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.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.