Where to Go Camping in Virginia

Camping with a view
Camping with a view | Photo by Edho Fitrah on Unsplash
Nick Dauk

West Virginia may be known as The Mountain State, but Virginia more than holds its own when it comes to the great outdoors. Touching both the mountains and the beach, it has endless opportunities for camping and getting back to nature. When you’re not kayaking down the James River or snapping wildlife photos in the Shenandoah Valley, the cities of Old Dominion offer a mix of history and contemporary culture to rival anything in the southeast. Richmond’s food scene is renowned throughout the region, while the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, American Civil War Museum and The Poe Museum are all world-class attractions. Check out all of this, and more, when you pitch a tent at one of these top camping spots in Virginia, bookable with Culture Trip.

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Fort Valley

A young female hiker watches a deer cross the main park road in the mountains of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Fort Valley is deemed a valley within a valley, a scenic hideaway with roots dating back to the American Revolution. Today, the Fort Valley History Museum’s exhibits and restored historical buildings tell the story from George Washington’s days through the turn of the millennium. Tucked quietly beside the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park, camping near Fort Valley means you’re never far from a long walk in the woods.

Hills of the Angels

Bright-red fall foliage is reflected in the calm waters of Sherando Lake Recreation Area in the George Washington National Forest.

With 360-degree views of endless sky, the heavenly Hill of the Angels campsite offers more than 20 acres (8ha) of roughing it in style. This glamping experience includes tents, electrical outlets, a queen bed, additional seating, and other odds and ends that’ll put you right at ease. A hammock and ice chest are also available to rent if you really want a laid-back stay. Whenever you’re ready to slip from sandals into hiking boots, the George Washington National Forest is right next door.

Goshen

A calm river flows through woodland with red, green, yellow and orange foliage, in Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve, Virginia.

Earn your outdoor adventure badges when you stay in Goshen, home to one of the largest scouting camps in the country. Mill Creek flows into Calfpasture River, leading down to the hiking trails at the Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve and Wildlife Management Area. You’re not without your choice of trails, but there is a little walking route called the Appalachian Trail that perhaps you’re familiar with. Hop on any part of this iconic trail for a memorable experience.

Cold Sulphur Springs Site 3

Fellow travellers have been pitching a tent at this campsite since the 1800s. Hundreds of years later, Cold Sulphur Springs continues to provide simple hospitality. You’re welcome to bring an RV, though nights spent under a tent are just as lovely. Swim, boat, fish and absorb the rumored miraculous medicinal benefits of the water – or just practice your doggie paddle. Dry off by exploring the campsite and stumbling upon the historic Spring House that’s still intact.

Bear Creek Lake State Park

A picnic bench at Bear Creek Lake State Park sits next to a placid lake, sheltered by broadleaved trees and backlit by the rising sun.

Part of the larger Cumberland State Forest, Bear Creek Lake State Park is a family-friendly space where Richmond’s residents come to play. The state park is situated on a 40-acre (16ha) lake where swimming, fishing and boating will keep you plenty busy. Any kids in tow will love the playgrounds while the big kids can take aim on the archery range. Bear Creek State Park does have trails, but if you want to really stretch your legs, the Cumberland Multi-Trail can be explored on foot, mountain bike or even on horseback.

Shepherd’s Meadow

Do you count sheep to fall asleep? Then you’ll love pitching a tent on the Sweet Tree Hill Sheep Farm. As the Shetland sheep roam about their pastures, dozens of fish swim below the waters of the spring fed Shepherd’s Pond. Cook up lunch in the fully stocked camp kitchen then meander down to the pond to eat at the picnic table. You’re welcome to pass the time however you see fit, but if you need a little inspiration, a big box full of games, puzzles and playing cards will keep you busy until it’s time to start counting those sheep.

Wallops Island

Sunset view along a long sandy beach on Wallops Island, with a NASA rocket launch pad seen in the long grass just behind the shoreline.

Is it a shooting star or a rocket blasting off into the night? At Wallops Island, you may see both. This NASA site lights up the sky of the island on occasion. When the night sky isn’t welcoming a rocket, you’ll find that the stars and moonlight shine just as bright on Wallops Beach and the Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge. Across Tom’s Cove, you’ll find more sandy shoreline as well as more hiking trails on Chincoteague and Assateague Islands.

Creek Side

Privacy is provided in the secluded meadows and fields of the Creek Side campsite, but don’t be surprised if you hear the neighbors at night. This campsite is on Pony Pines Farm, an animal sanctuary that includes a working horse farm. Donkeys, horses, dogs and goats may send their regards as you’re cooking up dinner on the campfire grill. You can get a proper introduction to your four-legged hosts with a petting tour or horseback riding lesson on the beach.

