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!
Pulled in here an hour after closing and was a little spooked. Very small campground, maybe 50 sites in all. Even after calling to reserve, we were left to just choose a site and drop off the money. Sites were tight.
We stayed here overnight on our way to Washington DC from Kentucky. We had a pull-thru site that was pretty much level but was very close to the other campers. This campground seems to have a lot of permanent residents. Overall, this campground is good for one or two nights but not for long periods of stays. This campground also owns a cavern that campers can go inside for a discounted rate. They also offer bathhouses that were okay, but could use some remodeling.
You are in budget country. Great price and affordable attraction that will not disappoint. Right off the interstate so easy acess. Small spaces but everyone was very friendly.
Dixie Caverns is a privately owned campground, slash tourist site ( dixiecaverns.com ) located at the outskirts of Salem, VA.
Warning: In the website, they do state the campground is "directly off I-81," and it is. The fact is, you are surrounded on three sides by roadway…and the actual Dixie Cavern is at the base of a mountain, so all the road traffic is above the campground and the noise reverberates off the mountain and surrounding walls 24/7. Trust me when I say, semi-truck noise is loud during the twilight hours when the din of the day has disappeared.
We spent two different multiple-day stays at Dixie Caverns in the Spring, partly out of necessity and partly because of its close proximity to a desired venue in Salem. So I can attest to the traffic noise never letting up.
The Positive: Dixie Caverns Campground serves a need…a campground close to Salem. The next closest campground is an hour's drive and in heavy traffic…longer. It is also one of the closest campgrounds to several of Virginia's most popular hiking trails (AT) and scenic overlooks (Dragon's Tooth, Tinker Cliffs, etc). So people will use this as a "base camp" of sorts.
The personnel that run the Dixie Cavern Gift Shop, are also those you see to pay for a camping site…and I found them very friendly and helpful.
If you are visiting there to tour the Dixie Caverns…you are a hundred feet away from the mountain doorway.
The campground is tiny, as in footprint, but they have carved out a number of RV/Camper sites along the mountain base and the inner loops…and during our stays very few openings were observed. Water, electric and cable is provided at each of those pull-through sites. They are of adequate size for the largest of RV's, but they are side-by-side the length of the loop. No vegetation exists between or on those sides but some grass and some spaced large trees. Perhaps the RV/Camper clan camp there out of necessity and convenience too. Though there is a limit on the days of your stay, it appears that some are exempt from this rule. Some campers are permanent fixtures…others that were not, were still in the same location from the first visit to the next visit 30 days later. Several employees live full-time on site.
Tent camping is in the grass along the creek that runs down to the Roanoke River across the roadway. During the heavy rains we received, I had concerns that this raging creek would overflow its banks, but it did not. Trash was visible washed along its banks. The sites are marked only by a picnic table and rock fire ring…no other designation, so you chose a side of the fire ring to pitch your tent. Even with the heavy rains, I did not notice low, soggy areas. There is several large hardwood trees that provide a nice canopy, but no foliage between tenting areas…so the entire campground is line of sight. I believe there were only six tent sites (technically), but overflow tent sites are also along the grassy field across from the Gift Shop. Important note: If you are considering a good night's sleep in a tent (not sure of the sound dampening qualities of RV/Campers), ear-plugs are a must!
The showerhouse/restroom are located at the beginning of the campground, which is just the other side of the day use picnic area and the Gift Shop/Attraction parking lot. The doors are locked 24/7 and only campers receive the "push-button" door code (which the code did not change from both visits…not a secure safety protocol). The showerhouse/restroom has running water, flush toilets and several showers, and an electric outlet. It shows its age and looks like a heavily used campground facility. For tent campers, its the only potable water source.
There is both cell service and free wifi…which is amazing! I can count on my one finger how many campgrounds in W.VA and VA that had cell service.
The Negative: You must leave the campground for anything you'd like to do, other than the Caverns…and sitting in your camp chair.
There are no trails or other amenities…and the trails closeby…are still a 20-30 minutes drive on a good day.
Whether or not tenters are in the tent area, this is the dog walking area. They are required to pick up…but it is aggravating…because if it doesn't pour, the smell remains.
Did I mention the truck traffic noise? The overall condition of Dixie Caverns appears dated, a bit run-down, and dirty.
Would I stay there again? Odds are I will spend one more collegiate softball post season and World Series staying at Dixie Caverns Campground next spring, purely out of convenience and necessity.