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State Parks
First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park, formerly Seashore State Park, is located in Virginia Beach and is one of the most popular parks in the state.

With 20 miles of hiking trails and cabins and camping spots for overnight visitors, the park boasts much of what you might expect, but it also has something that many state parks do not have: more than a mile of beachfront property. (more…)

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Great Falls State Park

Great Falls, National Park Service

Located only 15 miles from the nation’s Capital, Great Falls Park is an 800 acre escape into nature for dwellers of Washington, D.C.

The falls are an overflow of the Potomac River, which flows into the Mather Gorge.

For centuries, the Great Falls have been a gathering place for people to fish, hike, and discover nature.

In 1784, George Washington’s plan was to make the Potomac River as navigable as the Ohio River, thus drawing people west. George Washington’s work on the river required the cooperation of multiple states, thus preparing him for the job of President a few years later.

Constructors worked to make a canal of the river, with locks to bypass the Great Falls. Getting around the falls involved a system with a series of five locks that lowered or raised boats around the sharp drop.

Thousands of boats used the Patowmack Canal upon its completion. The canal was abandoned in 1830, when workers aimed to build a waterway stretching from Georgetown to Maryland.

Today, Great Falls and the Patowmack Canal are protected by the National Park Service.

Location

Great Falls National Park is located in Northern Virginia, in the town of McLean.

The address of the park is 9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, Virginia, 22102.

Great Falls is a 30 minute drive from Washington, D.C., and a two hour drive from Richmond.

From Roanoke and from Virginia Beach, the park is a three and a half hour drive away.

Hours and Admission

The park is open daily from 7 a.m. until dusk.

The Visitor Center is open daily from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The snack bar is open seasonally.

The Visitor Center contains brochures, trail maps, and a museum. Throughout the year, events are held in the auditorium of the Visitor Center.

A children’s room is also located in the Visitor Center. This room contains puzzles, games, and educational activities for children.

Admission to the park is $3 per individual or $5 per vehicle. These passes last for three consecutive days.

Annual passes to the park are $20.

Things to Do

From the Visitor Center, the three Falls overlooks are can be reached by walking within two to ten minutes.

The park has fifteen miles of hiking, biking, and bridle trails, including the River Trail, which offers one of the best views of the Falls.

Fishing is permitted with a valid Virginia or Maryland license. Swimming and wading are not permitted.

Picnic tables and grills are available for use. They cannot be reserved and are filled on a first come, first serve basis.




Occoneechee State Park

Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation<

Occoneechee State Park, located on Buggs Island Lake, is named for Native Americans who lived in the area for hundreds of years.

Visitors to the park have access to 48,000 acres of fishing, as well as picnic shelters, an amphitheater, a playground, and a 15 mile round-trip multi purpose trail.

Location

Occoneechee State Park is located in the southern portion of Central Virginia, just 15 miles north of North Carolina.

The park is a two-hour drive from Richmond and a two-and-a-half hour drive from Roanoke. The park is a three-hour drive from Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Amenities

Occoneechee State Park is well known for its fishing. Buggs Island Lake and Lake Gaston are known for their plentiful supply of fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, and perch.

Boat ramps are available for both motorized and nonmotorized boats.

Fishing is permitted with a valid fishing license.

The park has two picnic shelters that can be reserved from 8 a.m. until dusk. Shelters can be reserved by calling 1-800-933-PARK.

The small shelter accommodates up to 35 people and the large shelter can accommodate up to 100. Both are close to the playground and the restrooms.

Occoneechee State Park has about 3.1 miles of walking trails. The trails cross through the woods and over to the site of the Occoneechee Plantation.

The park also has a 15 mile round-trip multi purpose trail. The trail is paved and can be used for biking, running, hiking, or horseback riding.

The park has a visitor center and a gift shop. The visitor center has a display on the “Occoneechee Story” and educates visitors on the history of the native Americans in that area.

Overnight Accommodations

The park has campsites and cabins to accommodate overnight guests.

Campsites in Campground C are located on the waterfront. Campground B accommodates RVs up to 35 feet.

Each campsite is equipped with a grill, enough room for two vehicles, and nearby restrooms.

Weekly rentals are required during the summer months for any of the 13 cabins in the park.

Each cabin has a kitchen equipped with a refrigerator, stove, cooking utensils, and dishes. Cabins have fireplaces and bedrooms with one set of linen per bed.

Two six bedroom lodges are available for rent during the prime season. Lodges must be rented for a week at a time.

The lodges have a kitchen, with dishes, a stove, a refrigerator, and cooking utensils, as well as three bathrooms, a living room, and six bedrooms.

The lodges each sleep 16 people.

Boat launching is free to overnight guests.

History

The Occoneechi Indians lived on an island near what is today the state park until 1676.

