The Park is on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and has more than 1,600 acres along 5.2 miles of shoreline. The park opened in June 1999. In addition to the meandering river frontage, the park offers scenic views of Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east.
A large riverside picnic area, picnic shelters, trails, river access, and a car-top boat launch make this a popular destination for families, anglers, and canoeists. Twelve riverfront tent campsites, a campground with water and electric sites, cabins, camping cabins, and a group campground are available.
There are nine river access points that enable visitors to reach the Shenandoah River. These are all good spots for fishing and tubing. If you wish to swim or put a canoe or kayak on the water, there is a boat launch near the trailhead for the Hemlock Hollow Trail and the massive picnic area. Many visitors also drop their inflatable tubes in at the boat launch. In the picnic area, there are three large picnic shelters and plenty of picnic tables.
With more than 24 miles of trails, the park has plenty of options for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and adventure. Expansive views of the river and valley can be seen from high points along the trails.
Mountain biking seems to be growing in popularity. While truly advanced cyclists might find the trail system more fun than challenge, new and intermediate riders can find easy, flat routes by the river along with moderate hills and the occasional lactate-searing climb (a cycling term meaning the fastest pace you can maintain).
Here are five of most popular hikes at Shenandoah River State Park. Every one of these hikes rewards with river, mountain, even forest views.
Redtail Ridge Trail: This scenic 3.7-mile loop cobbles together three park trails—Big Oak, Redtail Ridge, and Tulip Poplar—plus a connector trail, to create a pleasing walk in the woods. The red-blazed Redtail Ridge Trail is the most scenic of the paths wowing visitors with three west-facing river overlooks. There are comfy benches, too.
Culler’s Overlook: The hike to Culler’s Overlook is a winner thanks to spectacular views across Massanutten Mountain as well as the Shenandoah Valley. Savor the vistas and read up on Everett Cullers and the role he played in creation of the park. To reach Culler’s Overlook, take the Hemlock Hollow Trail to the Overlook Trail. You’ll pass the visitor center then it’s on to the wooden overlook.
Cottonwood Trail & Wildcat Ledge: The easy hike along the Cottonwood Trail leads to a delightful slice of boardwalk trail. There are open clearing views as well as vistas of Massanutten Mountain. As you close the boardwalk loop, look left for the Wildcat Ledge Trail. This narrow, rocky trail is short, but it’s steep. The Wildcat Ledge Trail ascends to a largely unobstructed view of the Shenandoah River and Shenandoah Valley. Settle in on a rocky outcrop for the vistas.
Bear Bottom Loop & River Trail: This scenic hike cobbles together the Bear Bottom Loop Trail, Shale Barrens Trail, Culler’s Trail, and River Trail for a 6.9-mile trek across Shenandoah River State Park. This loop begins as a long walk in the woods. It’s beautiful, quiet, and shady thanks to an abundance of leafy trees. You’ll walk alongside the Shenandoah River. Stop for river views or a rest on a wooden bench. Keep your eyes open for rafters, tubers and kayakers.
Bluebell Trail: The forested one-mile Bluebell Trail is a must in late-March and early-April when visitors are wowed with a lush carpet of iconic bluebells. The blooms last just three weeks but by many accounts they are very much worth the wait. This wooded point-to-point trail set along the Shenandoah River is mostly flat, making it a good pick for families with small children. It’s dog-friendly, too.
Camping is available year-round. Shenandoah River’s developed campground has 31 sites with water and 20/30/50-amp electric hookups suitable for tents, popups, and RVs up to 60 feet in length. More than half of the sites have shade. The shaded camp sites are 1-18 while sites 19-31 are in full sun. The campground has centrally located restrooms with hot showers and a coin-operated laundry.
Sites have steel fire-rings for cooking and campfires, picnic tables, and lantern holders. Twenty-six sites are back-in and five are pull-through. Firewood can be purchased on-site for $6 per bundle. The family campground is a short walk from two river access points (for fishing, not for swimming or paddling) as well as the Campground Trail.
In addition to the family campground, there is a primitive campground for tents-only on the north side of the park that has 12 canoe-in or walk-in sites. All camp sites offer shade and require a walk on gravel path from the parking lot. There are wagons at the entrance to help transport gear to your site.
At the back of the Right River Campground is a group campground that can accommodate up to 30 people.
Reservations can be made on line or by calling 1-800-933-PARK (7275). All sites are specifically reserved.
Other lodging options include three yurts, four camping cabins (bunkhouses), regular cabins, and a lodge. Camping cabins sleep four people by way of two sets of bunk beds. Yurts sleep up to four people by way of one queen-size bed and a twin-size trundle bed. Bring linens for camping cabin and yurt stays. Pets are not allowed in yurts. You can bring pets to camping cabins but you will pay a $10 per night fee.
A non-refundable $5 per transaction fee is charged for overnight site rentals. The fee is directly tied to expenses that support overall facility rentals—credit card fees, 800 number fees, and overnight inventory and reservation system vendor fees. It is charged per reservation and for walk-in stays.
Note: Be sure to bring confirmation letter(s) or reservation number(s) when you check in. If someone else is checking in for you, make sure the person has the reservation number. The number is needed to enter the cabin or lodge. Camping, cabin and lodge guests should also be prepared to show an ID.
Shenandoah River State Park is a good central location for the area’s many activities. Caverns and caves such as Shenandoah Caverns and Luray Caverns make good activities for rainy days. Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive is a short distance away making for a great day trip. The area is also famous for its many vineyards.
Elevation: 547 feet
Park size: 1,619 acres
Trails: 24 miles
Park admission fee: $10/vehicle
Camping fee: $40 + $5 transaction fee (Virginia residen); $46 + $5 transaction fee (non-Virginia resident)
Location: The Park is in Warren County, 8 miles south of Front Royal and 15 miles north of Luray. It’s off State Route 340 in Bentonville
Address: 350 Daughter of Stars Drive, Bentonville, VA 22610
O Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away, you rollin’ river
O Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away I’m bound to go
—lyrics by Nick Patrick and Nick Ingman