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Review of Mathews Arm Campground

Mathews Arm Campground
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Mathews Arm Campground
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Mile 22.1 Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, VA   |  
Hotel amenities
Moorestown, New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2011

i've been going for years ,about 10 or 12 years now. i think it's a great place to go for camping,hiking,and sight seeing. I'm getting older now, and wish I could still hike like I used to, but still do the campground loop,and other short hikes. I wish I new of this place when I was younger. The bears are a big atraction,and the deer are neat too. the only thing that i don't like is there are no showers.

Stayed September 2010, traveled solo
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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32 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (5)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Frederick, Maryland
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2011

We stayed for one Saturday night in October during the peak fall color season. We weren't able to make a reservation at our favorite spot, Big Meadows, because after a certain date during the year, all campsites are first-come, first-served. So, we left Maryland early (ok, not as early as we planned), and headed down to Shenandoah. We entered the park at Thornton Gap, hoping to get a spot at Big Meadows. There was a long line of cars at the entrance, and a sign saying that all campgrounds were full! Frustrated, I turned the car around and went back down the mountain. BF and I discussed possibly finding a place to stay in Luray, but decided to at least do some sight-seeing, so we drove back UP the mountain to the entrance again, and the sign says there is vacancy at Mathews Arm. We raced (as much as you can at 45 mph speed limit!) and got to choose a spot at the campground. The people working the check-in were very nice and helpful. The campground is fine if it is what is available. There are no showers, which wasn't a problem since we only stayed one night. We did not see any wildlife in the campground and the camp store area was CROWDED! Leaf peepers had to stand in VERY long lines for food and bathrooms. Word to the wise: if you are doing a day trip in fall, bring a picnic! Do not waste time in line to buy sandwiches/burgers. The weather and sights were absolutely beautiful in October, but my BF and I both kept comparing Mathews Arm to Big Meadows and agreed that it just wasn't the same.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Annapolis, Maryland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2010

It is a scenic area, but the rangers were very bad tempered. We had a group of 5 families with children from 5 to 16 yrs old and adults 35-45 yrs old. After 10pm the rangers came up and very nastily told us it was "quiet time and we needed to go to sleep or he was going to fine us each $130!?!?!" We were not being loud, and were only adults sitting up and talking around the campfire. I chalked it up as he was having a bad night but the following night he came back again and just as rude. We were even intentionally trying to be as quiet as possible, the second night but his response was "you are a large group and it wasn't possible for us to be quiet and we needed to go to bed" Then the rangers started walking through our campsite pointing spotlights in our tents and vehicles with no regard for our privacy? Meanwhile the site 3 down had dogs yipping and barking constantly the whole time. Will never visit again and would not reccomend to anyone.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pasadena, Maryland
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2010

We arrived Friday with a large group of people and a few kids and 2 dogs ready to have a great weekend and enjoy staying up late talking around the camp fire. Well for starters, who ever did the site layouts did a horrible job! The picnic tables were way too close to the campfire and the tables nor fire pit could be moved, not that is was THAT big of a deal but we dealt with it. So Friday night we are sitting around talking and laughing and enjoying the great weather about 11pm when we were approached by 3 campground security officers telling us there was a no noise tolerance past 10pm and that he advised us all to go to bed and if we kept it up that he would come back and fine each person $130?!? While one of the other officers was going through our open cars with flash lights??????????? Mind you, we are all adults here with a few children who were only talking and laughing. So we all went to bed as told! Saturday night same thing! it was not even 10pm yet when we were warned about the no noise tolerance and needed to go to bed by 10?!?!? Okay so first thing every morning the trash truck would come through between 6 and 7 AM LOUD as can be and honked the horn every time he backed up stopping at every trash station. And people with little yappy dogs through the day and night and wee hours of the morning barking at every noise they heard. We had 2 dogs with us that DID NOT BARK ONCE!!! Yet we talked passed 10pm get yelled out and they allow other people to let their dogs bark all night???????? I'm just very disappointed by this campsite, if you plan on going and enjoying yourself past 10pm or sleeping past 6am THIS CAMPGROUND IS NOT FOR YOU! WE WILL NEVER GO BACK AGAIN!!!!!!!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2009

