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“Beautiful camping site with lots of deer”

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Big Meadows Campground
Certificate of Excellence
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Beautiful camping site with lots of deer”
Reviewed 15 September 2012

We went camping for 4 nights (9/10 - 9/14). We stayed at the walk-to site in the woods #47. The site wasn't quite level, so when we were trying to sleep we kept sliding down the hill in our tent. It was chilly in the evenings, much colder than we had expected. We had to wear extra clothes in our sleeping bags to stay warm. So be prepared for chilly nights if you go in September or later.

We had a picnic table and a fire pit, and the kids really enjoyed having a fire every night. The camp ground was well maintained. The bathrooms were close by and had a utility sink for doing dishes.

The showers were located near the entrance and cost $1 for a 5 minute hot shower. Firewood was available for sale for $5.25 a bundle, and a bundle would last us a couple of nights. We also loved that the Wayside store was only a 5 minute drive for those things you might have forgotten or if you wanted some hot food.

There were lots of campers with dogs. We also had our two with us. All the dogs were well behaved and it appeared that everyone picked up after their pet.

There were lots of trails to walk nearby. Plus, there were always plenty of deer to see in the mornings and early evenings.

We look forward to going again at some point.

  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
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6 Thank Anita H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2012 via mobile

Spent 3 nights on 3 different sites over the course of a week. Stayed on sites 49, 50 and E185. 49 and 50 were hike in sites. Both sites were very quiet. E185 had a nice view of the surrounding mountains and at night you could see the lights of the town in the valley. We stayed in a tent and 185 was very rocky to sleep on.

We love this campground! Showers and bathrooms were very clean and the staff was very friendly. Never saw bears in the campground but the deer were everywhere.

  • Stayed August 2012
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Helpful?
4 Thank ppmccormick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 July 2012

We did a multi-family tent camping trip. Both families involved have teenagers.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a park volunteer (Paul - a grinner not a picker!) who told us everything we needed to know about bear safety. He also warned us about the skunks. He was funny and knowledgeable. We took his advice and did not have any issues with bears.

We did in fact have an encounter with a skunk who happened to like our camp sites. We had our dog with us who wanted to go after the skunk. In the ruckus, I slammed my toe on the picnic table and broke it. But nobody got skunked! There were also deer that just wandered through the campsites.

The Ranger at the ranger station was also very helpful. We asked him for advice about hiking trails. He gave us a map, highlighted the trails that met our needs, and gave us advice about those specific trails.

The camp store is very well stocked, but VERY expensive. (A half gallon of milk was $4.50) We wound up going to the Walmart in Luray for supplies on the one night we decided to eat out.

The nighttime sky is wonderful. You can see the milky way! We had fantastic weather until our last night and then we had wild wild wild weather. We were in tents for the storm that killed 14 people and knocked out power to over 3 million people. The next morning, Paul, the volunteer came checking on everyone. He informed us of the various park conditions and let us know that the lodge had its own generator and was serving breakfast.

The bathrooms were clean. Showers were coin operated - $1.00 got you 5 minutes of hot water. Shower stalls were okay, but not great.

Because our trip was right before the July 4 holiday, it was probably more crowded than usual.That was only apparent in the the evening, though. Because of my toe, I got to experience the campground during the day. Most people leave to go to various hiking/viewing sites, so it is extremely quiet. That is the only time I was afraid of bears. I felt like I was the only one there.

All-in-all a fantastic trip. I highly recommend Big Meadows. http://mamaflynn.blogspot.com/2012/07/oh-shenandoah-ive-been-to-see-you-and.html

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
9 Thank MamaFlynn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Burke, VA
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 June 2012

I don't want to be judgemental but in reply to the vacationer from NY on the way to NC. The signs into the campground clearly specify you are in BEAR COUNTRY. That means you don't put food into your tent or other things that would attract a bear. Leave those things in the Bear Box and the Bear won't try to get into your tent. I am not saying you did that but these bears in Shenandoah are relatively benign creatures. They are far more afraid of humans than we are of them. I have camped here about ten times, and never had a bear encounter that close. I have seen them countless times though, but never in the campgrounds. You are more likely to encounter a skunk than a bear in the campground. And yes, I have had an aggressive skunk skirt my tent multiple times looking for food. Once, my kid rolled during sleep when it was near the tent, and the smell was not pleasant. But that is camping. I have a personal story I share with my kids about a skunk 5 feet long with vicious fangs that I have named big bubba, but that is a different story reserved for them to go to sleep.

This is a great park. It was built as part of the "New Deal" when America was facing tough times and found a great way to make our country better by putting unemployed men to work. It wasn't easy work, and in many ways, it was dangerous work, but those men built a legacy worth remembering. I try to remind my kids of the effort of those who volunteered for this work to make this possible, and how, generations later, we reap the dividends.

