the dyrt
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Altavista, VIRGINIA
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Traditional, friendly, relaxed, family-owned, repeater, camper-focused

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!

Suitable for a weekend

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!

Hidden gem only 3 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway

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.

https://youtu.be/cx_TRZDadIo

Great Trails

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.

nice little AT shelter

I stayed at this AT shelter when I was doing a section hike with some friends. It's not bad as far as shelters on the AT go. There is not a water source too close to the shelter. The closest one is about 3 miles North. The sites aren't bad though, pretty flat. There is also a wooden shelter maintained by the AT, but those aren't my favorite to sleep in. Seemed nice as far as they go though.

I was hiking a little section that includes Mcafee Knob, one of the most photographed spots on the AT. This spot is really awesome. It can also just be done as a day hike, so I recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind a 8ish mile hike. Another cool thing about this area is that there's some fairly nice bouldering to be found near the top. Some of the routes are a little under maintained and mossy, but there are some fun ones. Lugging a crash pad all the way to the top isn't the most fun, but worth it if you want to get some cool bouldering in.

Premium Virginia Camping

This is hands-down my favorite campground in Virginia.

To start--it's very well maintained, but has a lot of personality. The bathrooms are simple but clean, there is potable water convenient to all sites, and most sites you can park you car right at your site, but the absence of a paved road or sectioned off tent sites, and the creek that runs through the entire campground, gives a feeling of peace and wilderness that can be hard to find in front country camping. None of the sites at this campground have electric or water hookups, but all sites have picnic tables and fire rings.

Sites 1-27 are in the main loop. The creek winds through this loop providing the sound of water and a place to splash in. The inner ring is still fairly wooded but has less privacy, and the outer ring on the eastern side has long driveways to accommodate larger campers/RVs.

Sites 28-35 are on a spur off the main loop, and have a higher degree of privacy. These sites are slightly more rugged, and best for smaller tents; site 35 however is both large, flat, and private, and is next to the trailhead to one of the campground's hiking trails. The bathroom in this leg has multiple stalls, electricity, and flush toilets.

Sites 36-38 are walk-in only, though the walk is very short, and crosses a lovely bridge over the creek. Sites 37 and 38 are very small; a 1-4 person tent should be fine, but anything larger than that is unlikely to fit. The sites are bordered by a small meadow on one side, and a hill on the other. Site 36 is arguably the best site in the entire campground if you are comfortable carrying your gear a few dozen yards from the parking lot. This site has a high degree of privacy, especially from late spring to early fall when the trees have their leaves, it can accommodate 6+ person tents, and is right beside the creek which gives you a wonderful sound to fall asleep to. This one is especially great for kids!

Sites 39 and 40 also border the meadow at the back of the campground but you can park directly at the site so they work for campers, and sites 41 & 42 form a double site; because it is a double site it is more expensive to book, but you are set back from the remainder of the campground, as well as being beside both the creek and next to a trailhead. Group campsites are available closer to the day-use area.

The hosts at this campground are some of the nicest we have ever encountered, and we have been going here for years. They also frequently pile logs from downed trees next to the dumpsters in early spring, providing ample firewood if you have the means to split it yourself.

There is a lake and picnic grounds for day-use, along with a few hiking trails, however the day use areas are not regularly monitored; the lake is swim-at-your-own-risk, and there are no boat or fishing gear rentals. There is no camp store to purchase firewood or provisions, but there is a privately owned way-station a few miles before the entrance of the campground. Plan on bringing in everything you will need for your trip, unless you want to add time driving on the winding roads leading to the campground to and from the local stores.

FREE Camping In The National Forest!! Can't Beat That

I was recommended this spot by a fellow Youtube travel blogger which also focuses on budget friendly camping. They do car camping in a midsize truck and can sometimes get to places I cannot, but I went ahead and tried this one out and I was NOT disappointed.

The road out to this location is a little bumpy in places but traveling in my small car I just drove slowly in some areas and it was no big deal. The site is used often by hunters in National Forest so seasonally it can get pretty busy, but when I was traveling through it was before the season kicked off so I had only one neighbor and tons of beautiful deer to look at along the way.

When I arrived the area seemed pretty spacious and though it had a lot of trees around the spaces themselves were cleared enough that an RV could easily navigate into the bounds without issue. The campground itself is pretty primitive, pit toilets and nothing more. There are some fire rings built by stones found around camp but not all the areas have them so you might be stuck looking for more stones if you are here on a more busy weekday or weekend.

I set up on a little cove not far from the restroom area and had a few small downed limbs to move which I ended up using as firewood. Since there were no picnic tables my small gas grill wasn't in the ideal location for my liking on the dry ground so I opted to instead use the campfire to prepare my food, which made me feel a bit safer considering.

