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BEST AREAS FOR WILDERNESS CAMPING

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

This scenic National Park stretches 80 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Virginia. Included here are many mountains in the 3,000-4,000 foot range, with countless views. Highest point is 4,051-foot Hawksbill Mountain.

There are cliffs, rocky knobs, outcroppings, and some small canyons. The park also has a large number of streams and waterfalls, open meadows, and forests of hardwoods, with some hemlock and fir, plus mountain laurel and pink azalea. Among the wildlife are black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcat, and fox.

Much of Shenandoah is preserved as wilderness. The park is just a few miles wide on the average, however, and the Skyline Drive runs down the middle, providing easy access, but limiting the remoteness of most areas.

Activities: Hiking and backpacking are available on 500 miles of trails, including a 95-mile segment of the Appalachian Trail. Difficulty ranges from easy to strenuous. Most trails here are graded, with switchbacks. Relatively few are truly steep.

About 200 miles of trails are open to horseback riding, and cross-country skiing is possible on many trails during winter. Bike use is restricted to public roads. Fishing is also available. Hunting is prohibited.

Camping Regulations: Camping is allowed in most areas of the park, but campsites must be completely out of sight of trails, shelters, roads, and other campers. It’s also necessary to be at least 25

feet from streams, 250 yards from roads, and one-half mile from public use areas.

A backcountry camping permit is required, and may be obtained either by mail or in person from park headquarters, visitors centers, or self-registration centers. Maximum stay allowed at a campsite is two nights. Group size is limited to 10.

While there’s a system of trail shelters in the park, these may no longer be used for camping except in severe weather or emergencies. Campfires are allowed only at shelter fireplaces. Glass containers may not be carried into the back-country.

For Further Information: Shenandoah National Park, Luray, VA 22835; (703)999-2266.

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