Virginia is full of beautiful nature just waiting to be explored by both local state residents and out-of-state visitors. With the coastline, numerous mountains, and especially the famous and scenic Blue Ridge Parkway running through the state, it’s no wonder that Virginia is home to many different state parks, national parks, nation monuments, historical and military parks, and a national seashore.
1.Bear Creek Lake State Park
The Bear Creek Lake State Park is an ideal getaway for outdoor enthusiasts, nestled within the very heart of central Virginia’s Cumberland State Forest, not even an hour away from the city of Richmond. The park is home to an activities center at the forty-acre Bear Creek Lake that includes a beach for swimming, boat rentals, a fishing piers, and a boat launch. Other features of the state park include playgrounds, an archery range, picnic areas, campsites, cabins, and a meeting facility. Visitors will also find a number of trails and access to the Cumberland State Forest.
22 Bear Creek Lake Rd, Cumberland, VA 23040, Phone: 804-492-4410
2.Belle Isle State Park
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The Belle Isle State Park boasts seven miles along the shore of the Rappahannock River and offers access to Deep Creek and Mulberry Creek. This state park allows visitors to discover a broad array of tidal wetlands that are interspersed with upland forests and farmland. Belle Isle consists of three picnic shelters, a campground, car-top launches, motor boat launches, and bridle, biking and hiking trails. Overnight lodging is also available at Bel Air and at the Bel Air Guest House. Kayak, canoe, and bicycle rentals are offered as well. Visitors can enjoy the fishing pier, boardwalk, and playground.
1632 Belle Isle Rd, Lancaster, VA 22503, Phone: 804-462-5030
3.Claytor Lake State Park
The Claytor Lake State Park is an ideal state park for having a picnic, going for a hike, camping, and swimming. The park is also well known in the state for boating and sport fishing. Claytor Lake features a full-service marina that offers refreshments, boat rentals, fuel, supplies, and docking slips. Fifteen cabins and three lodges in the Claytor Lake state Park overlook the park’s lake that encompasses approximately 4,500 acres, providing a scenic retreat for visitors. The park also includes playgrounds, picnic shelters, a fishing pier, and the Howe House with interactive exhibits that describe the lake’s ecology.
6620 Ben H. Bolen Dr, Dublin, VA 24084, Phone: 540-643-2500
4.Douthat State Park
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The Douthat State Park has been a traditional state park for families since the year 1936 and is listed on the country’s National Register of Historic Places due to the role the design of the park has played in the development of other parks throughout the nation. Douthat offers a variety of outdoor activities within some of the most stunning mountain scenery in the state. Visitors will find a lake full of trout, stream fishing, cabins, a camp store, a gift shop, boat rentals, a snack bar, a swimming beach, and over forty-three miles of bridle, mountain biking, and hiking trails.
14239 Douthat State Park Rd, Millboro, VA 24460, Phone: 540-862-8100
5.Fairy Stone State Park
The Fairy Stone State Park is the site of the state of Virginia’s legendary fairy stones and is also well known for the 168-acre lake adjoining to the Philpott Reservoir. Only minutes away from the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, the state park includes picnic areas, kayaks, paddle boats, canoes, rowboats, hiking trails, a conference center, an equestrian campground, campsites for groups, a campground, and cabins. Swimming in the lake is also a popular activity among visitors and children can play on the two playgrounds, one of which is situated in the water. The Fairy Stone State Park is approximately 4,741 acres.
967 Fairystone Lake Dr, Stuart, VA 24171, Phone: 276-930-2424
6.First Landing State Park
The First Landing State Park is one of Virginia’s most visited state park, providing an oasis within the urban area of Virginia Beach. This park features a trail network spanning twenty miles, as well as about one and a half miles of sandy beachfront along the Chesapeake Bay. First Landing State Park provides both educational and recreational activities and contains a number of unusual habitats, such as maritime forest, lagoons, and bald cypress swamps, along with rare wildlife and plants. The campground includes electric and water hook-up campsites, cabins, a camp store, boat ramps, and picnic areas.