At night because there were only two campers it was dark early and eerily quiet. I could hear everything around me which after I really got comfortable was quite peaceful with the water in the distance, the tress blowing in the wind and owls.

The next morning a sprinkle of leaves falling were everywhere and damp just showcasing that fall in this area was indeed coming soon. I can only imagine the vibrant colors as it nears taking over more and more in this wooded area. It could be quite beautiful especially near the falls area, which was one of my favorite things about this location.

TIPS:

  • On the kiosk as you enter camp there are a lot of pieces of information about the area and the regulations, I would recommend checking that out before settling in. Especially as hunting season nears there are things you will want to know before roaming around.
  • Bring everything with you there are no stores in the area and no tables to set up at your camp so you will need literally EVERYTHING.
Great place!

First, middle of summer, no big issue! Was a stopover trip on our way to Pigeon Forge. nice canmpground and pool. Very close to Natural Bridge.

Something for everyone!

Jrsp has activities and camping to accommodate everyone. Primitive camping loop, r.v.. loop, equestrian loop, cabin loop, and riverside camping and group available. Several shelters avail for use also. Several miles of trails in the sprawling park can be used by hikers , bikers, and horseback. Canoe livery rents tubes and kayaks for use. Boat launch and pick up service avail at end of float. No motors. Fishing opportunities include James river and a few ponds. Breathtaking views are plenty in this beauty of a park. Very nice quiet area at night. You can hear and see trains that parallel the river on the other side and can see a river crossing as goes over the tye river where it enters the james from the tye river overlook. Offers an amazing view of area from an elevated platform that can be accessed by hike bike or wagon ride! In any case much to see and do at James river state park!

Family Favorite

Been going to this campground for over 40 years. Love that it is right beside a clean water supply with lots of trout

A bit expensive for no more than it was

I selected this site. because it was near Natural Bridge and all that it has to offer. There were not a lot of options in the area so I bit the bullet and paid $30 for a site for the evening. While the facility was typical of a KOA I was not entirely impressed by the overall price to amenity ratio, especially after seeing other campgrounds in Virginia along this trip and their price being so vastly different.

Let me just give a full disclosure on this…. There are tent sites which cost less here, BUT there are only 5 of them in the entire campground so if you end up there on a weekend don't count on them being open at all. I even checked just for a reference of how booked they are and even checking some 2 weeks in advance on a random week day the same results appeared, NO BOOKINGS.

During summertime I can see how this place would attract a lot of people with the pool and various options, but in my opinion that does not offset the price point. And RV sites, which are more costly looked hard to get into with larger units.

My site was even and pretty basic despite having electricity. It was just across from the deluxe cabins and close to the restroom which I liked. Everything seemed well lit at night.

This campground being my hub only I did enjoy that it was very close to the town of Lexington itself as well as Natural Bridge, which is a pretty cool site with a lot of interesting history as well.

TIPS:

  • If you want a primitive site book well in advance. These are apparently quite a difficult ticket to score at this camp.
  • Call ahead about RV lengths to make sure you are booking the correct site for your size. I noticed more than a few people struggling with their units and some of this could have been avoided with proper booking.
  • Check into local sites!! There is a zoo and dinosaur area as well as the Natural Bridge, hiking and a historic downtown.
Beautiful Area

I would highly recommend staying at the State Park! don’t go cheap and go with another campsite. that state park has amazing views, awesome trails, and places to rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards.

Quiet, remote, rustic charm

Cute little Mountain Campground. Tucked into the hillside, and only about 4 other campers while we were there, so it really felt like we had backpacked to the backcountry, when really we just drove up and set up the tent! Bathrooms were running water, but no showers and could use some updating (broken tiles, latches on doors, etc.) but all cosmetic. Definitely not the worst we saw on our 3 week trip, and the quiet greenness of the sites made up for it!

Family Friendly

Been here a few times as campers and as guests. They have play grounds, mini golf, a game room, air pillow, a pool with a kids area and water slides. If that isn’t enough, there is a lake with a big blow up slide and more in the center and also has river access. You can get free life jackets to use and can rent out boats for the river. They also do lots of activities for kids and families to participate and have fun. There is a small market on site, and a cafe with a grill. You can camp in a tent, RV/camper or you can rent a cabin. You are also right by Natural Bridge State Park and Dixie Caverns. Zoofari and more. So there is also plenty to do right around the area as well.

Perfect overnight stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway

My wife and I stayed here for one night driving along The Blue Ridge Parkway. The creek ran right through our spacious and secluded site. It was quiet and serene- just what we were looking for before heading back to city life.

