The place where the first permanent British colony in mainland North America was founded in 1607, Virginia is a state with an exceptional history and abundant natural attractions. From colonial towns and Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields to various Presidential Homes, including one that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, history is never far away when camping in Virginia. Nature, too, is an intricate part of Virginia’s state identity.
On the coast, you’ll find several state parks and wildlife refuges. Additionally, there are significant historic sites such as Colonial National Historical Park, which includes Historic Jamestown and the Yorktown Battlefield. Across Chesapeake Bay, a calm wave-less bay, lie popular Cape Charles and glorious Assateague Island National Seashore with its feral horses galloping along the beaches. All around Chesapeake Bay, extensive sand beaches and shallow water attract huge crowds of sunbathers and families camping in Virginia over Summer break.
More inland, rolling vineyards and horse farms characterize the Monticello American Viticultural Area, while the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains to the west has been praised in many a country song. It’s in this region, with its undulating forested hills, rocky outcrops, countless waterfalls and rich biodiversity, that you’ll want to go camping in Virginia.
Shenandoah National Park, protecting a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains’ crest, is an outdoor playground for hikers, cyclists, wildlife watchers and road trippers alike. The only road through the park is Skyline Drive, a world-class mountain road lined with trails, campgrounds, a couple of historic lodges, and more than 70 overlooks.
At the park’s southern entrance, Skyline Drive links up with the equally scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Connecting Shenandoah with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, its 469 miles make it the longest linear park in America. From historic homesteads and the Blue Ridge Music Center to viewpoints, hiking trails and waterfalls like Crabtree Falls, its numerous attractions, combined with free access, make this the most visited unit in the entire National Park Service system.
Other great destinations for camping in Virginia are the Allegheny Highlands, home to natural hot springs, and Grayson Highlands State Park featuring rock-strewn mountain meadows, panoramic vistas and wild ponies.
We were excited for our first camping trip to Devils Backbone but have to admit that we were REALLY disappointed when we pulled up. The campground backs up to a wood heap with large grey disposal containers (not pretty) and the sites were total lackluster. But .. the biggest issue is that the park was clearly developed by someone who has never stepped foot in an rv! In an effort to save money they only installed electrical/water pedestals on every other site which means that you are tether in one direction (40 feet) to a sewage outlet and another direction ((30 feet) to electric. Fortunately, a camping neighbor let us borrow additional sewage tubing so we could have hookups. Because You are so tightly tethered you can’t line up to the picnic tables. Everyone we have talked to (including locals at wineries/breweries/cideries) have told us they repeatedly hear complaints about the lack of planning at the rv sites. We love Devils Backbone but won’t come back here to camp until this issue is fixed. By the way — if you do chose to visit ONLY accept an even numbered site!
We stayed here 3 nights during spring break (March). There is privacy and quiet beachside camping all over with tons of activities to see and do. We went to Nauticus, toured the Norfolk Naval base, visited Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, hiked trails across from the campground and visited the lighthouse Cape Henry. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table. I didn’t use the bathhouses but I liked that they were nearby and provided recycling bins. The staff were friendly and helpful. I would return in warmer months and highly recommend our site near the Godspeed boardwalk, 188.
My husband and I just purchased Smith Mountain Campground in December 2018. We are so happy to have found this gem as this has been our dream for many years. I grew up working in a campground; calling Bingo, lifeguarding, working at the concession stand. It was one of the best experiences of my teen years. The seasonals would invite us (bingo workers) over to their sites to sit by the fire and drink beer. Gosh, so many good memories!! That's what I want my new campground to be all about, GOOD MEMORIES for everyone that stays with us!! Please come visit!
Lots of sites, brand new warm and clean bath house. Sites available with and without hookups. You get a 10% discount on food and merch at the brewery…and their beer is amazing! There was only a few rvs camped when we were there. Nice place! A bit muddy because of new construction but will be great when it warms up and the new grass comes in.
Stayed here for 2 nights to be near our son at Virginia Tech plus we try to tour as many cavers as possible. Its an old campground but that's not always a bad thing. Could hear traffic because we were right under it. Toured Dixie Caverns. Unless you can climb 30 flights of stairs best not to go. Not that interesting. Like climbing a silo and climbing down the other side. But able to check off another one. Its an experience!
Fishing pier. Boat launch ,boat and kayak rental. The bay is beautiful here. Dog beach.
This is about a free campground I stay at last April . If you're into any camping, fishing, hunting, hiking or just relaxing this is a place you should check out. I did a short video on it.
