Where to Go Camping in Virginia

Sky Meadow State Park, Delaplane,VAVirginia, blessed with 34 state parks, 14 designated nature areas, 4 national parks, 2 national forests and nearly 25 percent of the entire Appalachian Trail, can satisfy your camping wishes with almost any terrain: coastal, mountain or anywhere in-between. Virginia boasts 8 distinctive natural regions that make nearly any type of camping accessible and enjoyable, thanks to a system of trails, roads, campgrounds and amenities that connect the various regions.

Types of Camping

First, identify what kind of camping you'd like to do. Some of the many options at Virginia's campgrounds are tent camping, AT camping, RV camping, group camping, motorcyclist camping, waterfront camping and backcountry camping. Luckily, the state's accommodations are listed on various websites (see Resources below) and you should be able to find what you're looking for. Since Virginia is such a large state, with so many offerings for recreation and leisure, you may want to choose a region, find a central camping location and use that as a home base to explore the surrounding area.

Features: Check out these options!

If you're heading for the coastal region, check out First Landing State Park, the state's most popular park. It commemorates the first landing and settlement of the settlers who later founded Jamestown, and features water sports, hiking, boating and more on the Chesapeake Bay. If you're a birdwatcher, or just want to see the beaches and trails of the Bay, check out Kiptopeke State Park, with fishing, hiking biking and swimming. Both sites are centrally located among a variety of activities in the region.

If you're heading to the famous Natural Bridge, or the Natural Bridge Caverns, check out nearby Cave Mountain Lake, centrally located in the Shenandoah Valley among countless natural areas and historic sites. The campground is state-operated and contains family, RV and group sites in a wooded setting.

Just an hour from Washington, D.C., the Sky Meadows State Park (picture above) not only provides access to the Appalachian Trail, but also provides woodlands and pastures perfect for hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding and more. Or make your way to the northern region's Lake Anna State Park, where prospectors used to hunt for gold and where you can now fish, boat, play water sports and camp on the lakefront (reservations required).

Of course, you can always check out the Appalachian Trail, since Virginia is home to more than 550 miles of the famous scenic route! The Shenandoah Valley State Park alone keeps more than 54 well-maintained miles of the most non-intensive Trail section, with lots of side loops and access to campgrounds. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, head for central Virginia, where the Trail begins climbing among rock formations and diverse natural habitats. The toughest section of the Trail is thought to be the southwest portion, where it climbs into the Appalachians and gains high-elevation views. Most of the Virginia trails have the volunteer-maintained sleeping cabins, which can be rented ahead of time for a small fee, and much of the Appalachian Trail crisscrosses the existing state parks where camping is available.

Article Written By Emily Elder

Emily works as a Greenway coordinator and parks project manager in her local community, and has been hiking, camping, fishing and riding all over the mountains of western North Carolina. She enjoys being outside with her family, especially her two children, Creedence and Mason, and her husband, James, and lives on a small farm surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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