20 Virginia State Parks

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No matter which Virginia state park is on your list, you won’t be disappointed. Virginia really does offer one of the most diverse holidays in the U.S. As you travel around the state you will see everything from east coast beaches to rolling hills and the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia’s state parks reflect the varied landscape and rich history, including geological wonders, parks in the Blue Ridge Mountains and recreation areas close to rivers. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Virginia, the Old Dominion state.

Virginia State Parks

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20 State Parks In Virginia

1- Natural Tunnel State Park

The Natural Tunnel State Park is in southwestern Virginia close to the Tennessee border.

As the name suggests Natural Tunnel was carved through a limestone ridge thousands of years ago.

The tunnel is 850 feet long and 10 stories high and once you comprehend that it was naturally formed its quite the spectacle.

While at the park you can enjoy canoe trips along the Clinch River as well as cave tours.

It’s a good idea to head straight to the Cove Ridge Center where you can learn more about the local geology and history.

If you fancy camping there are two campgrounds with a variety of facilities.

There are also cabins for a bit more of a luxurious stay.

Natural Tunnel State Park is at 1420 Natural Tunnel Pkwy, Duffield, VA 24244.

2- Smith Mountain Lake State Park

state parks in virginia smith mountain lake
One of the Virginia state parks you’ll love is Smith Mountain Lake.

Another of the best state parks in Virginia is Smith Mountain Lake State Park.

This park is on the banks of the 82km² Smith Mountain Lake in the Roanoke Region of Virginia.

Water enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy visiting this state park.

You can enjoy boating, swimming, and fishing on the pier.

Other facilities in the park include the visitor centre, amphitheater and a number of special programs that are run by the state park.

You can stay overnight at the campground book one of the cabins with waterfront views.

Smith Mountain Lake State Park is at 1235 Rd 888, Huddleston, VA 24104.

3- Claytor Lake State Park

In southwestern Virginia and less than 10 minutes’ drive from Dublin you will find Claytor Lake State Park, which is all about the 4,500 acre (1821 ha) lake.

This park offers a plethora of water and land activities that are fun for the whole family.

There’s a full-service marina that caters to all your on-the-water needs.

Here you can pick up fuel, rent boats and buy supplies and refreshments.

There’s also a fishing pier and a sandy beach where you can go swimming.

For the perfect scenic retreat, you can stay at one of the park’s three lodges or 15 cabins that overlook the lake.

Another good place to visit in the park is Howe House which has an interactive exhibit that focuses on the lake’s ecology.

Claytor Lake State Park is at 6620 Ben H Bolen Dr, Dublin, VA 24084.

4- Grayson Highlands State Park

grayson highlands state park log cabin and fall tree
Admire fall colours at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia.

Grayson Highlands State Park is in southern Virginia close to the border with North Carolina.

The park is between Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, two of the state’s highest mountains.

There are 13 trails within the park all with beautiful views.

If you are lucky, you might be able to see some of the 100 wild ponies that are found within Grayson Highlands and the nearby Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

From conquering the summit of Mount Rogers to easier 1.6-mile loop trails this state park has a hiking route for every ability.

Follow the Cabin Creek Trail and you can enjoy views of a 25 foot waterfall.

Grayson Highlands State Park is at 829 Grayson Highland Ln, Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363.

5- Douthat State Park

Douthat State Park is in western Virginia close to the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest.

The park has been in operation since 1936 and it’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Douthat State Park provides visitors with some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the state.

In addition to stunning natural scenery there are a number of things to do in the park.

You can go hiking on more than 40 miles (64 km) of wooded trails, some of which are open to mountain bikers.

There’s also a beach area that is open from May to October.

Boating and fishing can be enjoyed on Douthat Lake, which is stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout.

Douthat State Park is at 14239 Douthat State Park Rd, Millboro, VA 24460.

6- Hungry Mother State Park

Head to Smyth County to visit Hungry Mother State Park which is less than 10 minutes’ drive outside Marion.

Hungry Mother State Park is one of the original six Virginia state parks and has long been a favourite among locals.

From the dense woodland to the 108-acre (44 ha) lake and mountain views this is a beautiful spot to enjoy nature.

One of the most popular parts of the park is the sandy beach which also has a bath house.

Popular water sports at the park include canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.

Hungry Mother State Park is at 2854 Park Blvd, Marion, VA 24354.

7- Fairy Stone State Park

Fairy Stone State Park is in the south of Virginia around hours’ drive south of Roanoke.

As the name suggests this state park is home to the fairy stones.

These unique stone crystals can only be found in a few places around the world but they can be found in abundance in Patrick County at this state park.

It is believed that presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt used to carry fairy stones with them for good luck.

The stones come in four different shapes; the Maltese cross is the rarest to find.

If you set aside some time and gather your patience you can definitely find these stone crystals at Fairy Stone State Park.

Aside from finding good luck charms you can head out along the park’s 10 miles (16 km) of multi-use trails.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can swim at the beach.

The beach also has a lifeguard.

If fishing is more your thing, then you can head to Fairy Stone Lake and try your luck at catching panfish.

Fairy Stone State Park is at 967 Fairystone Lake Dr, Stuart, VA 24171.

8- Natural Bridge State Park

virginia state parks natural bridge
Natural Bridge State Park is one of the impressive state parks in Virginia.

From natural tunnels to the Natural Bridge State Park, which is around 45 minutes’ drive northeast of Roanoke.

