With only a couple weeks of summer left (what?!!), now is the time to get out there and finish that summer bucket list. And if camping was on your list, and admit it, it probably was, then here are the PERFECT places to make it happen. From state parks to private campgrounds, Virginia has some of the most spectacular sites to get up close and personal with nature. Or, for those of you whose backs just can’t take a sleeping bag in a tent, many sites also offer cabin rentals and RV hook-ups.
But whatever your accommodation preference, one thing is certain, you won’t want to miss these 15 incredible sites. So take a minute, take a look, then dust off your camping gear and get ready for an adventure…
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Chippokes Plantation State Park, Surry
Ranked as one of the top camping spots in Virginia, Chippokes Plantation has been a working farm since 1619, making it one of the oldest of its kind in the nation. This living history site offers a swimming complex, visitor center, and picnicking, as well as trails, camping, and cabin rentals. Camping is available for tents and RVs at two sites, both with electrical and water hook-ups. The park’s 4 cabins, which are restored tenant houses, offer basic amenities and furnishings, as well as heating and air conditioning. Located on the James River, the park is home to incredible wildlife, including bald eagles, fox, deer, river otters and more.
2. Bear Creek Lake State Park, Cumberland
Tucked away in the Cumberland State Forest, this park is listed as one of Virginia's favorite camping sites. Featuring cabins available by the week during prime season and both tent and RV camping, you'll have plenty to choose from. Campsites include optional water views, electric and non-electric options and water hook-ups. Plus, enjoy additional amenities like picnicking, an archery range and playgrounds. With a 40-acre lake, it's an ideal site for water sports enthusiasts with a boat launch, fishing pier, boat rentals and a swimming beach. Or if you prefer hiking or biking through the great outdoors, take advantage of park trails and access to the adjoining 16,000-acre Cumberland State Forest.
3. Pocahontas State Park, Chesterfield
Located just outside of Richmond, Pocahontas State Park provides activities for the whole family, including camping and cabins that allow you to settle in an enjoy all the park has to offer. Campsites include electric and water hookups, grills, picnic tables and lantern holders, as well as centrally located restrooms with hot showers. During your stay, take advantage of boat rentals, picnicking, 80 miles of trails for hiking and biking, a Nature Center and Heritage Center, history programs and fishing. The park also offers a water park-style Aquatic Center, with a kiddie pool, a fountain, two leisure pools, an activity pool and two tube slides.
4. Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sky Meadows is an historical park that shows life from Colonial times through the Civil War at the Mount Bleak Farm House. The park features historic and nature programs, hiking and biking trails, and fishing. And in keeping with its historical roots, Sky Meadows offers primitive hike-in tent camping throughout the year. All 18 campsites are 1 mile from the overnight parking area, but bicycles can be used. Reservations are required, so be sure to visit www.reserveamerica.com and search for Sky Meadows, or call 540-592-3556 to reserve your spot.
5. Sherando Lake Recreation Area and Group Camping, Lyndhurst
Located in the George Washington National Park, this gorgeous lake has onsite camping and plenty of opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking along it shores. With three camping areas, or “loops,” there is plenty of room for everyone. 2 of the loops offer electric hook-ups, ideal for RVs, while the third is ideally suited for tent campers looking for a more natural experience. Showers and concessions are available, as well as a gift shop and relaxation/observation area – all of which serve to make this a relaxing escape for the whole family.
6. Occoneechee State Park, Clarksville
Named after the Native American tribe who once inhabited the land around Bugg's Island Lake (John H. Kerr Reservoir), this park offers cabins and campsites, including an equestrian campsite. Choose from 11 cabins with 2-3 bedrooms or 2 of the 6 bedrooms lodges, each with comfortable rustic furnishings, linens, picnic tables and grills. Or camp out with options that include water views and utility hook-ups, plus enjoy the convenience of a bathhouse with hot showers and flush toilets. The park also offers picnicking, a playground, boating, hiking, biking and horseback riding. A visitor center and Native American museum provide a look into the local Native American history and the Occoneechee tribe.
7. Lake Fairfax Park, Reston
For an escape to nature in the middle of the city, Lake Fairfax Park is the place to go. With a total of 476 acres, the park offers more than 150 campsites, with electric, and non-electric options, fire rings, and grills, potable water, a bathhouse, showers and toilets. Plus, you can enjoy all of the park’s other offerings, including a 20-acre lake with fishing, the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole Water Park, boat rentals, a carousel, athletic fields, picnic areas, a playground, trails and a skate park. Reservations are recommended, so be sure to check out www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lakefairfax/fairfaxcamp to learn more.