In 1839, the Occoneechee Plantation was built on the land by William Townes. The plantation was sold to Dempsey Graves Crudup and was burned down on Christmas Eve of 1898.

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Mason Neck State Park

Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

The wetlands, ponds, and open fields of Mason Neck State Park make it an ideal location for observing and studying wildlife.

The park offers hiking, picnicking, bird watching, and canoe trips.

Location

Mason Neck, located in Northern Virginia, is just a 40 minute drive from the nation’s capital. The park provides an escape into nature for residents of the Washington D.C. suburbs.

Mason Neck State Park is a four-hour drive from Roanoke and a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Richmond.

Amenities

The park offers over five miles of unpaved trails for hiking, biking and running. The park has three miles of unpaved trails for hiking.

The paved trails vary in elevation, giving visitors the opportunity to see the park’s marshland from a bird’s eye view.

Bicycles can be rented at the park.

Fishing is permitted at Mason Neck State Park with a valid Virginia fishing license. A boat launch is available for cartop boats.

Between April and October, canoes and kayaks can be rented from the park, to explore Belmont Bay or Kane’s creek. Both of these areas offer opportunities to see eagles.

The park has one picnic shelter available for rent. The shelter has a vynil tent cover and is available between the months of May and October.

The shelter can seat up to 50 people and is equipped with eight picnic tables and two charcoal grills. Restrooms are available in the nearby general picnicking area.

The picnic shelter can be rented from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Mason Neck State Park has no designated swimming areas.

The visitor center has a newly renovated section called Explorer’s Hall. This area accommodates up to 30 people for meetings and can be reserved by calling the park’s office.

The visitor center has several nature exhibits on display, as well as a gift shop where souvenirs and snacks can be purchased.

Nature Programs

Mason Neck State Park offers pond study and bird watching programs, as well as guided nature walks and educational talks.

The park also offers guided canoe and kayak tours, eagle watches, and guided educational hikes.

The Eagle Festival is held in late April.

Junior Rangers is an educational program for children ages 7-10, offering a hands on experience with nature. The program teaches conservation and stewardship.

Wee Rangers is a program for children aged 4-6. This program is fun and interactive, providing young children with a glimpse into the natural world.

Overnight Accommodations

Mason Neck State Park offers no overnight accommodations.

History

Mason Neck State Park officially opened to the public in 1985.

The Mason Neck Conservation Committee was formed in 1965, after two bald eagle nests were spotted.

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Staunton River Battlefield State Park

Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

Staunton River Battlefield State Park is a site important to the history of the Civil War.

On June 25, 1864, 700 Confederate men, most too old or too young to be soldiers, held off more than 5,000 Union troops on a strategic bridge and protected an important supply line for the Confederate army in Petersburg.

Today, the park’s visitor center displays exhibitions and artifacts, some original to the battle in 1864.

Location

Staunton River Battlefield State Park is located in the southern portion of Central Virginia, in Randolph.

The park is less than two hours from Richmond and two hours from Roanoke. It is a three and a half hour drive from the Norfolk/ Virginia Beach area.

The battlefield is a 20 minute drive from Staunton River State Park.

Amenities

The park’s rich history is its primary amenity.

The visitor center, covering 3,800 square feet, is open from mid-April to mid-November. The center is open Wednesday through Sunday.

The center displays information on the area’s history and electric energy.

The events of the Staunton River Battle are an important part of the area’s heritage and identity. Stories of the battle have been retold and passed down for generations.

The visitor center also has a gift shop, where souvenirs can be purchased.

The park hosts Civil War re-enactments and educational programs throughout the year. On June 22, the park hosts the Great American Campout, where visitors can learn about how soldiers camped during the Civil War.

On Independence Day, the park offers free wagon rides across the battlefield grounds.

Staunton River Battlefield State Park has one picnic shelter, which can be rented from 9 a.m. to dusk.

The shelter is available on weekends from April 1 to June 15, and from September 15 to November 15. All other times of the year, the shelter is available every day.

The shelter, which accommodates up to 90 people, is outfitted with grills and several picnic tables. Restrooms are available when the visitor center is open.

Both the picnic shelter and the visitor center are wheelchair accessible.

The Staunton River has an ample amount of freshwater fish, walleye and smallmouth bass anglers. Fishing is permitted with a valid Virginia fishing license.

Buggs Island Lake, also known for its great fishing, is located a few miles downstream.

The park offers self guided historical and nature trails. Staunton River State Park, located just a few miles away, also offers hiking and biking trails.

The park does not offer overnight accommodations, but camping and cabins are available at the nearby Staunton River State Park.

This park offers no swimming or hunting.

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Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park

Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park, located in the heart of Central Virginia, commemorates a battlefield pivotal to the history of the United States.

