Across Virginia

Camping in Southwest Virginia

Outdoor enthusiasts will find ample parks, trails, and places to camp in Virginia’s southwestern region.

It is easy to find places for camping in southwest Virginia on a national and state park level. Southwest Virginia offers a variety of campsites, accommodating both the adventurous backpacker and the drive-in camper.

National Parks

The well-known Appalachian Trail crosses through the Mt. Rogers region of the southwest portion of Virginia. The Appalachian Trail is a 2,200-mile trail stretching from Maine to Georgia.

One fourth of the trail lies in Virginia.

Mt. Rogers is the tallest mountain in Virginia, reaching 5,729 feet. The top of the mountain offers a magnificent view of highland meadows and the surrounding country.

This portion of the trail is ideal for backpackers looking for solitude. Because of the challenging climbs and changes in elevation, this section of the trail attracts fewer visitors than the flatter, more popular areas.

Backpackers can camp along the trail. They must bring their own provisions.

Campers looking for a more luxurious stay at Mt. Rogers may choose to camp at the Mt. Rogers Beartree Campground, complete with 39 standard, drive in campsites.

None of these campsites have water or electric hookups, but restrooms and clean drinking water are both available to campers, as is the 14-acre lake for fishing or swimming.

The Grindstone campground is located in the Mt. Rogers recreation area. This campground has 100 sites, 37 of which have hookups.

The Grindstone campground has both restrooms and a swimming pool.

RV Campers will enjoy the Racoon Branch camping area. This campground has eight sites with 15 amp electric service. The campground is adjacent to a stream and several trails.

State Parks

Several state parks in the southwest region of Virginia offer campgrounds.

Natural Tunnel State Park’s main attraction is an 850-foot tunnel carved through a limestone ridge over what is speculated to be several thousand years.
Visitors to the park can enjoy cave tours and any of the park’s seven hiking trails.

The Natural Tunnel State Park has two campgrounds.

The Cove View Campground has 16 electric and water hookups. The Lover’s Leap Campground has 18 electric and water hookups.

Both sites permit two vehicles per site. Each site is equipped with a fire ring, a grill, and a picnic table.

Campers looking for a more primitive experience may enjoy Wilderness Road State Park.

This park features Martin’s Station, a reconstructed museum depicting life on the Virginia frontier in 1775.

The park’s Wilderness Trail connects to the 50 miles of trails in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

The park can accommodate up to 50 campers at a time. Campers must bring their own drinking water. There are portable toilets, but no showers.

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Camping in Eastern Virginia

The Eastern region of the state of Virginia is home to a variety of parks, trails, and places to camp.

Though not marked by the mountain ranges characteristic of the central and western portions of the state, Eastern Virginia is known for its beautiful rivers, shoreline, and tamer landscape.

National Parks

Eastern Virginia is home to several national sites of interest that would accompany a camping trip nicely.

George Washington’s birthplace, the Colonial National Historical Park, and the Jamestown National Historical Site are all in the Eastern portion of the state.

Visitors to Jamestown and the Colonial National Historical Park should include the Yorktowne Battlefield, the Colonial Parkway, Historic Jamestown, and Colonial Williamsburg in their itinerary.

Prominent campgrounds near these sites include the Williamsburg Campground, the Jamestown Beach Campground, and the American Heritage RV Park.

State Parks

Several state parks in Eastern Virginia offer camping.

The Chippokes Plantation State Park is situated just across the James River from Historic Jamestown.

The Chippokes Planation is one of the oldest working plantations in the country, started in 1619.

The plantation offers trails for biking, horseback riding, and picnicing. The plantation is also equipped with an olympic sized pool.

The Chippokes State Park has two campgrounds, both of which can accommodate up to six people per site.

Both sites are equipped with electric and water, firewood, and enough room for two vehicles. Campers have access to the swimming pool.

Kiptopeke State Park is another park with overnight camping facilities that is definitely worth a visit.

Kiptopeke State Park is located on the Eastern shore of Virginia, offering beautiful views of the ocean and migratory birds. The park has a variety of overnight accommodations, including a lodge, cabins, RV trailers for rent, and a campground.

The campground has enough room for two vehicles. Sites have water, electricity, sewer hookups, hot water, and restrooms.

Fire ring grills are at each campsite, and firewood is available for purchase. Campers are asked not to bring their own firewood.

Campers have access to swimming, fishing, and the boat launch pier.

Campers can enjoy the park’s four mile of trails, shoreline, and designated bird watching areas.

Eleven miles west of Williamsburg sits the York River State Park.

This park has a marsh where salt and fresh water meet, creating a rich natural marine and plant life. York River State Park has over 25 miles of trail made for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and exploring the marsh and river shoreline.

