Frequently Asked Questions About Backcountry Camping

While I am backcountry camping, where can I park my vehicle?

You may park overnight in Shenandoah while camping in the Park's backcountry. Your backcountry itinerary dictates where you will park. For example, if you are entering the backcountry at Milam Gap, you will park at Milam Gap. You may park at trailheads where parking is provided, and at entrance stations if space permits. Visitor Centers, picnic areas, waysides, and overlooks also have parking space. Be sure you are not blocking Skyline Drive, administrative/fire roads, or overlooks.Lock your vehicle and put valuables in the trunk or take them with you. You will include parking and vehicle information on your backcountry camping permit. Your backcountry camping permit stays with you; do not leave your backcountry permit in your vehicle. For information on boundary parking, please see the Boundary Access Information.

Can I catch a shuttle in Shenandoah?

There are no authorized shuttle providers in Shenandoah National Park. You will need to make your own arrangements for transportation to, from, and within the Park. For information on transportation options along the A.T. go here.

Do I need a permit to camp in the backcountry?
Yes. If you are camping in the backcountry (not in one of the five campgrounds) you must have a properly completed backcountry permit. Permits are free.

Do I need to reserve a backcountry permit in advance?
No. You can get your permit when you arrive at entrance stations and visitor centers when they are staffed, or at a self-registration kiosk. Self-registration kiosks are at the following locations:

  • A.T. North
  • Front Royal Entrance Station at mile 0 of Skyline Drive
  • Thornton Gap Entrance Station at mile 31.5
  • Swift Run Entrance Station at mile 65.5
  • Loft Mountain Wayside at mile 79.5
  • A.T. South
  • Old Rag Trailhead parking area at Etlan, Va.

If you use self-registration, please be sure to fill out the permit completely!

I want to camp along the A.T., on Old Rag, or near Whiteoak Canyon. Will I be able to find a site?
It is extremely difficult to find a legal site in those areas because of the very high levels of visitor use combined with very limited camping opportunities. Days of the week and time of year can impact your chances of success. If you are considering a backcountry trip to any of these areas, please call the backcountry office for advice. (540) 999-3500 ext. 3720.

Last updated: March 10, 2020

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Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


(540) 999-3500

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