark Hollow Falls. The path is also quite broad, so you’ll have plenty of room to accommodate strollers and other hikers. Beautifully maintained and offering incredible sights of waterfalls and rare fauna, this trail is the one to take if you want some stellar photos of your trip.
The activities are almost never-ending in Shenandoah National Park!
If you love camping, you have quite a few options when it comes to finding a place to set up camp. You have the choice of staying in one of five different campgrounds around the park or roughing it in the 196,000 acres of backcountry and woods in the park. We recommend the latter if you’re an experienced camper or backpacker, as the woods can be a little difficult to navigate. There are bears in Shenandoah National Park, so use caution and also store your food and trash properly. For the busy season in the summer and spring, we recommend making a reservation if you plan on camping in one of the campgrounds. Seniors also get a half-off discount on their camping fees.
Do you love fishing? Why not spend an afternoon at Shenandoah River? Another popular activity in the park is fishing. Shenandoah National Park has a large system of native brook trout that make up the ecosystem of streams that flow from Shenandoah River and Thornton River. Fishing is allowed to reduce overpopulation. Visitors can enjoy over seventy different gorgeous mountain streams. Just keep in mind that there are a number of license requirements and guidelines to adhere to when fishing ethically in the park.
Horseback riding is another popular activity in Shenandoah National Park. You have the option of bringing your own horse to explore the over 180 miles of horse-accessible trails, or you can go on a horseback riding excursion via several different horseback riding tours in the area. Between spring and autumn, you can easily contact Skyland to arrange a guided trail. If you’re bringing your own horse, be mindful of the park’s horse use regulations and only travel on trails that are marked with yellow signage.
Shenandoah National Park is an amazing destination to consider for your next camping trip!
Photo source: Pixabay