Camping links you to nature in a manner that is difficult to define, with a sky full of dazzling stars overhead and the relaxing sounds of crickets singing. A rough, more primitive campground can teach you survival basics necessary to live off the surrounding landscape, but even the most luxurious camping trip has the power to create an unforgettable bond with the Virginia outdoors.
These campsites provide a scenic stay in some of Virginia's most intriguing regions, whether you're planning a vacation to camp near Virginia vineyards, want a short break from the city, or want a weekend retreat with your four-legged friend. So here's a list of 10 beautiful places to camp in Virginia:
10 beautiful Places to camp in Virginia
False Cape State Park on Virginia's Atlantic coast is one of the most picturesque spots in Virginia, if not the whole Eastern shore, for people with a more adventurous spirit who want to go tent camping in Virginia.
The 4,321-acre park is located immediately north of Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Currituck Banks Peninsula, a short barrier spit between the Back Bay of Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
This delectable little six-mile stretch of coastline is wonderfully protected, wild, nearly wholly undeveloped, and one of the few campgrounds in the state with no automobile access, all of which combines for a coastal camping experience that is among the greatest in the US overall.
The park's campsites are basic, with no showers, power, or facilities, but if you're willing to rough it for a few days, this locale has a lot to offer, including kayaking expeditions, bike trails, and six miles of undeveloped coastline for swimming and sunbathing. Oh, and there's a lot of serenity.
Pets are allowed in the campgrounds, but since the access trails through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge don’t permit pets, the only way to arrive with dogs is by boat. Camping reservations cannot be made on the same day, so make sure you call ahead of time. Campers should read all the details about the sites before arriving, as the area can be difficult for beginners and unprepared campers.
In the late spring through early October, New River Trail State Park is a popular destination for hikers, cyclists, fisherman, swimmers, canoeists, and horseback riders.
Cliffview, Millrace, and Double Shoals are the park's three rustic campsites. Because none of the campgrounds offer automobile access, showers, or washing facilities, this is another option for people who are willing to forego a few creature amenities in exchange for a bit more privacy and tranquilly.
Grayson Highlands State Park Campground has modest campsites with lovely views, but that's not all. The park serves as a starting point for the Appalachian Trail as well as the state's highest summit, Mount Rogers. The pathways are suitable for hiking, biking, and even horseback riding. Don't be shocked if you stumble across some intriguing species while exploring the area; wild ponies wander freely throughout the park. From November to March, there is no electricity at the sites and no water, as well as no restrooms or showers, so be prepared to rough it while camping.
There's no better area to go camping in Virginia than along the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park for those who want to experience the wildest camping the state has to offer. The park's 200,000 acres provide nearly endless chances for really wild backcountry camping.
While backcountry camping in Shenandoah requires experience, survival skills, and the ability to carry all of your own gear and supplies, the rewards are enormous—think silence, raw, unadulterated nature, and a last-human-on-earth vibe with a dash of Hunger Games and Blair Witch Project eeriness thrown in for good measure.
Lewis Mountain Campground is the smallest campground in Shenandoah National Park, located just off the Blue Mountains' Skyline Drive at mile 57.5. It is a delightfully serene choice for travelers seeking to avoid the throngs that sometimes form elsewhere in the park.
The campground has just 31 campsites and works on a first-come, first-served basis, but those that arrive early and reserve a place are rewarded with a wonderfully lovely setting that feels considerably more secluded and primitive than other camping spots in the vicinity.
The campsite is close to some of Virginia's top hiking routes and natural wonders, including as Bearfence Mountain, Dark Hollow Falls, and the 8.9-mile (and very challenging!) Old Rag Loop. Visitors who like a bit more verticality may use the campsite as a "basecamp" to explore the area's multitude of rock climbing crags, and those with more time and energy to burn can easily extend the treks in the camp's vicinity with hundreds of loop walks on the park's 500+ miles of trails.
