Located on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and sandwiched between Massanutten Mountain and Shenandoah National Park, is the picturesque Shenandoah River State Park. Featuring over 1,600 acres of land and five miles of shoreline, this Virginia state park has more than 24 miles of trails for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, easy river access for paddlers and anglers, a large riverside picnic area great for families, and zip lines offering canopy tours for thrill-seekers. Shenandoah River State Park is a great choice for RV campers looking for a fun, refreshing trip.
The park opened in June 1999 and, in addition to its many offerings, serves as a great basecamp for exploring the historically and culturally rich Shenandoah Valley. Guests staying at Shenandoah River State Park can easily add visits to other major nearby attractions, including Shenandoah National Park, Luray Caverns, and the scenic Skyline Drive.
Shenandoah River State Park is open year-round and has 32 RV sites with water and electric hookups, making it a great stop during an RV road trip. While the campground is open year-round, visitors wishing to take advantage of the park’s zip line canopy tours and boating opportunities should plan to visit during the in-season months from April through October.
Shenandoah River State Park is located about 15 miles north of Luray in the small town of Bentonville. The park is relatively easy to get to by RV or car, as the park entrance is just off of Route 340. If visitors plan to stay in one of the park’s 32 RV sites, they should be mindful that the access road into the campground is steep and winding, so caution is advised.
Most campsites within the campground are back-in, though five are pull-through for easier access. Parking is available at each campsite and at additional overflow parking areas throughout the park, including at Culler’s Overlook, the horse barn area, and the canoe launch.
Shenandoah River State Park’s EW Campground has 32 RV sites with water and electric hookups that can accommodate rigs up to 60 feet long. There are no sewer hookups, but there is a convenient dump station available for guests. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and lantern holder, and the campground has restrooms with hot showers as well as coin-operated laundry. Visitors can also enjoy easy access to Bluebell Trail, Culler’s Trail, and Campground Trail. Winter vacationers should be aware that water at campsites is turned off when temperatures drop below freezing. However, water is still available elsewhere in the park. Most of the sites are back-in, but five are pull-through for easier access. These campsites are available year-round. Half of the campsites are available for reservations, and the other half are first-come, first-served.
Half of the campsites at Shenandoah River State Park’s EW Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Along with staying in the campground, visitors can also reserve a spot in one of the cabins at Shenandoah River State Park. The cabins accommodate up to 12 people. During peak season from April through September, cabins must be reserved by the week. Each air-conditioned cabin comes furnished with a refrigerator, kitchen utensils, linens, and other amenities. The cabins don't feature Wi-Fi or TV, but with all the activities nearby visitors should be able to find plenty of entertainment options. In the evening, visitors can lounge on the wrap-around porch and take in the forest air. Each cabin has an outdoor fire ring, and firewood is available for purchase in the park. Visitors are advised not to bring their own firewood.
Approximately 20 miles south of Shenandoah River State Park, underneath the Blue Ridge Mountains, are the famous Luray Caverns. These caverns — the largest in the Eastern United States — are full of breathtaking and unique geological features. Massive rooms feature incredible floor to ceiling stone features. The wheelchair-accessible caverns also feature the world's only "stalagpipe organ." Visitors will be blown away by what they see at Luray Caverns. Admission to Luray Caverns includes entry to several other nearby attractions, including the Luray Valley Museum and the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum.
One of the most popular features of Shenandoah River State Park is the zip line canopy tour. This zip line tour winds through the Shenandoah hardwood forest and allows thrill-seekers to enjoy breathtaking views of the Massanutten Mountains while zipping through the treetops. In addition to the eight zip lines visitors will soar across, the tour also includes a UTV trail ride, a sky bridge, two nature hikes, and a rappel—offering the perfect mix of heart-pounding thrills and scenic relaxation.
Shenandoah River State Park’s five miles of shoreline along the Shenandoah River is popular among paddlers. The park's canoe launch is located three miles downstream from the Bentonville access area. This area offers a perfect spot for visitors to set off in their canoes, kayaks, or tubes to explore the Shenandoah Valley by water. While the park does not rent boats, there are three car-top launches and two outfitters within a few minutes of the park.
Visitors eager to get their legs moving and their boots dirty while at Shenandoah River State Park can rest easy knowing that the park has more than 24 miles of hiking trails meandering through its 1,600 acres. The hikes range from a difficult 5.5-mile trek along Bear Bottom Loop Trail, to a moderate three-mile hike along Allen’s Mountain Trail, or an easy stroll of under a mile along Tulip Poplar Trail. No matter their physical abilities, campers can find a trail suited for them.
Visitors can enjoy a relaxing drive through the nearby Shenandoah National Park on the 105-mile Skyline Drive. Located just 15 minutes north of Shenandoah River State Park, RV vacationers can start at the north entrance to Skyline Drive and drive the entire 105 miles, or they can exit after approximately one hour at the Thornton Gap Entrance Station to return to Shenandoah River State Park. The road is RV-accessible, but if visitors plan on driving the full length they should make sure that they can clear the nearly 13-foot tunnel just south of Thornton Gap Entrance Station. The best time to take this drive is from early-to-late fall when the colors are at their most brilliant.
Anglers can try their luck in the river at Shenandoah River State Park at any time of year. Freshwater fish like smallmouth bass, fallfish, catfish, and red-breasted sunfish are all common catches in the Shenandoah River. The “fish trap” access area near Shelter 3 is a popular spot for wade fishing, and anglers who prefer to fish from a boat can hop in their tube, canoe, or kayak and float down the river. Visitors should make sure to acquire the proper permits for fishing in the Shenandoah River.
Visitors may prefer to explore the 1,600-acre park on horseback. For equestrian enthusiasts, Shenandoah State Park offers 14 miles of multi-use bridle trails. Culler’s Trail, Redtail Ridge Trail, Shale Barrens Trail, and more are all available for horseback riding and offer great ways to explore the park. These trails are multi-use, so horseback riders should be wary of mountain bikers and hikers on the same trails. While the park does not offer horse rentals, visitors who bring their own horses can make use of the horse amenities available in the horse barn area just off of Daughter of Stars Drive.
Shenandoah River State Park is home to a wide range of diverse creatures, offering exciting glimpses to the patient and observant visitor any time of year. On the river, visitors should look out for herons, waterfowl, and otters. In the forest, visitors can find white-tailed deer, black bears, and scarlet tanagers. Overhead, visitors should keep an eye out for osprey, bald eagle, broad-winged hawk, and American kestrel. Shenandoah River State Park is teeming with diverse wildlife, offering endless opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.