On April 6, 1865, General Robert E. Lee lost a quarter of his army here, and was left with no choice but to surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse two days later. This battle was later called the Black Thursday of the Confederacy.

Every year in April, Sailor’s Creek State Park celebrates Living History, a series of events dedicated to reenacting and remembering the past.

Location

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park is located in Central Virginia, about an hour and a half from Richmond.

The park is a three and a half hour drive from Roanoke, and a three hour drive from Virginia Beach.

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park is just 45 minutes away from the Appomattox Courthouse, the site of the Confederate surrender.

Amenities

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park is foremost dedicated to the preservation and education of the Confederacy history associated with it.

In the car, passengers can learn about the battle while driving along Lee’s retreat by listening to AM 1610 on the radio.

The Visitor’s Center has a timeline exhibit, which covers the events of Lee’s army in their final retreat.

The timeline begins on April 2, when Confederate troops left Richmond, and continues until April 8, the day before the surrender at the Appomattox.

The exhibit displays original artifacts from the battle.

Also located at the park is The Overton-Hillsman House, which served as a hospital during the Civil War.

The house is open to visitors on weekends from April 1 to October 31. Admission to the house is free. To arrange group tours during the off season, call 804-561-7510.

Throughout the year, the park hosts several educational events.

In April, a commemoration of the Battle of Sailor’s Creek is held, and the Civil War Santa takes place in December.

Unlike many Virginia State Parks, this park has no entrance fee.

The park offers two short hiking trails, one leading to the battlefield monument and one leading to Sailor’s Creek, called the Confederate Overlook Trail.

Picnic tables and grills are available for use near the Overton-Hillsman House. The park has no picnic shelters.

Fishing is permitted on the Appomatox River, a few miles northeast of the park. Twin Lakes State Park and Holliday Lake State Park, both nearby, offer fishing and overnight accommodations.

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park offers no swimming or overnight accommodations.

Nearby Attractions

Central Virginia is an area rich in Civil War history. Other nearby attractions include the Petersburg National Battlefield, the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox, the Appomattox Courthouse National Park, and the Petersburg Siege Museum.

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Staunton River State Park

Photo Credit: Virginia Dept. Conservation & Recreation

Staunton River State Park offers plenty to do in and out of the water, making it an attractive park choice for children and and adults alike.

Located only 25 miles from the North Carolina state border, Staunton River State Park sits on 2400 acres of shoreline, woodland, and meadow.

Both the Staunton and Dan rivers weave through the park. Staunton River State Park also offers access to Buggs Island Lake, Virginia’s largest body of freshwater.

Location

Staunton River State Park is located 18 miles east of South Boston, in Scottsburg, Virginia.

From Northern Virginia, the park is a three and a half hour drive. From both Richmond and Roanoke, the park is a two hour drive.

Water Activities

Fishing is permitted, with a valid Virginia fishing license, on Dan River, Staunton River, and on Buggs Island Lake.

Bass, bluegill, crappie, and perch can be found in all three bodies of water.

A boat launching ramp is available on the park. Both motorized and unmotorized boats are permitted on Buggs Island Lake.

While the park does not rent out boats, River Traders, located just outside the park, rents small non-motorized boats, such as kayaks and canoes.

Visitors trying to escape the summer heat will find relief in the park’s Olympic sized pool. A wading pool is also located on site.

The pool has a waterslide stretching 70 feet in length. Swimming is free to overnight guests.

Amenities

Staunton River State Park has several self guided trails, open to hikers and horses. Trails extend for miles down the Dan and Staunton Rivers.

A multi use trail is open to bikers, hikers, and horses.

The park has two shelters, both of which have picnic tables, grills, and access to restrooms. These shelters accommodate up to 60 people.

Two mini shelters, which both accommodate up to 15 people, are equipped with a grill and picnic table.

Picnic shelters can be rented all day, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Shelters can be reserved by calling 1-800-933-PARK.

Overnight Accommodations

Overnight guests to Staunton River State Park can choose between camping, cabins, and the campground lodge.

Three of the four campgrounds have electric and water hookups, and one is tents only.

Each campsite has a fire ring and access to a bathhouse. The bathhouse is heated and contains a laundry facility.

Firewood can be bought at the park. Visitors are asked not to bring their own firewood.

Cabins must be rented for a week at a time between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Cabins are located on the Staunton River. Each cabin is equipped with rustic furniture, linens, heat and air conditioning, a stove, coffeemaker, dishes and utensils.

Guests are advised to bring their own food, salt and pepper, and charcoal.

The Camping Lodge, also known as the Bunkhouse, is located in the camping area. The Camping Lodge has a requirement of a two night minimum.

The lodge has seven bunk beds, a back deck, and a fire ring with a cooking grate.

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