The hut is 3 sides and open on the 4th, the open side faces the fire pit. There is a picnic table, privy, bear locker, and bear pole to hang additional items at the site. The hut sleeps 8 and is first come, first serve. You may end up meeting some new friends there because of this. If the hut is full, there are some tent sites available. Also the spring for water is located very close by.
We are enjoying our winterize trip now and have made reservations for 4 weeks next year already. April clam roast will kick off the 2019 season. Might be before that if I get to antsy with cabin fever.
Pros: this campground is fairly quiet (at least when I visited in fall), and has nice amenities including free hot showers.
Cons: they definitely cater to RVs. They have a primitive tent area, but it only has a vault toilet. The bathhouses (with showers and flush toilets) are all located in the loops with full hook up sites; I would expect if you had to choose to put facilities in one area over another, the tent area would make more sense since RVs have their own toilets and showers on board.
Given the chance, I probably wouldn't stay here again unless I was passing through.
Beautiful and clean state park! Firewood was on the honor system, so always be honest! Located close to the beautiful town of Chesterfield, which had a huge grocery store, which allowed us to pick up some fresh items for the fire. Already plan on revisiting this park some day.
An inexpensive place to sleep within walking distance to restaurant and brewery. New very nice and clean bathhouse. But I can't see how it can handle the amount of campsites. About 25 tent sites, maybe another 22 no hookup RV sites, 24 full hook up. Mens room has 2 toilets 3 sinks and 2 showers. Not a problem on a weekday in November. Water saver in the shower, water warm enough but never had to turn on the cold. No bench or chair to dry feet and put on sox and shoes. No wifi at site. AT&T cell service. Tent sites are close together, maybe 25 feet from table to table with little to no privacy between them. Many of the sites are illuminated by the LED floods from the bathhouse. Found myself hiding my eyes in the shadow of the trees. No trash cans. Hammock campers be aware. Most sites are so small with so few trees you may have trouble finding 2 trees within your own site. So if you want to eat, drink, camp and not have to drive, this will work. Just don't plan on getting up in the middle of the night and pee in the woods because you will probably pee on your neighbor's tent.
Sherando Lake is a well-maintained, popular campground located in the George Washington National Forest near Lyndhurst, VA. Convenient to both Richmond and Charlottesville, it brings people in for camping and day-use alike.
There are three camping loops here; a standard non-electric loop (loop A/White Oak Loop), and two RV loops (B and C). Both of the RV loops are very flat and open, with little shade or privacy between sites. They have electric hookups and drinking water available, but do not have water hookups. The tent loop is the oldest loop in this campground, and is heavily wooded, with sites along both meadow and backing up to the mountain. These sites do not have any hookups, but most have driveways large enough for campers and RVs 28' in length or under. All tent sites have fire rings, utility poles, and large picnic tables, and tent pads that are raked clear by campground hosts between guests.
The biggest benefits of this campground are its location, and the recreation area. It's about an hour and a half west of Richmond and only thirty minutes from Charlottesville, making it a great weekend trip without having to take time away from work. And as for recreation, it's wonderful. There are two lakes--the lower lake is the largest at 25 acres, and and while the beach can get crowded during peak season, it's an easy walk from the campground, with a large swimming area roped off. Canoeing is available at the lake, and there are several hiking trails, ranging from the easy lakeside trail, to more difficult trails that connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and other trails in George Washington National Forest. Fishing is available at both lakes with the proper licensing. There are several large picnic areas right on the lower lake, and a few smaller creekside spaces with picnic table and grills.
All that said; for RV campers this is an excellent campsite. While the loops with hookups are lacking in shade and privacy, having an RV or camper will afford you what the site itself lacks, and the location and activities make this a great basecamp.
For tent camping, it's good if you live in one of the nearby cities and want the shorter drive time, or if you like tent camping but still want all the benefits of front-country camping. As a place to set up camp and enjoy spending time near your tent, Sherando is exceptionally maintained. There is not a lot of opportunities for foraging for firewood, which means purchasing heat-treated wood nearby, and while the sites are very shady, there is little underbrush between sites to offer a privacy barrier. Many of the sites are staggered, with one or more levels of steps leading from the driveways. Because of all there is to do this is a great site for older kids, but we learned that, especially with toddlers, the steps around the campsites can turn a relaxing trip into one of constant vigilance.
