Katie M.
Chesapeake , VA
Joined June 2019
Awesome beach camping!

A great National Park Service Campground! If you are lucky you can get a site with private access to the beach. You can't reserve a specific site online so you have to choose it when you get there. We camped here in October, so we had tons to choose from! 

The campsite was multi-tiered with a flat grassy area with a picnic table at the bottom, a path to another flat sandy area where we put our tent, and then a path over the dune to the beach. The bathrooms have cold showers and are pretty basic. No fires at this campground but you can have a fire in the grill.

Ocracoke is such a special place with lots of fun things to do and see in town or just spend the whole time at the beach!

Pretty close to perfect

We had a wonderful first camping trip of 2019 at Frisco NPS campground. The perks to camping here in April would be: less bugs and less people! And it's not too hot. The beach is so beautiful. Our campsite 59 had an amazing view of the beach and campground, though it was too far away to walk to the beach. 

There are little cactuses everywhere so be careful!

Beware of ticks in the summer

We were pleasantly surprised how nice this campground is. It's nice and wooded and very pretty! We had to get an electric site even though we are tent campers but there weren't too many RV's around. But I have to say this campground is literally crawling with ticks. They were everywhere, all over the tent, chairs, and all our other equipment. I've never seen so many in my life. So be prepared!

Great hiking here! And a fabulous playground for the kids!

Ok campground, but lots to do!

The campground at Northwest River Park is small and pretty basic. For a tent camper that is used to wooded, private sites these leave much to be desired. There is not much privacy. The campground was full the night we stayed there and very busy and noisy through the night. We stayed on a Memorial Day weekend though so maybe it is not typically like that. All night our young children were woken up by the noise from the nearby RV's AC units. 

What this park lacks in it's campground, it makes up for in it's recreational activities! There is a putt-putt course! Canoeing! Tons of hiking trails! Multiple playgrounds! Lots of wide open space for kids to run and play! Fishing! This is an excellent park for kids and families to come for the day! 

Overall not a horrible experience but this is the closest campground to our house and we have not felt the need to come back and stay overnight. Maybe would be better for camping mid-week when it's not so busy.

Another great trip to Sherando Lake!

We had another great trip to Sherando Lake! This is our 4th year camping here and we always look forward to the trip. This year the weather was cooler than it usually is, so we got to enjoy some of the other aspects of the park since it was too cold to swim. We love the hiking here! The trails around the Upper Lake and Lower Lake are favorites. Lookout Rock and Torry Ridge Trails are fun too! The kids enjoyed playing on the playground, skipping rocks, and fishing as well.

The campsites are clean and well kept up. The site we usually get (A-13) is well situated near the bathrooms and showers. Campsite A-12 makes a great buddy site! Such a family-friendly campground.

Coming in the middle of the week is the best time if you like to have peace and quiet and the place all to yourself. Can't wait till next year!

Early Fall Camping at Kiptopeake is awesome!

We love this campground and have been all months of the summer, but this was the first time camping here after Labor Day and I think it might be my most favorite time of all!

Kiptopeake is a very popular park for good reason and therefore the campground and beaches are usually pretty crowded. We came here the last weekend of September and it was awesome! There was a much chiller vibe, the beaches were not crowded at all! We watched a beautiful sunset on the beach with maybe 6 other people there.

We chose to reserve a non-specific tent site and when we got there late on a Friday night had most of the site in loop D to pick from, so we got a great one! Site D-13 was close to the bathrooms and amenities. Nighttime was nice and quiet!

The slightly cooler and less humid weather made tent camping much better than mid-summer sweatfest, but the water is still warm enough to swim. Highly recommend coming here in the Fall!

Beautiful Bear Creek Lake!

We had a fun camping trip at Bear Creek Lake! We chose a reservable waterview site (#18) and I'm glad we got the one we did! It is not directly on the water, there is a fence around the site and then a short walk to the water. I'm glad we had the beautiful view of the lake while camping, but didn't have to stress about the kids getting in the water the whole time. Note that there is a hiking trail and fishing spot right behind the fence, so people were walking by all the time, but it wasn't too disruptive. The bathrooms are about a 2 minute walk from the site. There is a shortcut through the woods across the street. 