No overnight camping is provided at this park, but it is only an hour from Chippoke Plantation, making it an excellent option for a day trip while camping at Chippoke.

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Camping in Northern Virginia

Though home to the nation’s capital, Northern Virginia’s national and state parks make this region of the state more than qualified for camping and experiencing nature.

Camping in Northern Virginia offers an opportunity to enjoy beautiful trails and scenic park, all conveniently close to the city of Washington, D.C.

National Parks

The most popular national park in Virginia is Shenandoah National Park, located in the central portion of the state and in the Shenandoah Valley. This park, also part of the Appalachian Trail, attracts thousands of visitors each year.

There are several national sites of interest in Northern Virginia that could be combined with a camping trip.

The Great Falls Park is a national park service site located in the eastern portion of the state. Though only 15 miles from Washington, D.C., the park feels a world away from the bustle of the city.

Sprawling over 800 acres, the Great Falls Park climaxes with the waterfalls located in McClean, Virginia. Three overlooks are provided to visitors for viewing the falls.

Several nearby campground accommodations are nearby, including the Fairfax County Park Authority, the Greenbelt National Park, and Prince Forest National Park.

The Prince Forest National Park, boasting thirty seven miles of trails offers a peaceful sanctuary for biking and hiking to city dwellers.

Equipped with one backcountry campground, three frontcountry campgrounds, and five cabin campgrounds, The Prince Forest National Park is suited to every camper’s personal preference.

The front country campgrounds offer grills, picnic tables, bathrooms, and drive in sites. Prince William Campground is equipped for RVs.

The Chopawamsic Backcountry Area is an 8 site, hike-in, hike-out campground for campers looking for a more secluded camping experience in the heart of nature. No campfires are allowed on these sites.

State Parks

In the Northern region of Virginia, there are several state parks with accommodations for camping. Among these are Sky Meadows State Park and the Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest, Jr. State Park.

The Sky Meadows State Park is not equipped with drive-in campsites, but it does offer year round primitive hike-in tent camping. The campsites are located one mile from the parking area.

Reservations are required for camping at this park. Fire rings are provided.

The Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest, Jr. State Park also offers year round camping.

Campers can choose from the park’s EW Campground Sites, equipped with electricity and water hookups, or the more primitive River Right Campground, a canoe-in or hike-in campground.

Groups may wish to camp in the Cottonwood Primitive Group Camp, located only 100 yards from the parking lot and accommodating up to thirty campers.

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Western Virginia Camping

The western part of Virginia has a variety of notable parks and trails for camping.

This region of the state has access to both the Blue Ridge Mountain Range and the Appalachian Mountains, making it a verstaile location for a camping trip.

There are several national parks and monuments worth seeing in western Virginia, as well as several state parks that provide campsites.

National Parks
While in the western part of Virginia, campers are in close proximity to several national parks worth seeing.

Shenandoah National Park is the largest and most popular national park in Virginia.

The Shenandoah Valley is a 200 mile region that stretches from Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, to Roanoke, Virginia, with the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Alleghenies to the west.

The Shenandoah Valley offers a wide variety of opportunities for camping.

Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park stretches across two states to include land in Loudoun County, Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia.

The location of the historic John Brown’s Raid, and a coveted strategic city by both sides during the Civil War, Harper’s Ferry has a rich past, and is surrounded by beautiful landscape.

State Parks
Douthat State Park is located in the Western region of the state, across Bath and Alleghany counties. It is one of Virginia’s six originial state parks.

Duthat State Park is one hour from Roanoke. It offers a variety of overnight facilities, including cabins and campsites.

Cabins are complete with furniture, bed linens, heat, and air conditioning. Cabins have all the appliances needed to enjoy a weekend in the wild, including a refrigerator, stove, coffeemaker, cooking utensils, a grill, and picnic tables.

Reservations for the cabins can be made by calling 1-800-933-PARK.

Many of the campsites in Douthat State Park offer a view of Douthat Lake. Campsites are drive-in and have a limit of two vehicles per campsite.

The campsites have grills for cooking, picnic tables, and a campfire. Campers are asked to purchase their firewood at the park upon arrival.

Campers can choose how rustic they would like their experience to be. Of the four campgrounds, Whiteoak and Whispering Pines are the only ones with electricity and hookups.

Campers at Douthat State Park can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking on the parks more than forty miles of trails.

All campers are given a free swimming and boat launch pass.

Commercial Camping
Commercial campsites are available in the western part of Virginia.

Dixie Caverns campground is located approximately 15 miles west of Ronoake. This campground is RV friendly.

