Big Meadows

Big Meadows

Big Meadows is a meadow located on the Skyline Drive at Milepost 51 in the Shenandoah National Park in Page County, Virginia, USA. The Park's Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center is located there, as is a lodge, camp store, and camping area.

Rapidan Camp, the restored presidential fishing retreat of Herbert Hoover from 1929-1933 on the Rapidan River is nearby. It is accessed by a 4.1-mile round-trip hike on Mill Prong Trail, which begins on the Skyline Drive at Milam Gap (Mile 52.8). The National Park Service also offers guided van trips that leave from the Byrd Center at Big Meadows.

In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the new park and the Skyline Drive at a ceremony at Big Meadows.

In 1962, during the Ash Wednesday Storm, Big Meadows recorded Virginia's greatest 24-hour snowfall with 33 inches and the storm snowfall was 42 inches.

In 1996, during the Blizzard of 1996, Big Meadows recorded Virginia's greatest storm snowfall accumulation at 47"

Archaeological work has uncovered evidence of prehistoric periods of human habitation as long ago as 2000 B.C. Big Meadows was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Activities at Big Meadows

At Big Meadows, there is a dining hall, gift shop, horse trails, and a series of lodges for guests to stay in. Each room at the lodge has a stone fireplace, and you are provided with an allotment of wood for your stay. Strangely, however, the rooms are heated with natural gas; for the fireplaces are for decorative purposes only, nowadays.

At Big Meadows Wayside, there is a campground with roughly 200 lots. The facility at Wayside has a shower building, laundry accommodations, a packaged campfire wood storage building, and a small office at which ice, firewood, and basic supplies can be purchased.

There are several major hiking trails most often used by campers.

Lewis Spring Falls follows the Appalachian Trail for about 1.5 miles from the main campground to the falls overlook. It is an easy trail with standard hard-packed pebbles and dirt and has a few rock scrambles along the way.

Dark Hollow Falls begins at a parking lot close to the Byrd Center. From the parking lot, a .7 mile trail takes hikers to overlooks at the top and bottom of the falls. The trail is scenic and wide, but somewhat steep on the return.

The summit of Blackrock is located .3 miles from the main campground and immediately adjacent to the Skyland lodge facility. It is the highest point at Big Meadows and provides a scenic view of the Shenandoah Valley.

The Big Meadow

There actually is a part of the campground area called the Big Meadow. It's adjacent to the camp store and the new Byrd Visitor's center. Campers often wander the grassy trails of the meadow to search for blueberries and blackberries. Usually, the bears have harvested the ripe stuff long before campers find them. In the early mornings, lucky hikers might spot a black bear or two on the edges.


There are black bears, white-tailed deer, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels and a variety of birds who visit the campground area and are very used to people. The deer are extremely eager to find campers who will hand out food and treats. The rangers properly discourage this but the result is that the deer wander the campgrounds throughout the day. It is not uncommon to have a deer eat from your hand right at your campsight. As for bears, a daytime sighting is not uncommon. The black bears have never seemed too aggressive and there are no reports of attacks. The park provides numerous bear-proof metal lockers around the camp area to protect food at night.

The biggest concern is the skunk population. Like the deer, they love to forage the campsites for food. Occasionally, campers will get a whiff of a skunk who was startled in the night. When it begins to get dark, the wise camper will ensure there is no food on the ground to attract skunks. Also, ensure your tent is zipped tight throughout the day and especially at night so that a skunk does not wander through an open flap.

Other wildlife includes some venomous snakes; however, it is rare that you will come across one. The park houses rattlesnakes, copperheads, as well as garter snakes and many other non-venomous species. One would be wise to be cautious where they step; if he or she begins to wander off of the trail or around some old ruins, they may come across a snake obscured by leaves or rocks.


* [ Restoring a National Historic Landmark: President and Mrs. Hoover's Rapidan Camp, Shenandoah National Park]
* [ History of Shenandoah National Park]
* [ "The Free-Lance", Fredericksburg, Virginia, newspaper article 10/9/2005]

External links

* Geographical coordinates: coord|38|31|36|N|78|26|23|W| (click for maps and satellite photos of Big Meadows, Virginia)

* [ Shenandoah National Park]

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