If this campground is convenient - and given that it's open through October and <60 minutes from DC it might well be - this campground is good to go. But without that convenience factor I would not rate this site as worth visiting.
The loop is very small, with all the sites pretty close together. The forest behind the site was sparse, enough so that it was hard to find fuel for the fire and we were basically part of the youth group activities happening. From 8am to 4pm I learned A LOT about what number to dial in case of emergency.
The site itself was very small - difficult to get 2 cars and two tents in - and the fire ring was smaller as well. Though it was cleaner than the average state park site.
We stayed in site 21, which was fine enough except for its proximity to the nearest pavilion and all the small children screaming "stop drop and roll" at the top of their lungs.
But at the end of the day it was $20 (with a $6 booking fee) and for better or worse we never interacted with a single park ranger or camp host. The upside is we could do what we wanted, the downside is there wasn't a sense of community, or regulation.
I'll say I have never been to a site where the firewood is padlocked, and you have to call someone to come unlock it so you can buy firewood. In fact I'm downgrading the review from 3 stars to 2 as I write this - there really weren't many positives about this campground other than that camping is a terrific hobby.
Important to note that the primitive sites are walk-in only - but the walk is very short.
Primitive sites do not take reservations, so you select your own based on availability when you arrive. If you can get **site 5** that is crucial. The other sites still looked good, but site 5 is large, nicely laid out, and RIGHT on the water. No steps down, but a brilliant view.
The park in general is nice, and while not as grandiose as Shenandoah proper it is less expensive and loss populated. For $25 a had perfect quiet and I will definitely go back.
The grounds are nice, and the sites pretty well taken care of. They are fairly close together, but he had a site (site #193 in Gum Loop) that was against a hill and had enough greenery for us. But, atop that big hill, we could see another loop of sites above us so seclusion is at a minimum.
There are sites by the lake, but they are reserved many months in advance.
The check-in process was superlative - they had two windows open, and moved us right through.
Here's the thing: the lake is beautiful, and we kayaked around it and it was wonderful. But along with that comes the golf course, and the amphitheater, and the activities which for my tastes is too much.
Admittedly our trip may have been subjected to more noise than most because there was a concert at the amphitheater - but it our site wasn't anywhere close to the concert, and still it was mid 90s hip-hop just reverberating throughout the grounds.
A good park, with a lovely lake, but I won't be returning due to the mixed company and mixed use.
Having camped here in late Winter, our experience may be a bit biased; the campgrounds were empty and a gentle snow made an already peaceful setting positively serene.
Still, I have to give 5 stars. There are other activities hosted in this park, but our tent site (pic attached) was very much segregated from the main area and IMMEDIATELY on the water. It felt like we could have paid several hundred a night for lodging right on a charming little river.
I can't wait for an excuse to go back.
Only reason for 4 and not 5 stars is the proximity of the sites to one another … but if you can get good neighbors, no neighbors, or the right site, this park is a perfect escape. We had a terrific time; lots of green canopy kept us cool in the summertime.
Walking the grounds and visiting the camp host to buy firewood (fill up the crates and be sure to add some extra) was extremely pleasant, and to date I think this was the cleanest (no trash on the ground) site I've visited.
You can hear the din of traffic (after all, route 40 is right there) but considering your proximity to Walmarts and Subways, aside from that noise you might forget how close you are to civilization. Relatively dense vegetation and hills offer you that simulation of escape.
First off, this park is extremely convenient to get to. So considering that convenience, the downsides may be a worthy trade-off … it's still trees and trails and wonderful. For example, this site was an excellent meeting place for me and a friend coming from DC and Baltimore - right between us, and just off the highway.
Some very nice stretches of trails, and were empty as I saw them. Though they do cross over major roads.
Site host and ranger came by - and were very nice - though all things considered I like parks when you don't really see anyone.
Sites offer almost no seclusion or oneness with nature. I believe we got the most secluded site (site 16, and thank you to the other reviewer for the heads up) but still very exposed to neighbors and roads.
The sites are very spread out, and not very consistent in size/quality. We were able to nab site 112 and it was fantastic: lots of space, and privacy too. It was next to a road, but one with very little traffic. However, we drove past some sites that looked sad and offering no seclusion.
Personally I think the seclusion is well worth the price, but it's worth mentioning that to get potable water we had to drive ~20 minutes. Same deal as far as the for-better-or-worse, but we had no cell service at all for most of the area.
Finally, the Cornucopia Café just outside the park is A MUST VISIT. Inventive menu, friendly staff, outdoor seating, we were pleasantly surprised and will return.