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What is Rapidan Camps?

Rapidan Camps is a family-owned cooperative campground deep within the Shenandoah mountains, approximately 100 miles from Washington DC, and 25 miles west of Culpeper, Virginia.  It consists of 5 rustic cabins—four cabins equipped with beds, and the community lodge--on four acres of land along the Rapidan River.  The camp was established as a coop in 1954, and there are approximately 100 members.

Why do people come to Rapidan?

The principal reason visitors enjoy Rapidan Camps is to relax in the mountains.  The cabins are close to the end of a remote mountain road, 5 miles from pavement.  They are not equipped with TVs, radios, or telephones.  Cellphones generally do not work at camp.  (You may, however, bring your own radios or TVs, and there are nearby locations where cellphones work.)

What are the cabins like?

Though the cabins were built for senior members of President Hoover's staff, and have many modern conveniences such as electricity and water (from April to October), you are still in the woods.  Though the cabins are kept clean, you can expect to see mice, spiders, and other crawly things.  Just ignore them, as they will be trying to get away from you.  Deer and snakes also are seen in camp sometimes—and on very rare occasions, a bear may wander through.

What are the general rules?

Because Rapidan is a cooperative, all members are responsible for making sure their guests respect the camp.  Non members are expected to follow the same philosophy of camp--to treat our camp as if it were your own.

  • Leave the cabins at least as neat as you find them.
  • At the end of your stay, clean out the cabin(s) you've used.  Please sweep the floors, wipe the bathroom and kitchen, and bring your trash home.  We do not have trash pickup at camp.
  • Be very careful of fire inside the cabins and around camp.
  • If you smoke, please do not throw your cigarette butts on the ground! Aside from being unsightly and taking years to decay, fires can start and burn invisibly underground in the rich soil.
  • Do not leave outdoor fires unattended. There are outdoor fire rings near cabins 1, 4, and 5, but you must follow all rules regarding outdoor fire prohibitions in the surrounding Virginia wildlife management area. During spring, summer, and fall outdoor fires are often prohibited before 4pm—and during droughts outdoor fires are sometimes completely prohibited.

What can I do while staying at camp?

There are many things you can do in the mountains! They include
  • Hiking. There are many excellent trails nearby, such as Old Rag Mountain, Bear Church Rock atop Jones mountain, the Appalachian Trail 3 miles away, and hiking to Big Meadows at Skyline Drive. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club Map #10 (Central Section) shows local trails; you can purchase one at Big Meadows or the Syria Mercantile store, Washington-area REI stores and Hudson Trail Outfitters, or at the PATC Maps Website.  The Map #10 was updated in 2008, but many vendors still have only the 2003 edition—check carefully before purchasing!
  • Fishing.The Rapidan River is a fish for fun stream for recreation--only barbless hooks are permitted, and fish must be returned to the river after being caught.
  • Swimming.The Rapidan River is a cold-water stream and on a hot day is a great place to swim.
  • Mountain Biking. Bicycles are permitted to ride up and down roads outside Shenandoah National Park. The National Park prohibits bicycling, even on unpaved roads.
  • Exploring the nearby towns of Criglersville, Syria, and Madison. Check out these restaurants near Rapidan.

How do I become a member?

See our Membership Page.

How do I get to camp?

When you make a reservation, you'll be given directions to camp.  To help preserve the isolation of our camp, we don't publicize our location.

Are pets allowed at camp?

You may bring your pets to camp, but you are completely responsible for any damage they cause.  All pets should be kept on a leash or in a carrier when outside.  Dogs are great for mountain hikes, and some cats enjoy hunting for mice in the cabins.

Do you have facilities for tents?

We do not currently permit tent camping on our property, except for individuals renting cabins who have special permission from the registrar.

Do you have facilities for RVs?

We do not have facilities for recreational vehicles.

Where can I use a cellphone?

Cellphones generally do not work on camp property. (Expensive satellite phones will work as well at camp as anywhere else.) There is a clearing about 1/4 mile up the road where cellphones often work. There is also a fork in the road on the way to camp, about 3 miles from camp, where most cellphones usually work.

Why are all your hemlock trees dying?

Wooly adelgids are killing hemlock trees throughout the East; most of the hemlocks in and around Rapidan Camps have already died. We're contracting to have dead trees carefully felled, but even healthy trees sometimes fall in heavy winds. As trees die, more sunlight reaches the ground, warming the area around camp and dramatically increasing ground vegetation. Ten years ago, sunlight reached the ground only in small patches, but now wide areas are clear, and a grassy lawn has sprouted between Cabins 1 and 2. Some fast-growing trees are filling the gaps, but a solid tree canopy will take decades to regrow.  We're installing ceiling fans and vents in the cabins to provide more airflow to compensate for the additional heat from sunlight.

 
For questions about Rapidan Camps, please contact the President and Registrar via email.