You will know when you've reached Big Meadows. It’s where the forest gives way to a large open area on a 3,500-foot plateau just south of Skyline Drive near milepost 52. Covering more than 100 acres, it is by far the largest open area in the park, although its origins are a mystery. Visitors can take in the sweeping views and encounter abundant wildlife, particularly birds, deer, and summertime butterflies among the woodland-fringed expanse of grasses, sedges, and wildflowers (including some rare species). A convenient visitor center, lodge, campground, and other amenities are located on the far side of Skyline Drive.

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Expert Review of Big Meadows

Parks and Outdoors Review of Big Meadows

Away Travel Expert: Paul Elliott
expert favorite Parks Expert Favorite
ParksExpert Rating 5.0 out of 5 Recommended for:
Birding,Camping,Day Hiking
Parks and OutdoorsExpert Tips & Helpful Hints
  • Big Meadows ranks as one of the park's best birding spots, especially in the warm-weather months, when the meadows come alive with a colorful mix of resident and migratory species.
  • Stop by at Big Meadows in the fall, preferably on a day when a northwest wind is blowing, to watch the migrating hawks—and occasional eagle—streaming overhead (dress warmly).
  • Extend your birding range—and also get exercise—by doing an easy woodland circuit hike from Big Meadows to Rapidan Camp (Herbert Hoover's former fishing retreat on the Rapidan River).


Visitor Information

The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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