Virginia State Parks are arguably some of the best in the nation. With nearly 40 parks throughout the state, each park represents its unique region, many with interactive programs focused on history, ecology, and nature. The following list doesn’t even touch half of the parks in the state, but highlights a few of our favorites. From living history sites to some of the best mountain hiking in the country, these state parks are a reminder of just how lucky we are to live in Virginia.
1. First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach
The most visited of the Virginia state parks, First Landing is the site where English colonists first landed in 1607. This park features beaches, trails, nature and history programs, camping, boating, and swimming.
2. Hungry Mother State Park, Marion
Known for its beautiful woodlands and large lake, Hungry Mother State Park got its name from a legend telling of a mother and child who escaped a Native American attack at a nearby settlement. The park offers cabins, camping, boating (non-motorized), fishing, and a visitors' center.
3. Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sky Meadows is a historical park that shows life from Colonial times through the Civil War at the Mount Bleak Farm House. The park features history and nature programs, hiking and biking trails, hike-in camping, and fishing.
4. Grayson Highlands State Park, Mouth of Wilson
Located near Virginia's highest peak, Mount Rogers, this park is also adjacent to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Wild ponies inhabit the balds area and are often spotted by visitors. Other features include camping, backpacking, horseback riding, hiking trails to waterfalls and scenic overlooks, fishing, guided canoe tours, and a visitors center. This park is considered one of the best mountain parks in the country.
5. 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, campsites (including an equestrian campsite), picnicking, a playground, boating, hiking, biking and horseback riding. The visitor center and Native American museum provide a look into the local Native American history of the Occoneechee tribe.
6. Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield
Naturally formed over several millennia, Natural Tunnel measures 850-feet in length and has been called the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The park offers history programs, cave tours, campgrounds, cabins, picnicking, a visitors center, a camp store, a gift shop, the Wilderness Road historic area, a swimming pool, and a chairlift to the tunnel floor.
7. High Bridge Trail State Park, Green Bay
The centerpiece of this 31-mile trail is the 125-foot high, 2,400-foot long bridge that stretches over the Appomattox River. Because of its mostly flat surface, this park is ideal for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The park has been recognized by USA Today as one of the Top 20 State Parks in the nation.
8. 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, bridle trails with stunning mountain views, interpretive nature programs, cabin rentals, camping, and a lake for swimming, boating and fishing.
9. Kiptopeke State Park, Cape Charles
Set on Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore, Kiptopeke offers exceptional migratory bird habitats, as well as a beach, lodges, RV and tent camping, a yurt, camping trailers, a bunkhouse, hiking and biking trails, and interpretive and educational programs.
10. Westmoreland State Park, Montross
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Located on the Northern Neck, Westmoreland State Park is surrounded by rich history. The park sits on the Potomac River and offers a beach, swimming pool, power-boat ramp and boat rentals, a visitor center, event centers, campgrounds, cabins, fishing, and trails. Home to American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, green herons and more, it's a haven for birdwatchers.
11. Pocahontas State Park, Chesterfield
Located just outside of Richmond, Pocahontas State Park provides activities for the whole family, including boat rentals, picnicking, camping, cabins, 80 miles of trails for hiking and biking, nature and history programs, and fishing. The park also offers an Aquatic Center with a toddler pool, a fountain, two leisure pools, an activity pool, and two tube slides.
12. Wildnerness Road State Park, Ewing
Offering a truly interactive experience, this park is a living history site showing what life on the Virginia frontier in 1775 was like. The park features a frontier museum, an outdoor living history museum, and a theater showing the award-winning docudrama "Wildnerness Road, Spirt of a Nation." Other activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, and sand volleyball. A restored 1870s mansion provides space for special events.
13. Chippokes Plantation State Park, Surry
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. Located on the James River, the park is home to incredible wildlife, including bald eagles, fox, deer, river otters, and more.
14. Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin
Claytor Lakes offers a full-array of water and land activities with sandy beaches, a full-service marina, a fishing pier, hiking trails, and bike rentals. Claytor Lake also offers interactive programs, event facilities, and lakeside family lodges.
15. Fairy Stone State Park, Stuart
This park is best known for its fairy stones, cross-shaped stones found in the park, which according to legend, are the crystallized tears of fairies who lived there thousands of years ago. The park also offers a large lake with beaches and a water playground, cabins, camping, a conference center, hiking, swimming, and boating.
16. Lake Anna
With a beach on one of Virginia's most popular lakes, this park provides traditional activities like swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking and cabin rentals. But it also provides insight into the history of gold mining in the area with gold panning programs and tours of the Goodwin Gold Mine.
17. Smith Mountain Lake, Huddleston
Located on Virginia's second largest freshwater lake, Smith Mountain Lake State Park has water and land activities galore, including swimming, boat rentals and a boat ramp, fishing, picnicking, and miles of walking and hiking trails. The park also provides an amphitheater for special events and programs, camping, and cabin rentals.