Hungry Mother State Park, Royal Oak Campground, Marion VA…site 3. https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/hungry-mother
Campground Overview: Located outside of Marion VA
Hungry Mother State Park is somewhat split up and fragmented on either side of a local highway and the first campground is distanced from the other two. So a little different than most parks but not necessarily a negative.
The Visitor’s Center is on the left after the first campground (Camp Burson) and across the roadway from the reservoir and beach area. The remaining two campground loops are past the beach area…one to the right along a feeder stream (Creekside Campground) and opposite that is the third loop (Royal Oak Campground) on the side of a hill with wooden platforms for tents.
I was hoping to paddle this meandering reservoir but it was being drained for bridge work…so it was six feet or so lower than normal. Even the migrating geese weren’t too happy about it, as they waddled around on the mud.
During the peak of the summer season, it appears that it would be very popular with s nice swimming beach, paddlecraft rentals, cabin rentals, conference center, ample covered picnic pavilions and both paved and dirt trails.
I stayed on site 3 in Royal Oak Campground, pitching the tent on a 20’x20’ leveled wooden platform. Several pros and cons to elevated platforms.
Pros: It’s level and large enough for any tent I’ve ever seen. Water drains pretty decent between wood decking, so no pooling. D-ring lashing points were attached to the decking to assist in securing tent or rainfly.
Cons: When the cold wind blows, it’s hard to retain heat in the tent…360 cold. While there are D-ring lashing points, they don’t accommodate every tent of rainfly. Previous knucklehead campers drill Tapcon screws or nails in the wood decking and rails to secure their tent…then leave them there so everyone else snags or rips their tent on them.
It rained for 12 hours straight with cold, high winds…so it was a bit chilly, but still enjoyable.
What I enjoyed: deer wandering through the grounds, the Molly’s Knob Trail and Vista Summit,
The ugly: the lake (reservoir) was drained. Heaters weren’t on in the shower rooms…37 degree showering gets tricky.
Campground review: Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, VA. This park has something for everyone. Hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, swimming. There are interesting campfire get togethers too. Two campgrounds, one up the hill, the other on the main road. Secluded cabins and yurts. We stayed in the smaller campground at the top of the hill. There is electric at each site and plenty of room for more then one tent, hammocks and small campers. A nice showerhouse with dish sink on the end. You will get your exercise walking the rolling loop still campground and hill. There is a yurt in this campground with a nice deck. Some visitors saw a bear near the backside of the lake, but I didn’t see any large wildlife. The cabins are located on the backside of the lake with some nice porches to sit and enjoy the evening breeze. The beach is popular, there are kayaking programs and paddle boats. You could easily stay a week here. Two things to do while your here is ONE: check out DIP DOGS a very popular and busy restaurant and TWO: the “Back of the Dragon” an AWESOME DRIVING TOUR across the mountains from Marion to Tazewell, VA.
Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I have the opportunity to check out some awesome outdoor products. Outdoor Element stuff is like survivalist gear that can be carried with you all the time. Bracelets that can be used to make fire, use as fishing line and as rope. This bracelet has a fish hook “embedded” in it and a flint and striker for sparks. Cool thing they do is give you a piece of the 550 cord used for the bracelet to take apart and experiment with. Watch my video for more information. I wear the bracelet all the time now so it’s a little stinky , ;p not sure about washing it, but I am going to the site to find out.
Stayed in a small cabin for thanksgiving and it was quite and peaceful. There was 2 small bedrooms and a very tiny kitchen. The living room had a fireplace and a bundle of wood was provided with reservation.
Great campsites. Trail to the beach area along the water. Paddle board. Just a great place to relax. Full hook ups.
Clean, well maintained & very enjoyable park. The Lake Trail is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. The history surrounding this place is well worth looking into.
We had site 17. It was long and wide enough. Trees kept us cooler. Very clean. Restrooms and showers very clean. Had a store.