There is a great swimming area with a little kids area that was so fun! We did a hike around the whole lake, lots of great views. Looks like it would be awesome for fishing as well!

Just worth a mention that my kids came back with poison ivy everywhere, so watch out for that!

Ranger Review: Banner & Oak Hat at Fairy Stone State Park

Campground Review:

We stayed in Yurt#4 for 2 nights at Fairy Stone State Park, about a 4 hour drive from where we live. The Yurt overall was very clean and cozy. The outside of the Yurt looks like it needed a powerwashing, but that didn’t really affect us at all, just kind of unsightly. They have a nice large deck that is great for hanging out on while the kids were asleep. The inside of the Yurt has a full size bed with a twin sized trundle bed that rolls under the full. It also had some rocking chairs inside, a small table and chairs, and a couch. We ended up eating and hanging out inside the Yurt or on the deck most of the time. 

There are 4 Yurts to choose from. Two of them (Yurts#1 & 2) do not have a parking spot right in front of them, they are a short walk from a parking area, so I made sure to get one that did since we would be arriving after dark. The Yurt we stayed in was a little weird because the Fire Pit and Picnic table is behind and almost under the yurt, down a decently step slope and the yurt sits on stilts on the back side. The Yurt next to us#3 had the fire pit and table right up front next to the parking spot which would be better I think. I would try to get Yurt#3 next time! Overall Yurt camping is so fun! We have done it once before, and it is such a great mix between cabin and tent camping. You get the protection from the elements, a real bed to sleep in, and it’s quick to pack-up- but still a bit rustic since there’s no ac or electricity. 

There are hiking trails right across the street from the Yurt, which was awesome! The bathrooms and showers were fine and in close walking distance. They could probably use some updating but didn’t have any major issues with them. Overall the campground is pretty big and a bit of a maze getting around, we needed to use the park map a lot! Probably due to the park being so old there are a lot of old buildings not in use that are pretty cool. 

The park is big and there is lots to do! There is a beautiful lake for swimming Tons of hiking trails. They had a great playground for the kids nearby. They had a concert going on somewhere at the park so we had some beautiful orchestral music playing as we were winding down for bed one night. We saw lots of deer roaming around. Note that there is not great cell service in this area. 

The place to find the Fairy Stones are outside of the park, down the street a little bit beside a gas station. It was tricky knowing exactly what to look for, but once we found a few Fairy Stones, they were everywhere! So fun searching for them with the kids! 

It was such a fun trip, very peaceful, beautiful scenery everywhere!

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Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - we tested out the Banner& Oak Men’s Nebo Hat– Olive  

The quality of this hat is great. Nice and thick but breathable fabric, durable construction. We’ve put this hat through the ringer so far with sweaty hikes, long beach and lake days, and everyday wear and tear and it has performed spectacularly. The adjustable snapback makes fitting easy. Has a nice shape, looks great! Love this hat’s patch with well-designed graphics and the neutral olive color– goes with everything. Will definitely purchase again! Also appreciate the fact that the hats are made in the USA! It is my husband’s new go-to daily hat and I think it will last for a long time.

Peace and quiet!

This is a great campground! It is about a mile hike-in. They have wheelbarrows you can borrow to help bring in your stuff from the car. There are pit toilets and non potable water available as well as firewood when you get to the campground. The campsites are pretty secluded and spaced out so you have some privacy. It is so peaceful and quiet! Lots of great hiking to do in the area. When we were there they were having a historical reenactment near the visitors center that was so cool! We came in August and it was super hot, but that is just Virginia. Lots of friendly staff and campers there.

Great yurt camping!

This was our first time staying in a yurt and we loved it! 

