AT Hikers Must Now Purchase a Permit To Hike Through Shenandoah National Park

Visitors wishing to camp backcountry in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park will now have to purchase a permit online at in order to do so. The new online permit rule goes into effect January 11 20204 (today), while the park’s former system of obtaining a free paper permit online or in-person was phased out on January 1o.

The online permit costs $9 per person plus a flat $6 reservation fee per permit. For example, a two-person permit would cost $24: $6 reservation + $9 + $9.

All overnight backcountry visitors, including AT thru-hikers, will be subject to the new rule. Thru-hikers will not need to indicate where they plan to camp each night and can instead indicate a 14-day window in which to hike through the park. Approximately 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail are inside park boundaries.

According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, permits can be obtained up to 90 days in advance. Hikers will need to carry a printed or digital copy of their permit while in the park.

Along with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah is now one of only two spots on the Appalachian Trail in which thru-hikers must pay for a permit to hike. The thru-hiker permit in the Smoky Mountains, which covers approximately 70 miles o the AT, costs $40. In Maine, thru-hikers must also acquire a free AT Hiker permit in Baxter State Park before summiting Katahdin.

Further Reading on AT Thru-Hiker Permits

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Comments 14

  • Chris Wolfensberger : Jan 12th

    This is complete nonsense making people pay to be on land that was stolen from my ancestors and was always meant to be free. What about the homeless thru hikers that can’t afford to pay for permits. It doesn’t cost a thing to walk yet we would have to pay with money we don’t not have just to be able to finish a complete thru hike of the AT. Quit trying to capitalize mother nature when God made this earth for us for FREE!!!

    • Pcs : Jan 12th

      yer too funny for a Friday…by the way, your ancestors stole the land from Mother Nature

      • BB : Jan 12th


        It is a known fact that many people who had homes all along the present Shenandoah National Park were burned out a forced out by other forceful means. Try to be a bit more sensitive to folks and not such a tool. Also, the concept that humans stole from mother nature by making a home is a lame as saying a bird stole a tree by putting their nest there.

        • Loose Goose : Jan 17th

          By the time the US government was purchasing land to create the Park many people had lost their trade, hunted out all the wildlife and were destitute. They were relocated to ares they could find employment and survive. It was a godsend to many people.

  • Sparky : Jan 12th

    What would have been nice in the articles would be a phone number, email address, etc that I could use to contact whomever is required to get the permit. I have no clue how to accomplish this while I am on the trail. Since I would be passing through once, a open permit would be good where I could enter the date i entered the area and then the departure date.

    • Joe : Jan 12th

      Go to to register for the dates that you will going through Shenandoah.

  • Steve Palmerton : Jan 12th

    This is unnecessary extortion. The park already charges a fee to enter for cars and campers. Then another fee to stay and camp. Trail maintenance is generally volunteer for the AT. Just another greety grab by government .

  • stephanie : Jan 12th

    I do not think its fair to make those who cannot afford a permit to pay to hike that section of trail epsc with inflation the way it is today. Yes I agree its just another infringement on our right to enjoy being out side that is being taken away from by our crooked goverment because if they are not happy then we cant be happy either.

  • Ryan : Jan 12th

    Kinda sucks just because of the logistical problems of getting enough signal to navigate the website on a phone. I have to say tho people whining because it’s too expensive when they are spending 5000+ to thru hike are obnoxious, if 20 bucks breaks you then you shouldn’t be out there in the first place.

    • B : Jan 12th

      Ryan it’s all about the principal!

      • David Wilkinson : Jan 13th

        All starts with nickels and dimes and documentation.


    I’ve heard that there’s a rewilding plan to eventually close off all national parks and forests to citizens. (WUI)Wildland Urban Interface is where areas must be set up so people cannot disturb the natural domain, supposedly to reduce the risk of fire. The right to go into the wilderness will slowly be phased out. Check on the government websites and you’ll see all kinds of radical federal plans.

  • Josh : Jan 14th

    Typical Communist aka Democrat state …………big government at its best……

  • Brenda : Jan 16th

    This is absolute crap! I’m so sick of the blasted government regulating everything!
    Lile.we don’t pay enough damn taxes!


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