The Dixie Caverns campground has access to both the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. Campers can enjoy hiking, fishing in the nearby river, or renting a canoe and paddling up the river.

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Camping in Central Virginia

From backpacking through the mountains to enjoying a cabin nestled along a scenic river, Central Virginia has no shortage of parks and places to camp.

The Central Virginia area offers plenty of camping opportunity, for campers of all kinds. Nature lovers seeking adventure will enjoy backcountry camping, while the tamer camper can choose from a variety of campgrounds and cabins in several parks.

National Parks
One of the most popular places to go backcountry camping in Central Virginia is in Shenandoah National Park. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail goes right through the park, creating a lot of opportunity for backcountry campsites.

Backpacking enthusiasts will find no lack of hikes, campsites, or views in along the Appalachian Trail.

There are four campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park: Matthews Arm, Big Meadow, Lewis Mountain, and Loft Mountain. Reservations to camp here can be made by calling 877-444-6777.

The Big Meadows campground is within walking distance of three of the park’s waterfalls. The Matthews Arm campground is within walking distance of the tallest waterfall in the park: Overall Run Falls.

State Parks
Several state parks in Central Virginia offer options for camping.

Lake Anna State Park, located in Spotsylvania, Virginia, has both cabins and campgrounds.

The camping cabins sleep a maximum of four people, and are complete with mattresses, a table and chairs, screened windows, and a porch.

The camping cabins are not equipped with a bathroom. Bathrooms and showers are available in the campground area.

The campgrounds at Lake Anna State Park are centrally located with fire-rings, picnic tables, and lantern holders. Sites come both with and without water and electric hookups.

All overnight campers at Lake Anna State Park have free access to swimming and the park’s boat launch.

While camping at Lake Anna State Park, campers can enjoy hiking the park’s 15 miles of trails. Lake Anna is also known for its wide variety of freshwater fish.

Another state park in the Central Virginia area that offers camping to visitors is the Pocohauntas State Park. The park, located just 20 miles from downtown Richmond, is easily accessible and close to many of the city’s attractions and historic sites.

The Pocahontas State Park offers no cabins.

The campsites are all equipped with water and electric hookups, grills, picnic tables, and lantern holders.

Campers at the park can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, biking, and hiking, during their stay. Campers have access to both of the park’s lakes, Beaver Lake and and Swift Creek Lake.

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Camping in the Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley has over 190,000 acres of back country wilderness to explore, and 520 miles of trails to hike, making it a treasure trove for nature lovers in Virginia.

A great way to explore the area for an extended time is by camping. The Shenandoah Valley offers a wide variety of
options for camping, for both first timers and experienced backpackers alike.

National Parks

The Shenandoah National Park is part of the world renowned Appalachian trail, a 2,175 mile stretch connecting Maine to Georgia. The park is also home to Skyline Drive

An estimated 1500 hikers seeking a challenge set out on the trail each year. The Shenandoah Valley is in the middle of this trail.

This trail is well stocked with places to camp. Most of this camping is backcountry, requiring a pack, a tent, and food that can be carried in and out- a “leave no trace” policy is stamped on all backpacking excursions.

Campfires are prohibited in almost all of Shenandoah’s backcountry. They are allowed only in the park’s front country campgrounds.

Campers looking for a tamer camping experience can choose to camp in one of the park’s several drive in camp sites, most of which are equipped with generators and nearby bathrooms.

During a stay in the Shenandoah National Park, there are several hikes not to miss, such as Old Rag Mountain and the Limberlost trail.

Waterfalls worth seeing include the Whiteoak Canyon Falls, mile 42.6 on Skyline Drive, and Overall Run Falls, from mile 21.1. At 93 feet, the Overall Run Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park.

More Information:

Shenandoah National Park
Address: 3655 US Highway 211 East, Luray, VA 22835
Phone: 540-999-3500

State Parks

In addition to the Shenandoah National Park, several state parks offer camping accommodations. The James River State Park offers primitive campgrounds, bunkhouses, and cabins.

Of the primitive campgrounds, two- Branch Pond and Canoe Landing- are open year round. Canoe Landing sites are located right on the river, giving campers the opportunity to canoe in to their sites.

Campers at James River have access to the park’s 15 miles of trails. Many campers also choose to horseback ride or fish along the river front.

Other state parks to consider camping in include Twin Lakes State Park and Pocohauntas State Park, both of which feature drive in campsites, electric and water hookups, grills, and picnic shelters. Centrally located restrooms have showers.

Commerical Camping

Campers who prefer an RV style of camping can choose from plenty of accessible RV campsites in the Shenandoah Valley. The Walnut Hills Campground in Stuart’s Draft, and the North 340 Campground in Waynesburo both present good camping options.

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