Horse Camping

Shenandoah National Park has no facilities for horses to stay overnight. The campgrounds and concessioner are not able to accommodate horses. Horses may not be kept at the lodges or left in trailers overnight. Several commercial facilities near the park will board horses and their riders overnight to facilitate early starts on the trail. Contact the Virginia Horse Council, a listing of Boarding and Training Facilities in VA, or local Chambers of Commerce for nearby horse stable information.

Things to Know When Camping with Horses

  • Backcountry camping with horses can damage backcountry resources. Riders are urged to take precautions to reduce impact on vegetation. Although it is permitted in the park, camping with horses is discouraged.
  • For all overnight camping in the Shenandoah National Park backcountry, visitors must obtain a free backcountry permit and observe all backcountry camping regulations. Backcountry regulations require all campers to camp at least 20 yards from and preferably out of sight of trails and fire roads. Please lead your horse carefully to your camping area to minimize damage to the vegetation and avoid creating new “trails.”
  • Horses must remain on the trails at all times while traveling and should be led carefully to off-trail campsites.
  • Grazing is not permitted; you must bring your own feed for your horses. We recommend that you use certified clear feed for your animals since oats and hay may bring damaging non-native grass species into the park.
  • When camped, use the highlining technique to secure your horses to minimize damage to trees and other vegetation. Refer to Leave No Trace highlining techniques (online or call 1-800-332-4100). Tie the horse(s) off to a highline away from trees and rocks. Use “belts” such as tow straps around trees to protect the bark. Do not tie off the lead directly to the highline, but use a swivel or cord to keep the lead from knotting from horse movement. Try to highline your horses out of sight of trails and roads. Do not tie horses within 50 yards of streams or springs. Upon leaving the site, please scatter manure and rehabilitate the highline site.

Learn more about maps to help you find your way around and about the Park's boundary access points (83kb pdf).

 

Horse Camping Trip Plans

Below are two one-night trips starting and traveling mostly within Shenandoah National Park, but camping in Rapidan Wildlife Management Area. Rapidan Wildlife Management Area is administered by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).

Slaughter Ridge and Conway River (38kb pdf)
This 14 to 16 mile length trip leaves from the Meadow School Trailhead and descends the mountain to camp in the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area.

Rapidan, Fork Mountain & Rose River (41kb pdf)
This 17 to 22 mile length trip leaves from the Rapidan Road parking area, travels through the historic Rapidan Camp, and descends the mountain to camp in the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area.

Last updated: November 21, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835

Phone:

(540) 999-3500

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