I stayed at Mathews Arm Campground for a recent camping trip and was very pleased with the outcome. I couldn’t believe such a beautiful quiet scenic place could be so close to the DC area! Since all the reserved campsites were already booked I showed up around 3ish on Friday and lucked out with a wonderful spot for $15 a night. Since it was a pretty weekend the place was completely booked by noon Saturday. The rangers up at the front desk were incredibly friendly and ready to answer any questions. The pet friendly site has quite a few fun trails to walk as well as a handful of breath taking scenic overlook views. There are a few restrooms available that aren’t too bad. The women restroom had 3 stalls available and two sinks just don’t expect any hot water! I do not recommend getting a camp spot near the restrooms – since there are no direct trails leading to the restrooms people have created trails through campsites that surround the restrooms. I was told by a few others who have camped in the Shenandoah how cold it can get up in the mountains – we went the first weekend in October and even though it was the mid 70*s during the day it dipped to about 40*-30* once the sun set. If you’re going in the fall make sure to pack a few extra blankets! You’ll be thankful for it!!

There is a small camp store at Elk Wallow just about 2 miles past Mathews Arm (they close at 7pm) and have a variety of camping supplies, gas, firewood, ice, drinks, beer, food and souvenirs. They also have a food stand inside the store where they sell burgers, sandwiches etc.

My Recommendations:
If you are planning on camping out in a tent – I highly recommend A58 / A57/ A56 since these are away from all the other spots it creates privacy and is very quiet. I did notice The entire C section campsites were very close together so you don’t have much privacy and could get loud depending on your neighbors. I stayed at site A15 and besides the occasional car driving by it was very quiet and peaceful. I do believe that they have 2 car 2 tent rule for every campsite so if you're planning for more expect to pay for another site as well.

I loved Mathews Arm Campground and can’t wait to visit again!!!

  • Stayed October 2009, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pretoria, South Africa
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2008

Myself and two others stayed at this campground this past weekend. A handful of sites can be booked online via www.recreation.gov. Although we reserved a site online we switched after finding a better spot. Here follows a few of my observations that might be helpful.

Many sites on the inner loops that are closer to the restrooms have small well trod paths leading there which makes them much less private as everyone tends to use them. I noticed that the sites on the right of the entrance tended to be closer together. The sites from C173 -C169 I would say are perfect for star gazing but bear in mind that they can become hot during the day as there is not much shade. Otherwise most sites seem to have ample shade.

Although the campground was full it still was quiet and relaxing. I would recommend the sites that are generator free for the most peace and quiet.

The restrooms are not the best. It would be great if they could update them even a little. The closest showers are at Big Meadows which is about 30 miles down Skyline. It takes you about 1 hr to drive there so you need to be desperate for a shower to make the trip!

There is a small campstore at Elk Wallow (they close at 7pm)which is only 2 miles away from the campground where you can buy ice and firewood and probably anything small you have forgotten.

So enough about the campground. The setting is wonderful! Being so high up in the mountains is truly magnificent. Dont forget something warm as the wind can be chilly. The campground is central to many hiking trails.

I would recommend taking the Knob mountain trail to the cutoff trail, up to elkwallow and then back to the campground. Its about 5 miles and not too demanding. Apparently the bears like the Knobb Mountain area which proved to be true as we saw one scampering down from a tree!

In a nutshell I would recommend camping here, I definitely intend to do so again before winter comes along!

  • Liked — Nature
  • Disliked — Bathrooms
  • Stayed August 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2007

What a great place to camp! It's a hidden gem in Shenandoah National Park. Come in the middle of the week and you'll practically have the place to yourself. Weekends are another story, as the masses of people escape from the city (D.C.) up to the mountains.

Stayed July 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mathews Arm Campground

Address: Mile 22.1 Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, VA
Location: United States > Virginia > Shenandoah National Park
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Shenandoah National Park
Number of rooms: 179
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A campground with no showers. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Mathews Arm Campground Hotel Shenandoah National Park

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