2500 Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, Phone: 757-412-2300
7.Grayson Highlands State Park
The Grayson Highlands State Park offers spectacular scenic views of the state’s alpine-like peaks over five thousand feet high. Located near the two highest mountains in the state of Virginia, Whitetop Mountain and Mount Rogers, Grayson Highlands includes a number of hiking trails that guide visitors to overlooks and waterfalls, campgrounds, and a visitor center. The state park also contains scenic horse trails, as well as a camping area for guests with horses that features water and electric hook-ups, parking for trailers, and stables. There is also access to the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
829 Grayson Highland Ln, Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363, Phone: 276-579-7092
8.High Bridge Trail State Park
The High Bridge Trail State Park is home to the High Bridge Trail, a 31-mile long trail that is suited ideally for horseback riding, bicycling, and hiking. Formerly a rail bed, the High Bridge Trail is generally flat, level, and wide. The dimensions and finely crushed limestone surface make the trail an easy one for visitors to enjoy. The centerpiece of the High Bridge Trail State Park is its grand High Bridge, over 2,400 feet in length, sitting at approximately 125 feet above the river. It is the state’s longest recreation bridge, and one of the longest in the country.
6888 Green Bay Rd, Green Bay, VA 23942, Phone: 434-315-0457
9.Hungry Mother State Park
The Hungry Mother State Park has long been a family favorite of Virginia’s state parks, well known for its 108-acre placid lake and beautiful woodlands in the center of the mountains. The park includes a sandy beach good for having fun in the sun, along with a universally accessible fishing pier, a boat launch, a bath hours, and boat rentals, including paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, and fishing boats. There are also cabins, campgrounds, a visitor center, a lodge able to accommodate up to fifteen people, the Hemlock Haven Conference Center, a restaurant, gift shops, biking trails, and hiking trails.
2854 Park Blvd., Marion, VA 24354; Phone: 276-781-7400
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10.James River State Park
The James River State Park is located within the foothills of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, featuring stunning views, quiet forests, and rolling grasslands, along with a three-mile stretch of the shore of the James River. Outdoor recreation opportunities abound within the James River State Park, such as tent camping at the Branch Pond or along the historic river banks, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and hiking. There is also a visitor center, a camp store, cabins, equestrian camping, electric and water campgrounds, multi-use trails, picnic shelters, a natural playground, a gift shop, and a universally accessible fishing pier.
104 Green Hill Dr, Gladstone, VA 24553, Phone: 434-933-4355
11.Mason Neck State Park
The Mason Neck State Park is only a short driving distance from Washington, DC, offering several outdoor programs and activities near the nation’s capital. There hiking trails, a large area for picnicking, a visitor center, three miles of multi-use paved trails, a car-top canoe launch, and a playground. Bicycle, kayak, and canoe rentals are available in the state park as well. Some of the more popular activities at Mason Neck include guided canoe trips along the Belmont Bay and Kane’s Creek and bird watching, particularly for American Bald Eagles. The open fields, ponds, wetlands, and more make for good wildlife observation.
7301 High Point Rd, Lorton, VA 22079, Phone: 703-339-2385
12.Natural Bridge State Park
The Natural Bridge of the Natural Bridge State Park was formerly owned by Thomas Jefferson and is now included on the National Register of Historic Places. The Natural Bridge stands at approximately two hundred and fifteen feet high and is a natural limestone gorge carved out of the earth by the Cedar Creek. The state park is one of the newer ones of the state of Virginia, with rolling meadows, beautiful forests, mountain vistas, and views of the James River valley, all showcasing the natural splendor of the area’s terrain. The park also contains six miles of trails for hiking.
6477 South Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578, Phone: 540-291-1326
13.Occoneechee State Park
The Occoneechee State Park gets its name from the Native American people who once lived in the area for several hundred years. The state park is situated on the John H. Kerr Reservoir, or also referred to as the Buggs Island Lake, and is a popular destination for boaters and anglers. Facilities in the park include boat ramps, a playground, amphitheater, several picnic shelters, an equestrian campground, campsites, cabins, and a private concession area providing snacks and boat rentals. There are twenty miles of trails ideal for horseback riding, biking, and hiking throughout the Occoneechee State Park as well.
1192 Occoneechee Park Rd, Clarksville, VA 23927, Phone: 434-374-2210
14.Pocahontas State Park
The Pocahontas State Park is located only around twenty miles from the city of Richmond, Virginia and provides visitors with opportunities for camping, hiking, picnicking, boating, and more. The park offers history programs, nature programs, more than sixty-four miles of trails, and cabins for camping. There is also an Aquatic Center, housing two tube water slides, five-foot and three-foot leisure pools, a fountain wet deck, and a pool for toddlers. An abundance of fishing can be found across the three lakes in the Pocahontas State Park, and boat rentals at Swift Creek Lake, which spans 225 acres.