Enjoyment of this campground will largely depend on what type of camper you are. If you are mainly looking for a place to get outside of the city, where you can set up for the night and have easy access to hiking, fishing, swimming, or boating, this is a great campground. This is where we typically chose to take friends if they were new to camping, as the bathrooms are well-lit, the road is paved, and the sites are so well-maintained. Plus at $20 a night, while it's more expensive than its neighbors in Shenandoah National Park or Cave Mountain Lake, it's a shorter drive from the neighboring cities, and doesn't have the additional NPS fee. However, if you want something that feels more rugged, or with campsites that offer a greater feeling of privacy, it would be better to skip this one.
This is a pretty neat little camping area in George Washington National Forest. Some friends and I stayed here for a couple of nights when we wanted to get away from school for the weekend. The campground is really cute. You can swim in the nearby lake, there is a little beach, bathrooms are nice with showers, and there's fresh water. It was the perfect place to take my less outdoorsy friends who had never camped before.
Also, nearby is one of my favorite hikes in the area, Humpback Rocks. This hike is super short, only about a mile, but there is a lot of elevation gain, so it can still be pretty strenuous. The view from the top is awesome though. It's also the perfect place to see a sunrise. I highly recommend this hike, and the area in general.
If you get bored with camping, you can always visit Charlottesville, which isn't too far of a drive away. The city has tons of history (go TJ!), great sports at UVA, and amazing food. I never miss a chance to talk it up.
Really amazing area!
This is a huge campground it has 137 sites that is right in between two mountains. Each site has picnic tables, lantern poles, tent pads, food storage lockers, and campfire rings. 63 of their sites are available for advanced reservation and then 79 first come-first serve basis. The bath house has flush toilets, water spigots, but no showers. There is also no electric, water, or sewer hook-ups.
Lots of hiking trails, but make sure you look at the map because we unfortunately did not look at it well enough and thought that the trail was a loop when it led to the opposite side of the mountain and we had to hitch hike back to the campsite. The trails are well marked and lead to awesome views. Rate is $20 a night.
With camping just a moderate day hike away from Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia, this campground is a hiker's paradise.
There is little to no cell signal here, so coming to Grayson Highlands is one of the few state parks in Virginia where you can truly go "off the grid" during the length of your stay--and you won't miss technology, because there is so much to do at this park. From the aforementioned Mount Rogers--an 8.5 mile out-and-back, to the 1.5 mile but difficult Cabin Trail that takes you to a waterfall, to the wild ponies who will approach hikers along the Rhododendron Trail, any fitness level will find hiking they can enjoy. When we stayed the outer bands of Hurricane Michael brought so much fog and rain that we were not able to see any of the ponies, but we did hear one a couple of times, very near Massie's Gap!
As for camping there are two frontcountry campgrounds. All sites have picnic tables and fire rings, and bathrooms with electricity and flush toilets*
Chestnut Hollow Campground:
-There are 23 sites here with water and electric hook-ups May-October, and this loop is available as primitive camping March, April, and November. *During this time bathrooms are pit toilets only
-Horse-friendly; there are stables located adjacent to this loop
-These sites are very small; if you are in a tent I recommend no larger than a 4 person.
-Not a lot of privacy between sites, especially near the back of the loop. Most sites are right agains the road and have little space to move around; I would not recommend this loop if you have small children who are going to want space to run and play
Hickory Ridge Campground
-This is the larger of the loops at GHSP; there are 64 campsites ranging from standard tent sites without water or electric, to full service sites with water and electric hookups.
-Tent sites 1-18 are the furthest from hookup sites and will therefore be the quietest; they are mostly small sites and very close to the road. Sites 10, 12, 13, and 14 are set back furthest from the road. There is a path behind sites 2-14 leading to the bathhouse behind site 14. Site 13 is easily the most private--and arguably the only truly private--tent site in this campground, with the driveway going behind a cluster of trees that shields the site from the road. We stayed in site 12 which easily fit our 6 person tent.
-Sites 31 and 32 are on a meadow the campsite loops around; they have no privacy and little shade, but ample room for kids to run around, and there is a set of swings near these sites. They are however right on the road so it may be easier to just walk to the swings and keep littles in a site without as much traffic. There is water right across from both of these sites.
-Even-numbered hookup sites 60-70 are also right on the meadow with very little shade
-All other sites are heavily shaded, although you'll be close to your neighbors
The camp store near the Hickory Ridge Loop sells ice, firewood, and just about anything you may possibly have forgotten to pack--firestarters, first aid supplies, marshmallows, and has as a gift shop with blankets, outerwear, and kitschy souvenirs.
Normally I would take off a star for lack of privacy of tent sites, however there is so much hiking here that your campsite can really be more of a basecamp than a place you want to sit and hang out all day long!