Its like tent camping except you get to sleep in a bed. We stayed in September so the fact that there is no AC or electricity in the yurt was not an issue because the weather was moderate. Yurt 1 is a bit of a walk to the bathrooms, that is the only negative thing I can think of. The beds were comfortable. You have to bring your own sheets and pillows.  There is also a small table and chairs inside the yurt. Loved that there was no tent to pack up when it was time to leave! There  was a fire ring and picnic table outside as well as a large deck around the yurt with two rocking chairs. Driving around the campground, there are some fantastic waterfront sites in the same loop as the yurts that we'd love to come back and stay at! They have great views of Buggs Island Lake.

We did some hiking while we were there but there are not a ton of trails. We spent most of our free time at the splash pad. The kids loved that! 

Overall this is a great little park! I only gave it 4 stars because there's not a ton to do.

Royal Oak Campground - Lots of fun!

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!

Excellent camping and beautiful beach!

Have you ever wanted to go to a beach where the water is calm, clear, warm and shallow? With hardly any people there? Kiptopeake is the beach for you! Located on the bay there aren't huge waves to worry about or big beach crowds. Kiptopeake is my favorite Virginia State Park campground, hands down. 

Camping:

If you are a primitive tent camper like us, you'll want to get the site-specific sites. They are more secluded, bigger, and walkable to the beach. The sites in the site-specific loop are conveniently located to the bathrooms which have nice hot showers! Each site has a pretty standard picnic table and fire ring with enough room for two tents. Our site didn't have tons of room for two cars though, we had to squeeze in to our space awkwardly. We've been here in pretty much all months of the spring, summer and fall and have never had a problem with mosquitoes or biting flies.

To Do:

The beach at Kiptopeake is so beautiful! Most of the time we post up and spend all day there. I highly recommend watching the sunset from the beach. Check out the concrete fleet on a kayak. There's some great hiking, butterfly garden, bird watching. Virginia State Parks has some great programs for the kids as well! The town of Cape Charles nearby is very charming and worth a visit for cute shops and restaurants. 

Highly recommend this park! It is a really special place you'll want to keep coming back to!

So much fun!

Pocahontas is one of the funner State Park campgrounds we've been to. The campsites are great, nice and flat, with a fire ring and picnic table. There are a lot of RV's here, which is a negative for us. Our site was not very private, but it did have electricity and was close to the bathrooms. Not a ton of bugs, great weather. The best part is if you are camping here you get free entry to the Water Park! Which is super fun, the kids love it. There's a splash pad and a water slide and a couple regular pools. It wasn't too busy in the middle of June. Also great hiking here! Love the location is close to Richmond, so there is fun things to do there as well.

Solid campground, amazing park!

Westmoreland State Park is a gorgeous park with amazing views of the Potomac River. The camping is pretty good too! The sites we have stayed at have all been super clean and close to bathrooms and water. They include a fire ring, picnic table and a hook for your trash. The bathrooms are clean and have hot showers. The site specific campsites are definitely better than the unspecified ones. A24 was a good campsite, very unique in terrain. You walk down a set of stairs from your car to the site. There's a 2 foot drop off the side of the campsite making it seem like your on the edge of the world, very cool!

Beautiful views! Amazing hiking! Go to NN Burger, if you need to leave the campground it is close by, yum!

A really special place

Sherando Lake Campground is a place that we make a point to go every summer, even though it is almost a 5-hour dive from where we live. We always get campsite A13, which is right across from the bathrooms. Very convenient with kids. The site is pretty secluded with trees, so you can't see your neighbors. The campground itself is very well maintained and clean. Decent, hot showers. The campsites are equipped with bear boxes, a picnic table, a tall prep table, and a fire ring. It’s a sandy dirt surface to put your tent on. The lake is beautiful! It’s a decent walk from the campground but we usually walk down in the morning and spend all day there. There is great hiking! Beautiful views everywhere. Friendly people. They have activities during the summer like outdoor movies and live music. And a town not too far away with a Target for emergencies. Lots of awesome restaurants, breweries, and outdoorsy things to do nearby. We just love this place and will keep coming back!