Sweet Gum

Riding into Assawoman with your horses? Treat them to a camping trip at Pony Pines Farm. This horse farm and animal sanctuary is home to donkeys, goats, dogs and horses, though your campsite is afforded a generous amount of privacy. A canvas tent with a queen bed and two Adirondack chairs sits on a raised platform, giving you a comfortable place to watch your breakfast cook on the grill. When the ponies are getting a little antsy, take them over to Wallops Island for a gentle ride on the beach.

Leesburg

Late afternoon sunlight illuminates the white plumage of an American white ibis on the shore of Lake Harris in Leesburg.

Just outside of Washington D.C., the town of Leesburg once acted as the seat of the U.S. Government. Its importance in the War of 1812 and Civil War comes to life at the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield and Loudon Museum. For a more niche audience, Leesburg will put you on the trail of the only foxhunting museum in the world: The Museum of Hounds and Hunting. Mix history with hiking with a walk through the Ball’s Bluff Regional Park, Coton Bridge Trailhead and Rust Nature Sanctuary.

Nut Orchard Retreat

Wake up every morning staring across the meadow at the sun reflecting off of the Potomac River. A tent, toilet, shower and campfire grill will help you make yourself at home at Nut Orchard Retreat. Spending time on the communal deck by the river spotting wild turkeys and hawks is a fine way to spend the day, though you’re welcome to fill your schedule with seven miles of mountain biking trails. If you want to take a little piece of this retreat back home with you, your hosts will gladly send you packing with a jam jar of fresh cut flowers.

Potomac River View

With bald eagles waving to you from across the water, you may just extend your stay at this Potomac River View campsite. As you sit beside the limestone rocks along the riverside, the only thing that’ll draw you back to the campsite is the smell of breakfast. Ask your hosts for a dozen farm fresh eggs from their hens and fuel up for a day of hiking around the river. If you want to walk or bike a little farther, take the White’s Ferry over to the C&O Trail.

Spring Hill

Wooden boardwalk steps stairs hiking trail to Falls of Hills Creek waterfall in Monongahela national forest at Allegheny mountains, West Virginia

The small area of Spring Hill sits just across the Middle River from Staunton. Though Springhill Road connects the two, Spring Hill is immensely quieter and far less crowded, leaving campers plenty of opportunity to enjoy the absence of light and noise pollution. Look east and you’ll glimpse Shenandoah National Park; peer west and you’ll spot Monongahela National Forest. Anytime you need a reprieve from the silence and serenity, you can still get your fill of the outdoors with a visit to the open-air Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton.

Honeysuckle Hideaway

The Honeysuckle Hideaway is a sweet spot right on the Middle River. The campsite is secluded, despite being on a working farm only a few minutes from the breweries and wineries of Staunton. A camp stove, firewood, queen bed, lanterns and sun shower are just a few of the on-site amenities ready to greet you. Whether you choose to spend your nights sipping wine in Staunton or on the riverside, we’re pretty sure you’ll be spending your days wandering around the Shenandoah Valley’s wondrous woods.

Skipping Rock

Two men in lifejackets kayak together along the Middle River, near Skipping Rock campsite, Virginia.

Naturally, a quiet spot on the Middle River is the perfect place to skip rocks. The Skipping Rock campsite is also prime for fishing, kayaking or simply watching the water roll by from the comfort of your secluded canvas tent. There’s a second campsite, the Honeysuckle Hideaway, which can easily accommodate your friends or extended family without being right on top of one another. Don’t be surprised if you hear a moo when heading to the loo; this campsite is on a working farm. Take your bike along the quiet farm roads and lose count of too many breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley.

Beaverdam

A cyclist on a black bike rides along a woodland trail near Skipping Rock campsite, Virginia.

The small community of Beaverdam is surrounded by streams, creeks and swamps – no doubt home to its namesake critter. The historic Beaver Dam Depot hosts Civil War reenactments and Pop’s Country Store Museum boasts antiques nearly the same age. Just as close to the Potomac as Richmond, Beaverdam grants easy access to hiking and biking trails at Prince William Forest Park, Lake Anna State Park and Shenandoah National Park in less than two hours.

Sunset on the Pond

An American Bald Eagle sits on the branch of a pine tree in Virginia.

Settle in for a front row seat for nature viewing at Sunset on the Pond campsite. Bald eagles, hawks, ducks, geese and plenty of other birds will fly by above the otters and beavers that call the pond home. Before settling into your campsite, which includes everything from a canvas tent and queen bed to a camp loo and campfire grill too, politely explore this working farm and sign up for a tour whilst you’re at it.

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