After reading all the reviews I could find on camping in Shenandoah National Park, we chose Loft Mountain Campground because of the privacy hedges between sites and the availability of showers. It was exactly what I wanted and what previous reviewers had described. An abundance of wildlife! Deer and bunnies literally everywhere... and bears! I'll address a few negative comments I've read about the campground and clarify with my experience.
1. Rangers act like "cops"- yes... they do for a reason. But they are also VERY friendly and extremely helpful and are looking out for your safety. I found the Rangers at the arrival gate much more stern that the Rangers in the camping area. They are trying to convey the importance of bear safety and therefore have a much stronger voice than once on site. We visited 6/27-6/30/14 and upon arrival were told there were 8 bears in the campground and 2 were becoming very brave around campsites and were being aggressively sought after by the Rangers to avoid any incidents with campers or the need to put the bears down. ALL food- beer, coffee, water included, and anything with fragrance such as suntan lotion, bug spray, cleaning supplies, makeup must be locked in your car at all times. Even if you make breakfast, run to the bathroom or your neighbors tent- if your hands and body aren't in front of the food consuming it- it must be stored in the car. You will get a ticket for leaving food unattended even for a few minutes. Think this is overly cautious? Our camp site neighbors left a coffee pot on the fire, mixing bowl with dried pasta sauce on the table, and oreos in their tent. Then they left the site to hike. A bear came through our site headed straight to their site and got into the food and coffee, chewed empty beer cans that were on site, and spent a while trying to get into the tent! After 6 Park Rangers and 2 Law Enforcement officers tried for over an hour yelling, setting off noise makers,and creating an unfriendly environment for the bear- the bear had to be shot at with bean bag pellets by law enforcement. It is an orphaned yearling and was lured in by the stupidity of campers. If the bear comes back (which the Rangers said he will since he had such a feast), he will be tranquilized. If he returns after that, he will be put down. This is why you will see the Rangers often driving by the sites and walking in to inspect if there is food or fragrance product left around. This same day, we had a bear cross in front of our car upon entering the campground as well as saw a bear on a ridge 20 min away near Lewis Mountain.. this is bear country.
2. Firewood can not be brought in due to disease and worms that hurt local trees. Take any hike through the park and you will find downed trees due to the diseases and worms that non-local firewood has brought. Well seasoned firewood is available for purchase at the camp store for $5. You get about 6 pieces. The wood is very well seasoned- no smoke or crackling/popping. You can also scavenge your own downed dead wood. My husband and I were both impressed by the quality of the wood at the store- much better than the "seasoned" wood you get a walmart or grocery stores.
3. Showers and laundry are at the camp store. I visited the same time as another reviewer and had no issues with shower cleanliness. Bathrooms were also clean in the campsite area. The bathrooms only have 2 stalls, but considering we visited on a full weekend, I only waited one time for a stall in the women's bathroom near F132 and that was at 7pm- a popular family visiting hour before bed.
First big camping trip with our 3 yr old son. We registered online for the only site available, F132. I was not expecting to like it since it was beside the restrooms, but I was shocked- it had a great privacy hedge on all sides and the area for the tent was hidden and tucked in to a tall thicket. There were tall trees and blackberry bushes all around us- we could barely see the top of the tent in the campsite beside us. We had forest behind us (no campers) and to the left were tall trees and bushes which hid the path to the water supply and bathrooms. We pitched a 4 person tent in the hidden corner of our site and placed a large screen house over our picnic table. All vehicles must stay on the paved area in front of your site. We had a deer and multiple bunnies in our campsite upon arrival and they returned to visit each day. We even had an 8 point buck one day munching in our bushes. The campsite was full and surprisingly we rarely heard noise or people heading to the restrooms. We had 6+ inches of rain our first night and bright and early the next morning the rangers checked on each campsite for flooding and to make sure all campers were safe and dry. The site amazingly never took on water and we had no mud! As all other reviewers mentioned, all of the outer edge A sites have valley/mountain views. We may try one of those sites next time, but honestly- my husband loved the convenience to the water supply and restrooms... there was tons of privacy and for a campground that was full, the sites are positioned so you don't realize how many people are there! There were several hiking trails that lead out from the campground. All of our immediate neighbors were regular campers at Loft and they all agreed this was their favorite campgrounds because of the privacy. We went to Big Meadows Campground to look for ourselves as well as Lewis Campground. Big Meadows was a huge turn off for us because non of the sites are private- even the hike in sites are on top of one another. Lewis Campground had trees and the exterior edge sites were more private, but non compared to the privacy of Loft Campground. We re already planning another trip back for this month.
- Also Known As:
- Loft Mountain Campground Hotel Shenandoah National Park