Absolutley worth the hike!

We’ve lived so close to this park for so long and I regret not coming sooner. This park is 5+ miles from the Little Island Park Parking lot, where you have to park if you’re staying overnight. So, you have to hike, bike or boat into the primitive campground because its access is blocked by Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. But because of this, the Park is a serene oasis away from traffic, no RV’s, not a lot of people. A great place to get away from it all! We hiked in on the East Dike trail through Back Bay, about 5.4 miles, with everything for the weekend on our backs. The trail is a rock/gravel road, probably more suited to bikes as it was pretty hard on our feet. But beautiful views of Back Bay on the way to the Park. Once we made it to the park, we stopped in the Visitors Center, which sells cold drinks, is air conditioned, has clean full-service bathrooms and friendly attendants who answered all our questions we had about the camping. From the Visitors Center, it’s about another .5 or so of a soft sandy hike to the Oceanside Barbour Hill campground, where we stayed. Our campsite was #12 and the attendant told us it was one of the new sites this year. It was close to the pit toilet bathrooms, drinking water faucet, and outdoor shower. The campsite was very secluded, you can’t see it from the main road, it’s tucked back in the live oaks. Site #13 is close by, would make a great buddy site. The campsite has a picnic table and a hook to hang your food and trash at night. Fires are not allowed but small camping stoves are, so we brought a little pocket rocket butane stove to cook on. What we didn’t know when we made reservations here is that you actually have two sites to choose from at this campground. There is the #12 in the live oaks site and then is you walk a short distance to the Beach, you have a designated #12 spot on the beach that you can choose to camp at as well! It was awesome! We ended up doing most of the cooking and eating at the live oaks site and sleeping and hanging out at the beach since there is no picnic table or anything at the beach site. Such an amazing experience to wake up to the sun rising over the Atlantic ocean and sleeping under the stars. There were only two other tents camped out on the beach with us when we were there so it was still pretty isolated. If you want to be on the beach by yourself, just walk less than a mile down either way and there is not a soul. There’s tons of hiking, interesting things to see, beautiful nature. We saw dolphins playing in the ocean! The beach alive with crabs! Osprey catching fish! We saw an old graveyard and church steeple at Wash Woods, that’s definitely worth the hike. We walked to the North Carolina border. There’s a Loveworks and a buoy that marks the southernmost Virginia State Park. We hiked over 30 miles over the weekend, there so much to do, we are exhausted! We came in mid-June and the weather was gorgeous - 80s during the day and 60s at night. There were some biting flies and mosquitos but nothing a little bug spray couldn’t take care of. We did not see any snakes. At the end of our trip, we opted to hike back to Little Island on the beach through Back Bay. It was slightly shorter, 5.1 miles, but a tougher hike because of the sand. We came home exhausted, sunburnt, blisters, but just in awe of this amazing park. It’s definitely worth the hike!

So much to do and see!

Blackwater Falls State Park has been on my list for a while. We finally made the trip last weekend and had a blast! The tent campground non-electric sites were ok. They had a picnic table and a fire ring, the site was pretty level. Our site #37 was near the bathroom which was a plus with kids but did not have a lot of privacy. People were walking right through our site to get to the bathrooms, so weird! It was pretty out in the open with not sparse trees around but I did see some sites that were more secluded. Next time I would choose one of those. The bathrooms were clean, a bit outdated. The staff were very friendly and helpful. The campground was pretty full but didn’t seem crowded or noisy. Overall it was a pleasant experience, we were off doing stuff most of the time so we didn’t spend a lot of time at the campsite. There’s so much to do at this park! Multiple waterfalls, awesome hikes, a lake, a nature center for the kids, a petting zoo… the nearby towns of Davis and Thomas are very cute too with great coffee and food options. (Tip Top Coffee! Hellbender Burritos!) Highly recommend the park! Next time we’re here I’ll try to find a better site.