Camping in Virginia can be back-to-basics primitive, on well-developed tent sites with electric/water hookups, or on RV sites with resort-style amenities, such as cable TV!
According to statistics, more baby boomers are buying RVs, and the Gen-Xers are jumping on board, too.
Virginia welcomes you, your family, your friends and even your beloved pets to experience fresh air, woodlands, mountain streams, rolling surfs, wildflowers, star-studded skies, critters, crackling campfires and glowing marshmallows on a stick.
Virginia State Parks
Virginia State Parks, voted "America's Best," have campgrounds in 22 of its parks. They're open March 1 through the last weeks of December.
Most campsites accommodate six people per site, and larger group camping areas are available, too. All developed campsites have water, picnic tables and grills, and they provide marked paths to bath houses and toilets.
Primitive Hike-In / Canoe-In Sites
Primitive hike-in sites for backpackers are available at False Cape, New River Trail and Sky Meadows State Parks. If you prefer to canoe-in, go to Shenandoah River, Belle Isle and York River State Parks. Adventure calls!
Most Virginia State Parks offer hiking trails, fishing, playgrounds and picnic facilities. Some have bicycle trails, bridle trails and swimming pools, too. Most of them rent sports equipment needed for the particular park, such as boats, bikes and even the horses!
National Parks in Virginia
Shenandoah National Park
Open for primitive backcountry camping is Shenandoah National Park. Obtain free permits by mail or during open park hours (between sunrise and one hour before sunset).
The park is home to large populations of black bears, so items that smell — food, fragrant soaps, toothpaste — must be bagged and dangled from a rope at least 10-feet up a tree. This kind of "roughing it" is suited for experienced campers only.
About 549 miles of the Appalachian Trail runs through Virginia, 107 miles of it is in Shenandoah National Park. The trail here is well-maintained, excellent for beginning hikers. Enjoy an abundance of wildlife and beautiful mountain vistas. Many folks camp in the woodlands off the trail.
Campgrounds along Skyline Drive include Big Meadows, Mathews Arm, Lewis Mountain, Loft Mountain and a group-only campground, Dundo. Park Rangers oversee all the campgrounds, which are recommended for families with little ones and less experienced campers.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway offers campground areas from May through October; they're maintained by Park Rangers. Visit ReserveUSA.com for reservations.
» Peaks of Otter at MP 86 features 82 tent sites, 59 RV sites and 62 picnic sites. Amenities include camping supplies, trails, fishing, telephone and visitor center.
» Rocky Knob at MP 167 features 81 tent sites, 28 RV sites and 72 picnic sites. Amenities include telephone, trails, fishing and a visitors center.
Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
Trace the footsteps of Daniel Boone on the Wilderness Road and explore Gap Cave, a majestic underground cathedral, with Park Rangers, at Cumberland Gap National Park.
National Forests in Virginia
Cascades Waterfall in
Geroge Washingtion National Forest
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
George Washington & Jefferson National Forests flow together along the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. About 2,000 miles of hiking trails, including 330 miles of the Appalachian Trail, are major attractions, as well as lakes, ponds and streams for swimming, boating and fishing galore!
Another popular attraction is the Virginia Creeper Trail for biking and hiking.
One of the most popular family campgrounds is Sherando Lake Recreation Area, which features 65 family campsites as well as a sandy beach swimming area!
Camping season is from April to the end of October. Reservations for developed campgrounds can be made online at ReserveUSA.com. Primitive sites and remote camping are also permitted.
Prince William Forest National Park
Prince William Forest National Park features tent and RV camping for six campers per site at its Oak Ridge Campground, which is open all year. Travel Trailer Village is for RVs only, and Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground is for seven or more campers per group. Chopawamsic Backcountry campsites are available with a permit.
KOA — Kampgrounds Of America — in Virginia
With 13 campgrounds in Virginia, most KOAs are located near popular tourist attractions and feature family amenities such as heated swimming pools, safe hiking trails, beautiful natural surroundings as well as Internet access and telephones. KOAs are perfect for family reunions, too!
» Chesapeake Bay/Smith Island KOA features a fishing and crabbing pier as well as cruises.
» Williamsburg KOA features special theme weekends with tickets to Busch Gardens, Water Country USA and Colonial Williamsburg.
» Natural Bridge KOA is near the Natural Bridge and Virginia Safari Park.
» Other popular KOA campgrounds are: Wytheville, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Colonial Central, Front Royal Skyline Drive, Deer Run, Harrisonburg-New Market, Bowling Green, Staunton-Verona and Hidden Acres.
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park
Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp Resort has three resorts in Virginia — Luray, Natural Bridge and Emporia — featuring swimming pools, paddleboat, miniature golf, ballfield, playground and game rooms for the kids.
The resorts have developed campsites for tents and RVs, and cabins nestled in beautiful settings, just like in the wilderness, but right around the bend is everything you might need, such as a supply store, laundromat and snack bar!
Cherrystone Family Camp & RV Resort
Located on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay, 300-acre Cherrystone has 700 shaded campsites as well as on-site trailer rentals and cabins, four swimming pools, and an 18-hole miniature golf course and clubhouse with video games.
Bethpage Camp Resort
Bethpage in Urbanna offers waterfront camping on the banks of the Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay. Families enjoy large, level campsites with full hookups, paved roads, bike and paddle boat rentals, two swimming pools with lifeguards, as well as a swimming lake and sandy beach!
Montebello Camping and Fishing Resort
A lakefront campground just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Shenandoah Valley, Montebello Camping and Fishing Resort has full hook-up sites for tents, pop-ups and RVs. The Comfort Station features hot showers, restrooms and private dressing rooms.
Kids especially enjoy the stocked trout ponds, where their catch is guaranteed and sold by the pound. Since you're fishing on private property, fishing licenses are not required. It's a great way to introduce the sport to kids and discouraged adults.
Written and contributed by Virginia Toursim