Why RVers Love Virginia State Parks

Apr 22, 2022 | Best Campgrounds, Campgrounds

Why RVers Love Virginia State Parks

By Erin Gifford

Virginia’s state park system truly has something for everyone, thanks to its 41 state parks, including 23 with campgrounds that accommodate RVs of various sizes. With more than 1,800 campsites across all the parks, whether you’re looking for big mountain views, sandy beaches, swimming pools, or pristine lakes, you’ll find it in Virginia. 

The Virginia State Parks website makes it easy to find the perfect park for you. You can search by amenities such as boat rentals, equestrian trails, swimming beaches, fishing piers, and kayak launches. You can also search for state parks within 10 geographic regions. 

Stand-Out Features of Virginia State Parks

There’s plenty to love about the Virginia State Park system, most notably the Trail Quest program, which rewards visitors with pins for park visits. Visitors who see every state park (no need to hike at every one) receive a pin and a Master Hiker certificate of completion. 

All state parks offer a variety of ranger-led programs, from guided nature hikes to outdoor crafts and park clean-up activities. Virginia is also home to four state parks that have been recognized as International Dark Sky Parks: Staunton River, James River, Natural Bridge, and Sky Meadows, all of which hold regular stargazing events in conjunction with area astronomy clubs. 

More than half the state parks provide printable activity sheets and trail maps, self-guided hikes, scavenger hunts, stargazing guides, and Junior Ranger activity booklets. A printable sensory scavenger hunt can be used at all state parks. 

How to Make a Reservation at Virginia State Parks

Reservations can be made online up to 11 months in advance, by selecting the park, your travel dates, camping equipment (including motorhome, pop-up trailer, or tent), and trailer length. You can also call 1-800-933-7275 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Payment is due at the time of reservation, and a confirmation will be sent to your email. 

Campsite reservations can be made up to 2 p.m. on the day of arrival and can be canceled up until the day before your arrival (a $10 cancellation fee will be deducted from your returned payment). There is no fee to transfer your reservation to a later date or to another state park. 

Lake surrounded by a forest area with fall colors at Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia.
Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia.

Virginia State Parks also offer a free customer loyalty program. Campers earn 20 points for every dollar spent on overnight stays at state parks. Points may be used toward discounts on future stays or an annual state park pass, and unused points expire after 5 years. 

Full-service campgrounds are open from the first Friday in March through the first Monday in December. Exceptions include Douthat, Hungry Mother, Pocahontas, and Shenandoah River, which are open year-round. 

What to Expect RV Camping at Virginia State Parks

The fee for campsites with electric and water hookups ranges from $35 to $40 per night for Virginia residents. Non-residents add $5 to $7 per night, depending on the park. Only two state parks have campsites that offer sewer hookups: Hungry Mother and Kiptopeke

Virginia State Parks offers an annual pass called the Naturally Yours Passport, which includes parking and admission to all state parks. A senior Naturally Yours Passport is available at a reduced rate to residents aged 62 and up, and free passports are available to those with disabilities.

Pets are allowed at all state parks in Virginia at no additional charge (except for cabin stays). However, pets are prohibited from public beaches and must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet. While not required, it’s suggested that you bring a copy of proof of rabies vaccination status.

For all park campsites, check-in time is 4 p.m. and check-out is 1 p.m. You may stay 14 nights in a 30-day period at any given park. A list of rules and regulations is available on the park’s website. 

The Best Virginia State Parks for RVers 

It’s tough to narrow down state parks to just a handful of favorites, but here are five that top the list for RVers in Virginia. 

Waterway with a dam at Pocahontas State Park in Virginia
Pocahontas State Park campground. | Photo by: Liz & Jake

Pocahontas State Park is a favorite thanks to its large, shaded campsites. Less than 30 minutes south of Richmond, you’ll find miles of trails that criss-cross Virginia’s largest state park. You can also rent pedal boats, paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes to take out on Swift Creek Lake. 

Occoneechee State Park is located on Kerr Lake (also called Buggs Island Lake), the largest freshwater reservoir in Virginia. This park in Southern Virginia boasts plenty of hiking, biking, and horse trails, as well as lakeside campsites, boat rentals, and a popular splash park for kids. 

In Southwest Virginia, leafy campsites welcome RVers at Grayson Highlands State Park, which is known for free-roaming wild ponies that can be seen along the Appalachian Trail. Easy hikes reward views from two of Virginia’s tallest peaks: Big Pinnacle and Little Pinnacle. 

A man fly fishing on the Shenandoah River State Park.
Shenandoah River State Park. | Photo by: khall

Just 90 minutes west of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah River State Park is popular among RVers thanks to its location along the Shenandoah River. There are numerous hiking and biking trails at this year-round campground, which is also a stone’s throw from Shenandoah National Park. 

Boardwalk on a beach in Virginia at First Landing State Park
First Landing State Park. | Photo by: WatsonsWander

In Virginia Beach, First Landing State Park is loved by RVers thanks to shaded campsites that are a short walk from a swimming beach on the Chesapeake Bay. The park also has hiking and biking trails, as well as a boat launch at Broad Bay.