Shenandoah Backcountry Permits

Shenandoah Backcountry Permits

Did you know that Shenandoah National Park now requires permits for overnight stays in the backcountry? Permits for Old Rag parking have been required since 2022, and the backcountry permits have been required since January 2024. Let's take a look at the process.

For this example, let's plan a 2-night trip in the North District of the park, starting at Hogback AT Parking Area (MP 21.1) and ending at Neighbor Mountain Trail Access Parking (MP 26.7). We'll plan to use the Overall Run, Beecher Ridge, Knob Mountain, and Neighbor Mountain trails. We'll camp the first night near the Overall Run/ Beecher Ridge intersection and the second night near the Knob Mountain/ Jeremy's Run intersection. These details will be important when completing the permit. Here's a map showing the plan.

1. Go to recreation.gov to apply for the permit. You'll need to create an account if you don't already have one. Alternatively,  you can call (877) 444-6777, but you will no longer be able to obtain a paper permit at the park.

2. Enter the party size, dates, and general location (North District is everything north of Thornton Gap/ US211, Central District is Thornton Gap/ US211 to Swift Run Gap/ US33, and South District is everything south of Swift Run Gap/ US33). For this example, we'll have a party of 2 starting June 28 in the North District.

3. Select the zones for camping. Check the details for "Tuscarora - Overall Run Trails" zone and the "AT - Jeremy's - Neighbor - Knob" zone to confirm that's where we want to camp.

We confirm that our first night is in the "Tuscarora - Overall Run Trails" zone and the second night is in the "AT - Jeremy's - Neighbor - Knob" zone, so we select these zones.

4. Go to checkout, where we'll log in to recreation.gov and provide details about vehicles and access points. For this permit, we'll enter at Hogback AT Parking Area (MP 21.1) and exit at Neighbor Mountain Trail Access Parking (MP 26.7), so we select these from the drop-down menu. We can enter multiple vehicles as required.

5. Proceed to cart and complete payment. The fees are $6 for the permit, plus $9 per person, regardless of the number of nights. Pay your entrance fee or show your entrance pass when you arrive at the park. Everything on the the permit, except for the start date, can be modified until it is downloaded or printed. A paper or electronic copy of the permit must be presented on demand to a ranger, but there is no need to leave any permit information on your vehicle.

To accommodate Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, there is a special "Appalachian Trail" starting area, and specific camping zones are not required. The permit cost is not dependent on the number of nights booked, so the total cost is $15 for a single hiker in 2024.

 

Please respect all regulations, and particularly note the following:

  • Permitted groups may not exceed ten individuals. If group is greater than ten, a second permit must be obtained. The two groups must camp at least 50 yards from each other and function independently of each other while camping.
  • Campfires are not permitted in the backcountry except in pre-constructed fireplaces at park huts/shelters. Backpacking stoves may be used.
  • Camping is prohibited in certain areas due to proximity to roads or or campgrounds, or for resources protection. Please respect the signs in these areas.
  • Permits can be reserved up to 90 days in advance of your trip. Permits may also be booked the same day your trip begins.

Useful links:

Reservations at recreation.gov

National Park Service suggested Shenandoah backcountry trips

Upward Hiking suggested routes with maps, pictures, and campsite locations

 

 

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