10301 State Park Rd, Chesterfield, VA 23832, Phone: 804-796-4255
15.Powhatan State Park
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The Powhatan State Park is situated within the northwest corner of the state of Virginia’s Powhatan County along the banks of the historic James River. This state park features three different car-top boat slides that provide access to the river, in addition to a full-service campground, a campground for groups, a canoe-in primitive campground, a playground, picnic shelters, areas for wildlife observation, and several multi-use trails. The Powhatan State Park is home to a diverse wildlife habitat, such as upland hardwood forests and open fields. The park is open from dawn until dusk and is approximately 1,565 acres.
4616 Powhatan State Park Rd, Powhatan, VA 23139, Phone: 804-598-7148
16.Shenandoah River State Park
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The Shenandoah River State Park is located along a 5.2-mile stretch of the shoreline of the South Fork of Virginia’s Shenandoah River and consists of over 1,600 acres. Established in 1999, the park provides visitors with scenic views to the east of the Shenandoah National Park and to the west, views of the Massanutten Mountain, along with its winding river frontage. Shenandoah River State Park contains a large picnic area on the river, picnic shelters, river access, a campground, riverfront campsites, a zipline, and several trails. The car-top boat launch makes the park popular with canoeists, anglers, and families.
350 Daughter of Stars Dr, Bentonville, VA 22610, Phone: 540-622-6840
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17.Westmoreland State Park
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The Westmoreland State Park sits at the Northern Neck of the Potomac River and offers visitors numerous opportunities for fun among family and friends. The park is part of the National Register of Historic Places and features a visitor center, a six-mile trail network, boat rentals, a fishing pier, a playground, cabins, campgrounds, a power-boat ramp, a camp store, a snack bar, a meeting area, and an Olympic-size pool with an adjacent bathhouse. Guests who enjoy collecting fossils can search for ancient shark teeth along the banks of the Potomac River, while offshore breakwaters offer great opportunities for fishing.
145 Cliff Road, Montross, VA 22520, Phone: 804-493-8821
Assateague Island is a national seashore that is recreated daily by the ocean waves and winds. LIfe on the island has long adapted to more of an existence that’s alway on the move. There are coastal bays, maritime forests, salt marshes, and sandy beach just waiting to be explored. Activities possible on Assateague Island include surfing, swimming, surf fishing, shell collecting, over-sand vehicle driving, kayaking, canoeing, biking, horseback riding, camping, and shellfishing, such as clamming and crabbing. Camping is possible on the island, but campers are advised to plan ahead, as the habitat of the barrier island can sometimes be harsh.
7206 National Seashore Ln, Berlin, MD 21811, Phone: 410-641-1441
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19.Cape Henry Memorial
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The windswept sands at Cape Henry Memorial are the site of both the start and end of what is referred to as British America. This memorial marks the spot where English colonists landed first in April of 1607, where they placed a wooden cross after their successful crossing of the ocean. The largest naval battle of the American Revolution took place here as well in 1781. The Cape Henry Memorial is only about a quarter-acre site commemorating the approximate site of the Jamestown settlers’ first landing in Virginia. The walkway up the dunes offers views of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
Atlantic Ave, Fort Story, VA 23459, Phone: 757-898-2410
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20.Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
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The Cumberland Gap is known as the “first great gateway to the west” and the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park now preserves the route was taken by pioneers through the mountains and into the Kentucky wilderness. Modern day travelers and explorers can experience several miles of trails at the Cumberland Gap Park’s twenty-four thousand acres through the extensive trail system, learn about the area’s rich history, and discover scenic features throughout the park, such as cascading waterfalls, unique rock formations, and amazing overlooks. The hidden world found normally underground can be found inside mountains, with cave tour offered to guests.
1, VA 24248, Phone: 606-248-2817
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21.Fort Monroe National Monument
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Fort Monroe boasts the nickname of Freedom’s Fortress and features a long history spanning almost four centuries, beginning in the year 1609 with the first settlers to serving as a safe house for slaves in the years of the Civil War to acting as a defense bastion for the bay throughout World War II. Visitors can relax and spend some times outdoors on the green grounds and maybe spot a member of the bird family of the Fort Monroe National Monument park. Fort Monroe is a site of particular African American cultural significance, with several historical events taking place at the fort.