Lewis Mountain has a small number of RV sites (all without connections), and tent campers make up the great bulk of the campground's visitors, so this place is likely to offer a little more peace and quiet than campsites with more amenities and easier access.
Big Meadows is one of Shenandoah National Park's most popular campgrounds, and for good reason. The campground is located in a remote, wooded wood near Shenandoah's main facilities and serves as a starting point for hikers heading out on any of the many nearby routes, including the Appalachian Trail.
Three waterfalls (Dark Hollow, Rose River, and Lewis Falls) are within easy walking distance of the campgrounds and provide more moderate, laid-back walks for people who don't want to put in a lot of time.
Even for those not travelling farther afield, the landscape at Big Meadows is worth a visit in and of itself, with plentiful wildlife and mountain vistas within a short walk of the campsites or, in most cases, on the other side of your tent or RV door!
Each campsite has a bathhouse with hot showers and toilets, as well as fire grates and picnic tables, washing machines, and a camp store. Visitors may also enjoy entertainment and prepared food at Big Meadows Lodge and Restaurant, which is only a five-minute walk from the campground.
Christopher Run Campground, located on Lake Anna in Louisa County, is a family-friendly campground with over 200 sites in a leafy, laid-back setting less than an hour from many historic sites such as the James Madison Museum, Michie Tavern, Montpelier, Monticello, Ash Lawn, and several Civil War battlefields.
The campsite also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including canoes, rowboats, and paddleboats for tent campers, six boat ramps for those who bring their own boats, and on-land games including volleyball, basketball, mini-golf, and shuffleboard.
Most of the sites have water and RV connections, and the campsite also has flush toilets, hot showers, a grocery, a launder, and a children's playground.
Douthat State Park in the Alleghany Mountains is one of Virginia's oldest state parks, with a variety of attractions and activities ranging from historical tours to fishing, boating, hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor sports.
A 50-acre lake, as well as approximately 45 miles of hiking and mountain-biking paths and 6 miles of bridle routes, can be found in the park. Douthat is a historical landmark in and of itself, having been placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its involvement in the construction of other state parks around the country.
History aficionados will also enjoy the USA's oldest spa at Jefferson Pools, the historic town of Lexington, a train museum in Clifton Forge, and Virginia's oldest standing covered bridge, Humpback Bridge, which is only a short drive away.
The John H. Kerr Reservoir, a 50,000-acre lake with more than 800 miles of shoreline, is home to North Bend Park & Campground. There are 26 wildlife management areas in the surrounding region, dozens of tiny coves, and a plethora of hiking paths to explore throughout the course of a season.
The campground itself includes 249 rustic and electric/water hookup sites, many of which are lakefront and only a short walk from the water's edge. Bathhouses with hot showers and toilets, flush toilets, a dump station, and public picnic spots with grills are all available at the campground. Biking, water activities aplenty, fishing, swimming, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking are all available for enjoyment.
The abundance and diversity of animals on or near the lake, however, is the major draw at North Bend. Bald eagles, whitetail deer, wild turkey, bobwhite quails, mourning doves, gray squirrels, cottontail rabbits, foxes, raccoons, wood ducks, black ducks, mallards, Canadian geese, osprey, gulls, great blue herons, and river otters are just a few of the animals you could see.
Sky Meadows is a great place to visit if you want to blend a little bit of culture and history with your nature adventures.
Sky Meadows is a 1,860-acre park with lakes, rolling pastures, miles upon miles of old-growth woodland, and a historic farmhouse at Mount Bleak that showcases the farming practices that shaped the area's unique pastoral landscape and the lifestyle of its residents from the colonial to post-Civil War periods.
The park provides primitive camping all year on sites that, due to their lack of automobile access and location one mile from the overnight parking area, are virtually always quiet. There are 22 miles of hiking trails, 10.5 miles of bridle routes, and 9 miles of bicycle trails, as well as access to the Appalachian Trail, which runs through the park for 3 miles.