Camping is the perfect summer experience. Not only do you get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, but you also have the opportunity to make memories with friends and family that will last through the colder months ahead. Even better is the chance to disconnect with the busy world of technology and enjoy the stillness of nature. Virginia has some of the best campgrounds in the nation. So many diverse landscapes means stunning places to pitch a tent. The following sites are ideal for making s’mores, singing campfire songs, stargazing, and all sorts of summer fun.
1. Elizabeth Furnace Campground (Fort Valley)
Elizabeth Furnace Campground has a wonderful reputation for its family-friendly atmosphere. The area is named for the Elizabeth Furnace, which was a type of blast furnace used to make pig iron in the nineteenth century. Campers can enjoy hiking the Pig Iron and Charcoal Trail and notice the beauty of the densely forested surroundings. There's also a nearby swimming hole and stocked trout pond for fun water activity. Tent camping only is allowed at this year-round site.
2. Millrace Campground at New River Trail State Park (Galax)
The New River Trail State park follows 39 miles of the scenic New River, which is actually the second oldest river in the entire world. The park is located in southwestern Virginia and is especially popular among bikers for its rail to trails system. While the park has over 30 campsites, one of the most beautiful is the Millrace campground, which overlooks the river. This is one of the four most primitive campgrounds, with no vehicular access (just a short hike from parking lot) or bathhouses.
3. Smith Mountain Lake (Huddleston)
Smith Mountain Lake is the second largest body of freshwater in the state, which sets the scene for a lovely campground. The park offers miles of hiking trails, areas for picnics, swimming, boating, and fishing. There are over 70 sites to choose from for an overnight experience, ranging from cabins to more primitive setups. The two-bedroom cabin set ups can be reserved online and offer a rustic camping experience while also providing the structure and sturdiness of a shelter. This might be an ideal set up for a family trip that includes younger campers.
4. Twin Lakes State Park (Green Bay)
Located in the heart of Virginia's Piedmont region, Twin Lakes State Park is a gorgeous campsite set up along the lakes. There are about 40 campgrounds at this site, most of which are standard electric campgrounds while others are cabins which can be rented ahead of time. The lakes are 40-acres and provide ample activity, including secluded swimming, fishing, canoeing, and more.
5. Big Meadows (Shenandoah National Park)
If you're seeking seclusion, immersion in nature, and incredible mountain views, you'll love spending a night or two at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park. The campground includes over 200 campsites, some of which can accommodate larger groups. Facilities include toilets, showers, picnic tables and a nearby visitors center.
6. Burke Lake Park (Fairfax Station)
Not far from DC is the beautiful Burke Lake Park, where city-dwellers can escape from the hassle of traffic and noise. There are nearly 100 campsites to choose from at this site. Although there's no electric or water hook ups to each site, there are bathhouses, showers, and flushing toilets available for use. Campers will be surrounded by acres of forest and right alongside the 218-acre lake after which the park is named. These campgrounds are open mid-April to October.
7. Blowing Springs Campground (Warm Springs)
Blowing Springs campground is named after the incredible phenomenon that happens there: a duct which blows air at a consistent 58 degrees all year round. Visitors to the campground will be delighted to choose from several spots. The lower portion of the designated camping area offers grassy meadows while the upper area has smaller sites in the woods. Nearby is the Blowing Springs recreation area as well as the scenic Dan Ingalls overlook.
8. Hungry Mother State Park (Marion)
Hungry Mother State Park has a little bit of everything: a boat launch, fishing piers, sandy beaches, kayaks, boats, and of course, great camping spots. The gorgeous 108-acre lake in the heart of the state park is one of the main attractions that draws campers to this part of the state. For those who might need a little extra space and shelter, there are lodges available that can accommodate up to 6 guests. These tend to fill up quickly, so be sure to make reservations ahead of time.
9. Bear Creek Lake State Park (Cumberland)
The campground at Bear Creek Lake State Park could easily be considered one of the most popular in the state. Located in the Cumberland State Forest, Bear Creek is only about an hour from Richmond. The park's central feature is the impressive 40-acre lake complete with a boat launch, boat rentals, a fishing pier, and even a swimming beach. There are also plenty of land activities to choose from, including hiking, archery, exploring, and enjoying some quality time around the campfire.
10. Belle Isle State Park (Lancaster)
Located in the beautiful Northern Neck, Belle Isle State Park is a 773-acre site spanning the lower Rappahannock River. The landscape diversity of this park alone ranges from tidal coves, nontidal wetlands, lowland marshes, and upland forests. You can imagine how much wildlife this lends itself to. Many of the campground activities are centered around the water. Educational programs are also offered here. The campsites are complete with amenities such as bathhouses, equestrian trails, hiking trails, and bike rentals.
11. Morris Hill Campground (Covington)
If you're traveling in a larger group of friends and family and are looking for the classic camping experience, Morris Hill Campground is the perfect solution. This group camp site is perched above Covington's Lake Moomaw, with space to accommodate up to 8 tents or 25 campers. During the day, campers can enjoy picking berries, going on hikes, and all the water activities offered by the lake. Once the evening settles in, the group can huddle around the campfire, sharing stories and enjoying the classic camping food.
Even if it’s just for one night, taking a camping trip can be the highlight of your summer. You’ll discover new appreciation for this beautiful state and spend precious times with loved ones. Be sure to check out this article we published last summer for some additional
awesome camping spots. Which of these camping sites do you plan on visiting this summer? We’d love to hear about your plans!