RV Camping in Waterton-Glacier National Parks
There is an area of the Rocky Mountains, located in northwestern Montana and southern Alberta, Canada, that cannot be contained by national boundaries. Its glacial valleys, soaring mountains, and deep cold lakes offer allegiance only to Mother Nature. Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park are, in essence, one grand exhibit.
They have been officially recognized as such since the 1930s. This spectacular International Peace Park is the largest intact ecological system in North America and a camper’s dream come true.
If you love the outdoors as we do, you’ll go bananas over Waterton and Glacier National Parks. Waterton Lakes has over 200 square miles of unspoiled natural wonders. Ranging in elevation from 4,050 feet to 9,646 feet (Mt. Blakiston), the park’s diversity of terrain, wildlife and vegetation is simply unbelievable.
Glacier Park contains another 1,600 square miles of peaks, grassland, sculptured valleys, forested hills, and alpine meadows. Elevation here ranges between 3,150 feet and 10,466 feet (Mt. Cleveland). This is America at her very best – raw, wild, magnificent! And yet, both parks provide some great camping and visitor’s facilities. No matter what your age or your outdoor interests, there is plenty to do and lots to see and experience.
Park Attractions and Activities
Waterton Lakes National Park is easily accessed via Alberta Highways 6 (north) or 5 (east). Montana Highway 17 (Chief Mountain International Highway) and U.S. 89 connect the park with Glacier. Waterton’s Lower, Middle and Upper Lakes offer unparalleled scenic beauty and a host of outdoor enjoyments. Waterton Lakes N.P.The Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. supplies scenic tours on Upper Waterton Lake as well as guided hikes and private boat docking.
The Wilderness Tours Co. provides fishing, hiking, bird watching and kids’ packages in the area. There is even an 18-hole Waterton Lakes Golf Course near the townsite. Gorgeous Cameron Lake lies at the end of the Akamina Parkway – a 10-mile drive from Waterton Townsite. Another scenic drive through Blakiston Valley terminates at fabulous Red Rock Canyon (about nine miles).
Waterton Lakes possesses an abundance of outdoor recreational activities. There are more than 190 miles of trails within the park. Be it backpacking, mountain biking, horseback riding, wildlife watching or just sightseeing that tickles your fancy, Waterton Lakes National Park has got it!
Shenandoah National Park
It is rare when the name given a scenic area can capture and convey its essence and natural beauty. Shenandoah National Park is just such an enchanted place. Sitting astride the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia, Shenandoah is a true collage of forest, flowers, rocks, waters, and meadows. The park encompasses over 190,000 acres of deciduous forest and exhibits inspiring vistas of the valleys some 4,000 feet below. This beautiful park is a camper’s wonderland – providing many great outdoor delights.
Shenandoah National Park is located about 75 miles west of Washington D.C., between I-66 (north) and I-64 (south). Skyline Drive is a scenic two-lane road that runs the length (105 miles) of the park and has 75 overlooks and three waysides along its winding route.
Most of the park’s attractions and facilities are accessed from this gorgeous byway. Front Royal is the northern park entrance, while the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station is the southern terminate. A tour of Skyline Drive alone is worth a visit to the park.
The many overlooks provide spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley and River to the west and the rolling hills and deep valleys of the Virginia Piedmont to the east. Fall is the most popular season, with the vibrant changing colors of the 100-plus tree varieties. However, it is also the most crowded time to visit.
In addition to Shenandoah’s serene atmosphere, campers have a host of things to do and see. There are over a dozen waterfalls to enjoy (mostly found in the central park area) and more than 500 miles of trails to walk and hike.
The Appalachian Mountains are the oldest mountains in the world and offer some very unusual rock formations. Well-maintained picnic areas, dining facilities, lodges, and stores are scattered throughout the park.
Park Deer Wildlife is abundant and can often be observed grazing in Big Meadow. Fishing here is very good in the park’s many mountain streams but requires a short hike. There are also some very interesting remnants from past mountain settlements for history buffs. Once a busy farming and livestock region, Shenandoah National Park has now been returned to nature’s arms.
There are four very nice public campgrounds and a small group camp in the park. All have fresh water and trash pickup, but no RV hookups are available. Big Meadow Campground (mile 51.3, 217 sites) has a dump station, showers, laundry, and camp store. Big Meadow has lots of trees and large paved campsites.
Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.1, 179 sites) has a dump station and store, but no showers. Loft Mountain (mile 79.5, 219 sites) provides a dump station, showers, laundry, and store, while Lewis Mountain Campground (Mile 57.5, 32 sites) has showers, laundry and store, but no dump station.
Private RV Parks
There are some very nice private campgrounds near the park. The Yogi Bear Jellystone Park and Resort is located about five miles west of Park Headquarters on U.S. 211, near Luray, Virginia. At the southern entrance, you’ll find the Waynesboro North 340 Campground and the Front Royal KOA near the northern park entrance.
The lovely and historic Shenandoah Valley presents numerous attractions and activities for visitors. The South Fork of the Shenandoah River offers camping, fishing, canoeing, and white-water rafting. There are also a number of caves to explore in the area.
The famous 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail runs the length of Shenandoah National Park and is prime for hiking and backpacking. The home of Thomas Jefferson is only a short drive from the park. Finally, Skyline Drive ends where the Blue Ridge Parkway begins. The Parkway continues through South Carolina and is a gorgeous drive that is well worth taking.
Shenandoah – the word exudes a feeling of peace, serenity and inspiring beauty! Shenandoah National Park lives up to its name and is the reality of all that its name suggests. Camping in this magnificent park is enjoyable and a very relaxing experience. The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia are, in fact, inviting the year around and make an excellent summer camping destination.