8. False Cape State Park, Virginia Beach
Far from the crowds of the boardwalk lies the False Bay State Park, one of the last undeveloped coastal areas on the Atlantic. The beautifully preserved area got its name (and reputation as a ship’s graveyard) from its resemblance to Cape Henry. In fact, the park is home to the ghost town of Wash Woods, a community settled by shipwreck survivors that fell prey to the Cape's misleading appearance. With 6 miles of coastline, the park offers kayaking, camping, interpretive programs that explore the park’s Native American history, hiking and biking trails. Cars are not allowed so the park can only be reached by foot, bike, beach transport, tram or boat. Camping is primitive, so it’s for adventurers only. But if you’re willing to give up a few creature comforts, it’s well worth the rich history and one-of-a-kind experience.
9. Creekside Campground, Edinburg
Located in the Shenandoah Valley along Stoney Creek, Creekside Campground is all about relaxation. With spots for RVs, tents, creekside camping and of course, plenty of fishing, there’s a little something for everyone. For your convenience, Creekside offers shower, restrooms, fire rings, picnic tables and a pavilion for larger groups, as well as high-speed wi-fi. Located in the quaint, historic town of Edinburg, there are many activities and historic sites within walking distance or only a short drive away, including an historic mill house onsite – giving you the option to escape into nature or enjoy some time exploring the area’s rich history.
10. Douthat State Park, Millboro
This park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the design and development of parks nationwide. It features hiking, biking and bridle trails with stunning mountain views, interpretive nature programs and a lake for swimming, boating and fishing. To help you enjoy it all, the park offers cabin rentals and camping. There are 35 rustic cabins to choose from, each with amenities like linens, A/C and heat, fireplaces, picnic table and grills, as well as 3 lodges with 5-6 bedrooms. For campers, many of the campsites offer beautiful views of the lake, as well as a bathhouse with hot water, onsite water, grills, picnic tables and lantern posts.
11. Bolar Mountain Recreation Area at Lake Moomaw, Warm Springs
Located at Bolar Mountain in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, this campground sits on Lake Moomaw, a 2,350-acre lake featuring both wooded shoreline and beaches. There are three campsite areas, offering both electric and non-electric options. The many amenities include picnic tables, lantern posts campfire rings, grills, drinking water, flush toilets and showers. With a wide variety of activities available, including boating, fishing, hiking, volleyball and a playground, as well as a marina, Bolar Mountain is the perfect camping getaway.
12. Loft Mountain Campground, Shenandoah National Park
As the largest campground in Shenandoah National Park, Loft Mountain features nearly 200 campsites. Beautifully situated on top of Big Flat Mountain, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and provides access to the Big Run Wilderness area where you’ll also see waterfalls and wildlife, including black bears, wild turkey, deer, birds and many other native species. The park itself provides 500 miles of trails, with more than 100 of those falling along the Appalachian Trail. With amenities like flush toilets and showers, you have everything you need for a relaxing weekend in nature.
13. Lake Anna State Park, Spotsylvania
As one of Virginia's most popular lakes, this park provides traditional activities like swimming, boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking. But to make the most of it, try camping or cabin rentals. Campsites come with and without water and electric hookups, easily accessible restrooms with hot showers, fire-rings, picnic tables and lantern holders. Of the park’s 7 cabins, 4 offer a water view and all come with 2 bedrooms, a foldout couch to sleep up to six and basic ammenitites and furnishings.
14. Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield
Natural Tunnel stands 10 stories high and stretches 850 feet to form a tunnel through the mountainside. Naturally formed over millennia, the tunnel has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and serves as a railroad tunnel. The park offers historical programs, cave tours, picnicking, a visitors' center, a camp store, a gift shop, the Wilderness Road historic area and a chairlift to the tunnel floor. So really…a little bit of everything, including cabins and tent campsites. With ten 2-3 bedroom cabins and one 6-bedroom lodge, all with mountain views, you’ll have no shortage of options. Or if you prefer camping, choose from one of two sites at Cove’s View or Lover’s View. All campsites offer water and electrical hook-ups, grill/fire pits and access to the park’s swimming pool and bathhouse.
These are just a few of the HUNDREDS of camping sites available in Virginia, but they are definitely among our favorites. Have we left any gems off the list? Please let us know in the comments below!