Backcountry Camping


in Shenandoah National Park

Backcountry Camping

Backcountry camping is, by its very nature, a primitive experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty and challenge of Shenandoah’s wild side. 

Backcountry Camping Options

The Park has 196,000 acres of wilderness and over 500 miles of trails to explore. A free permit is required for backcountry camping. Most of Shenandoah National Park, including its wilderness, is open to backcountry camping. 

 You may fill out an online backcountry camping permit or visit a self-registration station at one of the following locations:

  • A.T. North entry point
  • Front Royal Entrance Station (mile 0 of Skyline Drive)
  • Panorama Comfort Station, near Thornton Gap Entrance Station (mile 31.5)
  • Swift Run Entrance Station (mile 65.5)
  • Loft Mountain Wayside (mile 79.5)
  • Rockfish Gap Entrance Station (mile 105)
  • A.T. South entry point
  • Old Rag Trailhead parking area at Etlan, Va.

Store your food properly.

Believe it or not, storing your food properly while in Shenandoah is one of the most important steps you can take to protect wildlife and help keep yourself safe. Allowing a bear, or any other wild animal, to obtain human food, even once, can lead to aggressive behavior.

Campfires are not permitted in the backcountry.

Unattended or poorly-managed campfires have caused thousands of acres of wildland fires to burn in Shenandoah. Illegal campfires also sterilize the ground, scar rocks, and consume wood that turns into the soil that plants need to thrive. Because of this, campfires are only permitted at park-constructed fireplaces found at Appalachian Trail huts and day-use shelters. If you want to have a campfire, consider staying in one of our developed campgrounds or at nearby National Forest Service land.

For more information on backcountry camping regulations, click HERE.

There’s so much to see!

So,  what should I do first?

We know there is a lot to see and do in the Park.  So we decided to create a seasonal top 10 lists for those who have only limited time. We asked park rangers to give us their best recommendations. Learn more about what they suggested: the Top 10 Things to Do in Shenandoah National Park.