This is flat out, the greatest national park ever built. If you want to get away from it all, but still have certain amenities, the Big Meadows Campground is second to none. The Lodge is also awesome for different reasons. The rooms were extremely clean and the views were also spectacular. For selfish reasons, I hope anyone reading the bear encounter review will not camp there. That will insure I will get the spot I want this summer. But to be honest, if you follow the rules, that won't happen in this campground.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
14 Thank SJMPARMAN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 April 2012

Camped here for two nights with my wife. Campground is a great base for exploring the park, close to most sites. We had a small two-person tent so opted for the walk-in sites at the back of the campground. This was a great decision as these sites are spaced further apart and more heavily wooded. When we arrived at our site it was dark out. We were able to drive right to our site, pitch our tent, and go to bed. we checked in at the ranger station the next morning, no problem. A word to the wise- skyline drive gets quite foggy at night and driving conditions can be perilous. Would advise arriving during daylight hours if at all possible. The next morning we were greeted by a group of deer lounging in the grass outside our tent! Despite the massive size of the campground we felt reasonably isolated in our little tent camping with the deer. Not sure if we would have enjoyed it as much if we were in one of the drive-in sites in the middle of the campground though.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank gatorfan2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saratoga Springs, New York
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 December 2011

My girlfriend and I decided to stay here as a nice halfway point on a road trip to Western NC from Upstate NY. She's never been a big camper but I cajoled her into this one based on the time of year (mid September) and the money we saved not going to a hotel. I couldn't say enough for how beautiful the park and overlooks are, truly stunning.

However, it was unseasonably cold and I was surprised to be told by the ranger at the park entrance that there was no firewood available for purchase in the evening. If you can't bring wood in and can't buy it, that's an issue - and it was. I've camped a lot and realize the risks of wildlife, but the ranger could have also warned us the (we found out later) known level of aggressive bear encounters at the campground. We saw several deer, foxes and even two bear cubs on our way in but thought nothing of it seeing as it was a full campsite at Big Meadow.

To keep this from rambling on, we had no firewood and I made a quick meal for a frustrated but chin-up companion before we decided to turn in. Sometime around midnight I woke up to my girlfriend shaking me awake and saying there was something outside. I told her to go back to sleep and then heard snorting, before the bear's shadow went across our tent. We were silent until the bear nosed under the bottom of our tent and pulled it out of the ground and began accordioning it in on us. I yelled, shook the tent and swung around with a covered hatchet. The bear finally ran off and we spent the night not sleeping in our car after making a mad dash for it.

This is a beautiful park, but I've never had an encounter like that in years of camping and I've since read that this area is known for bear encounters. I think the NPS could do a better job explicitly stating that fact on their site and from the rangers, and I can't help but think a fire would have made a big difference. Needless to say it will be a loooong time before my girlfriend goes camping again.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
17 Thank ADK_XJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Baltimore, MD
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 September 2011

We stayed here for our camping/hiking trip a few days ago, and loved it! We chose remote tent site 52, which was really nice. It had a flat tent pad, close access to the bathrooms, and dumpsters, but not too close. It has a nice clean fire pit, a picnic table, and a bear locker. This campground, and the surrounding areas are positively thick with both Deer and Black bears, we saw many of both, along with quite a few Monarch butterfly caterpillars, and chrysalis. The nights in mid September where cool, with warm days. The Big Meadows lodge is well within walking distance, and the camp, and especially our tent site(52) was within a 2 minute walk of the Appalachian Trail(AT). You can access pretty much everything via walking(depending on your health) and there are awesome trails within 2 miles walk of tent site 52 within Big Meadows. At night we could here the Deer walking around our tent, which at first was a little troubling, as it sounded like people, but we got used to that.

This camp is extremely clean, and well maintained, with all the amenities you would need while camping. A nice lodge, if you want to go out to diner. A VERY nice, and well stocked camp store within walking, or a very short drive, and a gas station to help you fuel up to drive Skyline Drive.

You can get cell service by walking behind site 52, taking the AT South for 200 to 300 yards, and there is an outcropping of rocks, where you will get probably the best cell service available in that area. You can generally get Verizon cell service at the Big Meadows Lodge, or 10 feet in front of the double entry doors at the Big Meadows, camp store.

There are water spickets throughout camp, and plenty of clean bathrooms, as well as hot showers that SURPRISINGLY get hot right away. At the time of this writing, you get a 5 minute shower for 1 dollar. We used these once, and they were great after hiking miles. They even have a heat lamp in them, for the colder nights.

We found both the rangers, and the camp host to be very nice, and helpful.

We found the staff at the Big Meadows Lodge, and camp store to be very polite, helpful, and friendly.

I will stay here again in a heart beat. We really loved it. I will try to attach a video to this review, so you can see some of the area for yourself.

In mid September, the camp was only 1/4 to 1/2 full at any given time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-4z3kupivI

Mark :)

Room Tip: Get Verizon cell service from the Big Meadows Lodge, or from the Appalachian trail 200 to 300 yards...
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank markcas123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Big Meadows Campground

Property: Big Meadows Campground
Address: Mile 51.3 Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, VA
Region: United States > Virginia > Shenandoah National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 8 Speciality Lodging in Shenandoah National Park
Number of rooms: 217
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Offers 217 campsites with full ammenities. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Big Meadows Campground Hotel Shenandoah National Park

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