Backcountry Camping

Shenandoah National Park has 196,000 acres of backcountry and wilderness and over 500 miles of trails to explore. Backcountry camping allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty and challenge of Shenandoah's wild side. With some preparation, you can discover a world beyond where the pavement ends.

Backcountry and wilderness camping is, by it very nature, a primitive experience that truly centers on the quality of self-reliance in it participants! The information on this website will guide you and address most questions as you prepare to be on your own and immersed in nature.

Planning your trip and understanding the regulations that will protect you and the backcountry should be done with care and with the resources provided here. At this time, Shenandoah National Park does not have staff available to do trip planning with you. Please study the information here to get the most from your backcountry experience!

Get Prepared

  • Know the rules. Carefully review Shenandoah's backcountry rules and regulations and have your trip itinerary planned before obtaining a backcountry camping permit.
  • Spend time planning. Before obtaining a backcountry permit spend some time reviewing the backcountry planning page. Evaluate your groups outdoor skill level, expectations, and plan an itinerary ahead of time.
  • Bring proper equipment. The right equipment will help minimize your impact on resources, help ensure you don't violate park regulations, and help keep yourself safe. This includes approved bear resistant food canisters or an adequate amount of rope to properly hang food away from wildlife, a backpacking stove and proper fuel to cook food or to boil water (campfires are not permitted), a small trowel to dig a cathole to bury human waste, a water container and a good water filter, water purifier, or purification tablets to make water safe to drink, and use pre-packaged food or zip-lock bags. More about food storage in the backcountry here.
  • Get a map. A good topographic map is essential for a backcountry trip. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Shenandoah National Park Association sell topographic maps of Shenandoah National Park.
  • Stay safe. Review our backcountry safety page, know the water sources near you, and be aware of wildlife viewing safety.
  • Is backcountry camping for you? You must be physically and mentally prepared to hike yourself and all of your gear at least a half mile, set up camp, deal with the elements, and follow Leave No Trace. If you have concerns about backcountry camping, our campgrounds have nice tent sites available and there are various camping options in the nearby George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

Last updated: July 2, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


(540) 999-3500

Contact Us