41 Bernard Rd, Fort Monroe, VA 23651, Phone: 757-722-3678
22.Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania
The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is known as “America’s battleground.” The Civil War rose to a bloody climax in the area of Spotsylvania, Wilderness, Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg. There is possibly no other place the reflects the tragic cost of the Civil War more vividly in all of its forms. The park consists of four of the major battlefields of the Civil War, as well as a number of other historic buildings related to the war. The Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center and the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center both serve as a good introduction to the historic site.
Fredericksburg, VA 22405, Phone: 540-693-3200
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23.Great Falls Park
The Great Falls Park sits along the Potomac River at a spot where the river gains force and speed as its cascades over jagged, steep rocks and through the Mather Gorge. There are many different opportunities for visitors to explore the nature and history of the 800-acre Great Falls Park, located just fifteen miles from Washington, DC. The park is only for day-use, no camping allowed. There is also a Visitor Center with a bookstore on-site. The Visitor Center shows a 10-minute film about the park’s history, in addition to providing trail maps, self-guided tour info, and other useful information.
George Washington Memorial Pkwy, McLean, VA 22101, Phone: 703-757-3101
24.Prince William Forest Park
The Prince William Forest Park acts as an oasis only a short distance from the nation’s capital, a respite of calm and quiet. The park, which was formerly known as the Chopawamsic Recreation Area from 1936 until 1948, has welcomed generations of nature lovers, bikers, hikers, and campers, with more than one hundred cabins, campgrounds, bike-accessible trails and roads, and hiking trails. Camping options at the Prince William Forest Park range from tent campsites and RV campsites to cabins to a backcountry campground. Visitors can explore the backcountry of the park along the park’s thirty-seven miles of hiking trails.
18100 Park Headquarters Rd, Triangle, VA 22172, Phone: 703-221-7181
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25.Shenandoah National Park
The Shenandoah National Park is situated around seventy-five miles from the busy capital of Washington, D.C., and acts as an escape for re-creation and recreation. The park features cascading waterfalls, tranquil wooded hollows, and spectacular vistas. Visitors can sit and have a picnic, wander along the Skyline Drive, or go hiking along more than five hundred miles of trails and maybe spot a songbird or deer throughout the Shenandoah National Park’s almost two hundred thousand acres. Campers can choose to camp out in the backcountry for a truly immersive experience in the park’s wild side, full of challenge and beauty.
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East, Luray, VA 22835, Phone: 540-999-3500
25 Best Virginia State & National Parks
- Bear Creek Lake State Park, Photo: Celli07/stock.adobe.com
- Belle Isle State Park, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Claytor Lake State Park, Photo: Isabel/stock.adobe.com
- Douthat State Park, Photo: The Perfect Moment
- Fairy Stone State Park, Photo: sauseyphotos/stock.adobe.com
- First Landing State Park, Photo: Mosto/stock.adobe.com
- Grayson Highlands State Park, Photo: Tom/stock.adobe.com
- High Bridge Trail State Park, Photo: Todd/stock.adobe.com
- Hungry Mother State Park, Photo: UMB-O/stock.adobe.com
- James River State Park, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Mason Neck State Park, Photo: Grafton/stock.adobe.com
- Natural Bridge State Park, Photo: holly/stock.adobe.com
- Occoneechee State Park, Photo: tuulijumala/stock.adobe.com
- Pocahontas State Park, Photo: studiodr/stock.adobe.com
- Powhatan State Park, Photo: Erica Smit/stock.adobe.com
- Shenandoah River State Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Westmoreland State Park, Photo: Africa Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Assateague Island, Photo: Deatonphotos/stock.adobe.com
- Cape Henry Memorial, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Monroe National Monument, Photo: Jenny Thompson/stock.adobe.com
- Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania, Photo: steheap/stock.adobe.com
- Great Falls Park, Photo: eurobanks/stock.adobe.com
- Prince William Forest Park, Photo: suwatwongkham/stock.adobe.com
- Shenandoah National Park, Photo: spiritofamerica/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Kristina/stock.adobe.com