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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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14  Thank SJMPARMAN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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10  Thank gatorfan2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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19  Thank ADK_XJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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 south of camp.
  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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14  Thank markcas123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2011

I loved the views from this campground and the number of trails we could get to without ever getting in the car. We had a "hike in" spot, which could have felt a bit more private, but the trees at that elevation simply aren't that thick or large.

One issue we had was with a VERY insistent raccoon. He tried to raid our food from about two feet away. We learned quickly to close the bear box even if you are only turning around for a few minutes. They are sneaky, quick and not shy at all!

  • Stayed: August 2010, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank sarahguent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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