• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    1 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    30 Feet

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

​Big Meadows is located in the middle of Shenandoah National Park and a great place for the whole family to explore, including your four legged friends.

Big Meadows is located in the middle of Shenandoah National Park and a great place for the whole family to explore, including your four legged friends.

There is a small parking area that can hold about 10 vehicles, but don't worry if it’s full. There is a very large parking area across Skyline Drive, located in front of the Big Meadows Wayside Station and the Visiter Center.  There is no official trail through or around Big Meadows; instead there is a network of game trails that hikers can follow as they explore the beauty of the meadow.  Big Meadows is just under a mile wide and about a half mile across and is the only sustained meadow in Shenandoah.  Every few years, the park rangers control burn a section to help keep the surrounding forrest from encroaching into the meadow and to encourage new grass and foliage to grow. You can easily hike a few miles as you following the network of trails throughout the meadow. One nice thing about hiking through Big Meadows is that when you are tired or need to leave, there are a lot of trail options that will lead back toward your vehicle.  This is one of the few places that allows you full control over how much you want to hike. 

Big Meadows is home to many types of wildlife and is a great location to photograph many different types of animals.  The best time to see the wildlife in the meadow is near dawn and dusk. White-tailed deer and a variety of local birds are the most common animals seen in the meadow, and because of the high volume of people, they usually do not shy away very easily making it easier to photograph these animals.  Big Meadows is full of plants and flowers that vary in their bloom as the seasons change.  This is one of my favorite locations to photograph flowers especially during spring and early summer when the whole meadow is a rainbow of colors. 

If you are looking for a place to enjoy nature all by yourself, this is not the spot.  Since it is right across Skyline Drive from the Big Meadows Wayside Station, Visitor Center, Big Meadow Camp Ground, and Big Meadow Lodges, there are always people in the meadow.  Even with the high volume, the meadow is so large that people are spread out, and you are still able to enjoy hiking around in the beauty of the meadow and not feel like you’re on top of each other.  Dogs are also allowed to hike through the meadow as long as they are leashed.  

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Water
  • Snacks
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This is a great spot to relax and have a picnic in Shenandoah. The Wayside across the street also has a great little restaurant and gas station. Not much in terms of views but for astrophotography you'll have big open skies.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Brandon Dewey Explorer

I am a Father, Photographer, Adventurer, and World Explorer (26 countries and counting). I'm from the Bay Area but I'm currently living outside of Richmond, Virginia.

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