We loved this campground! We stayed here for our longest camping trip yet - 5 nights! The campsite is on a wooden platform on a wooded hill which turned out to be very cool! It help reign in the kids and provided a nice flat surface for the tent. There was a decent amount of fire wood that we foraged from around the campsite and up the hill but they do sell firewood at the visitors center. Our campsite 11 at Royal Oak campground was the most secluded of the sites, which was sweet, but there is a bit longer of a walk from your car up the stairs to the site. And the longest walk of all the sites to the bathrooms which are up a hill. It had a fire ring and picnic table and plenty of room to set up a tent. We ended up hanging a hammock from the deck as well! The bathrooms are great, very clean. I appreciated the unisex/family bathrooms that had a shower, so helpful with kids.
So much to do here! Scenic views, so many hiking trails, rhododendrons blooming everywhere, a beautiful warm lake to swim in, boating, fishing!
The beach did get very crowded during the day, but we were there 4th of July weekend so I pretty much expected that. Early in the morning the beach was empty. The beach is guarded and has a diving board! The water was very clean and not too cold. Lots of bathrooms around the lake and picnic areas. We also rented a canoe for a few hours which was fun and affordable.
Of course, you have to hike to Molly's Knob - Vista Trail for the best view at the park! It is pretty tough uphill but the scenic views are worth it! We found wild berries growing at the top, which was a nice treat after that hike.
Also, the Rangers were friendly and helpful when we got a dead battery in our car!
We loved camping here - already making plans to come back next year!
There are 3 campgrounds in Hungry Mother SP. Camp Burson is the easiest to get to and the one we stayed at. Creekside and Royal Oak campgrounds are further into the park up a windy narrow road. Camp Burson is flat and very well maintained gravel pads. Creekside is a little hilly with blacktop pads and Royal Oak is very steep with deck like structures at each site to set up on. Royal Oak is used primarily for tents. There is a restaurant which we did not try and a place to rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boats along with a very nice looking beach on the lake. Every stop has a gift shop. The biggest draw at this park is their trails ranging from easy to hard. Spend a day or spend a week you won't be disappointed. They have yurts in Camp Burson and Royal Oak. Don't remember seeing any in Creekside.
I could easily give this campground five stars, but I am the type of tent camper that likes more wilderness. This campground actually a few "campgrounds" within the park and for almost every type of camper. Camp Burson is the first one you see upon entering the state park (as far as I know, since the park is really lonnggg! It is best suited for RVs, but there are gravel spaces for tents. Another campground in the park has pull-through sites, but there were also a couple of tents there. Since we are mainly tent campers, we went to the third camping area, which also had yurts. The yurts have one double bed but not water. The part that I didn't like, but many tent campers would love, is that you have to pitch your tent on a wooden deck. It's great for camping in the rain because the water doesn't have a chance to puddle. However, I'm the type that likes more primitive camping out in the woods, but I'm not holding that against Hungry Mother. Hungry Mother is a great state park, and the sites are wonderful (unless you are strange like me and prefer more primitive camping). As we drove around, we also saw several cabins and at least one or two lodges. I got the feel that it was almost a gated community, which for some people is not a bad thing. Again, there are opportunities for almost every type of "camper."
As far as I know, this is the first state park that had a restaurant. Unfortunately, we were there in April before it opened, so we missed out on that. The bath and shower facilities are modern with tile floors, which I find as a pleasant surprise for a state park. Camping there is April can actually be a good thing. You can avoid the crowds at the beach (although the water is cold) and there are a good number of empty campsites. This state park also has canoe, kayak, and paddle boat rentals. There is a basketball court and a playground, which is next to the beach. We didn't really stay long enough to enjoy the hiking trails or the fishing, but there are several hiking and biking trails from easy to moderate. The beauty of this park is amazing! With the background of mountains behind the lake, it doesn't get much better. I really would love to go back again and camp for more than just one night to enjoy it all.
First thing we were told by the park rangers was to, 'beware of bears"! Seriously! It was a beautiful park with large lake. We hiked to the lake from our site, only 1.2 miles. The lake had a diving platform in the middle, which of course we had to try! The bottom was so deep, I never hit it! Saw many beautiful flowers, and lots of ducks. There was a very clean laundry room.