Very quiet, shady and secluded!

We stayed in site #7, in the trailer loop. It was a pull-through site with an additional area containing a picnic table and fire ring, accessible via a small set of steps up the hill. The whole campground is kind of “carved” out of the mountain, and is therefore quite terraced in appearance, so a lot of sites had a similar setup to ours (as in, a lower pull-through space for trailer and TV plus an upper “walk-up” area). I hadn’t seen anything like it before, and I thought it was really neat. The setting was heavily wooded, so the shade combined with the higher elevation made for a very cool, pleasant retreat from the July heat.

Facilities/Overall Park: Bath house was decent. On the ladies’ side, there were three flush toilets, two sinks with cold water only, and no soap. Was pretty old, but reasonably clean and adequate for our needs, since we were just passing through for one night. The CG as a whole looked kind of overgrown and neglected, but for some reason that added to its charm for me. The overgrowth made everything look extra green and lush, and I really like the heavily forested, secluded feel.

Surrounding Area/Attractions: The Peaks of Otter area seems to be a pretty popular destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is a nice-looking lodge and restaurant on the (gorgeous) lake right around the corner from the campground, as well as an NPS visitor center, hiking trails, and a shuttle bus service that takes you to the top of one of the three peaks for which the area is named. We didn’t partake in any of these activities, since we were just passing through on our way down to the Smokies, but it would have been nice to explore a bit more.

Overall, I felt this was a very pretty, peaceful, and perfectly serviceable campground for an overnight stop, and would make a nice weekend destination. Not sure there is enough going on in the area to keep one occupied for more than a few days, and I know I personally would need at least electric hookups and showers for any type of extended stay. However, I wouldn’t hesitate to return for a night or two!

Cool place

Nice camping an fun stuff in the area

Great hiking and camping experience

It was such a nice area and a great hike. The hike was long and steep at times but it was so beautiful and nice. Loved this area

Great area

The campground is good and the area is great. There is so much to do in the Lynchburg area

Small but sweet

This was a nice place to stay, Natural Bridge is a small town and not to crazy. Beautiful area but not much to do, there is a small museum and the natural bridge. You have to pay to hike and it is kind of expensive. It was nice to stay there for a night but I wouldn’t stay longer than that.

Needs Improvement

Located in a beautiful part of central Virginia, this campground gives you lots of options for sightseeing. It is definitely worth a trip to the Natural Bridge. The nearby town of Lexington has many historic buildings, and the town seems very dog-friendly. The campground is kept very clean, and the staff is very helpful. However, the sites are small and not leveled well. Although my camper is only 15’ long, I ran out of shims trying to level my rig. I watched a fifth wheeler spend two hours trying to position his rig so that it could be leveled. The store is friendly, but doesn’t stock much variety. Given the beauty of the area, I would go back, but I would insist on seeing the site before trying to set up. There is a wonderful country store (Lynne’s) close buy with great produce and meats. Be sure to check out the famous Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington.

This Campground has improved in last few years, nice bathrooms

Many of the very best sites are seasonal but there is still good sites on 1st come 1st choice basis make resv. On line at thousand trails staff is very good and helpful.

A little too close for my comfort.

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.

Rate it 5 stars very well maintained, has perfect waters to swim, boat,fish

Perfect clean clear water to fish,swim

Wonderful ArmyCOE Campground

One of my all time favorite campgrounds. Stunning water front sites if you're lucky enough to be able to book one. Stayed on top of hill one year, moved to waterfront after they had a couple of cancellations/no-shows. Close to Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and not far from Martinsville Va.

Nice cabins

Stayed here for Spring Break in 2015 and then agaIn In 2016. The entire campground was nice and well cared for. We stayed in one of the cabins. The location isn’t great, but it was a 45 minute drive to some great hiking locations to include McAfee Knob.

Family friendly and close to a lot of great hiking!

This site is close to the AT and blue ridge parkway and about an hour from Shenandoah Nat’l Park. Clean bathroom, spacious sites, very pretty creek. The sites are pretty open without much privacy.

Quiet, mossy green, sun dappled roomy sites

Very territorial deer, will stalk you on way to dumpster!

fun

Very close to natural bridge and caverns. The lake is very cold but fun. Sites are pretty private with half on a cute creek.

Older campground

This campground is older and not as well maintained as some of the other campgrounds on the parkway. The rv and tent pads are older cement and not as level. There are no showers but there are comfort stations. The creek is more like a stream so it becomes quite desolate once you get back in there .but good if you are looking to avoid a crowd.