This place was only dedicated as a state park in 2016 and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park’s main focal point is the 200-foot limestone natural bridge that has been carved by Cedar Creek.

Though the natural bridge is of course well worth visiting there are so many other things to see in the park.

The bridge is surrounded by forest and meadows.

There are 10 miles (16 km) of hiking trails including the Cedar Creek Trail which head underneath the bridge and to the Saltpeter Cave and Lace Falls.

If you are travelling with kids then you can take them to the Children’s Discovery Area.

There’s the park’s track trail for kids as well as the nature explore outdoor classroom.

Natural Bridge State Park is at 6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578.

9- Powhatan State Park

Powhatan State Park is in the northwest corner of Powhatan County along the banks of the James River.

The park is home to 2.5 miles (4 km) of James River waterfront and there is ample room to launch your canoes or kayaks.

You can canoe down the river for around two miles and the water is generally calm but be sure to check the currents before you hop in.

If walking is more your thing, then make use of the 12 miles (19 km) of multi-use trails.

These trails wind through fields, pine forest and hardwood trees.

For somewhere fun to stay, why not book one of the park’s three yurts.

They are complete with a patio, picnic table and fire-ring for cooking.

Powhatan State Park is at 4616 Powhatan State Park Rd, Powhatan, VA 23139.

10- Pocahontas State Park

Pocahontas State Park is just 25 minutes’ drive south of Richmond.

In a matter of minutes, you can escape city life and immerse yourself in nature.

This park really hits the spot for nature lovers, with more than 90 miles (145 km) of trails for hiking and biking.

Both adults and kids will love the Aquatic Recreation Center which is open between 11 am and 6 pm (7 pm on weekends).

Those camping at the park during summer get free swimming for each night of their stay.

As well as camping facilities there is also cabin and lodge facilities.

Pocahontas State Park is at 10301 State Park Rd, Chesterfield, VA 23832.

11- False Cape State Park

The beautiful serenity of False Cape State Park is hard to compare with any other Virginia state park.

This park is located in the southeastern part of the state around 50 minutes’ drive from Chesapeake.

The park is between the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay.

This place is special because it’s one of the last undeveloped areas of its kind.

The park does experience some rapidly changing weather conditions so be sure to pack a raincoat, insect repellent and sunscreen.

There are 15.3 miles (24.6 km) of trails to discover.

The trails head out along the barrier spit allowing you to see the diverse landscape of such a unique environment.

From sand dunes, to maritime forest and swamps this state park is all-encompassing.

False Cape State Park is at 4001 Sandpiper Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.

12- Kiptopeke State Park

Very nearly at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula facing Chesapeake Bay is Kiptopeke State Park.

The park is known as a place that Captain John Smith explored in 1608 and today it’s the perfect place to explore the Chesapeake Bay.

There are two designated but unguarded places to swim.

Fishing is another popular activity and it’s one of the best sports in the state.

You can fish from the pier with no license but if you want to fish from the shoreline then you will need to obtain a Virginia saltwater fishing license.

Why not make the most of this wonderful park by staying for a few days.

You can camp, stay in the cabins, yurts or even the camping lodge.

Kiptopeke State Park is at 3540 Kiptopeke Dr, Cape Charles, VA 23310.

13- Machicomoco State Park

Machicomoco State Park is in eastern Virginia along the banks of the York River in Gloucester County.

There’s plenty to do at this state park, especially if you enjoy hiking.

One of the best things to do in the park is learn about the area’s history.

The area is strongly associated with the Tsenacommacah and Powhatan’s Chiefdom.

There’s an open-air pavilion you can visit to learn more about local indigenous people, their culture and the landscape around them.

If you plan on staying overnight then you can choose from hiking-in tent sites, vehicle camping or yurts.

Machicomoco State Park is at 3601 Timberneck Farm Rd, Hayes, VA 23072.

14- Belle Isle State Park

Belle Isle State Park is on the Rappahannock River about 1 hour 30 minutes from Richmond.

The park covers seven miles of the Rappahannock River’s shoreline.

By far one of the best ways to explore the park is by canoe or kayak.

You can bring your own boats or rent them at the camp store.

This is a quaint state park offering visitors the chance to experience a peaceful slice of Virginia’s natural beauty.

It is possible to stay at the park at the Bel Air Overnight Area, which offers guest house accommodation as well as camping.

Belle Isle State Park is at 1632 Belle Isle Rd, Lancaster, VA 22503.

15- Caledon State Park

The Potomac River separates Maryland and Virginia and Caledon State Park is right on the river.

You can also reach this state park from Washington D.C. in just an hour and 30 minutes.

This 2,579-acre (1044 ha) state park is known for its forest, where the dense trees offer a safe and sheltered environment for wildlife to thrive.

During summer the park is home to many bald eagles which you might be lucky enough to see.

Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars.

You can also head to the visitor centre where there is a bald eagle exhibit to learn more about the species.

Caledon State Park is at 11617 Caledon Rd, King George, VA 22485.

16- Widewater State Park

Another of the best state parks in Virginia is Widewater State Park.

This park is on Aquia Creek around an hour’s drive from Caledon State Park.

There are a couple of short hiking trails.

The Long Pond Trail runs alongside Aquia Creek as well as Long Pond.

Though swimming is not possible because of the strong currents the Potomac River is an excellent destination for largemouth bass fishing.

Accommodation in the park is still under construction but they do offer primitive tent only paddle in camping.

Widewater State Park is at 11617 Caledon Rd, King George, VA 22485.

17- Sky Meadows State Park

farming view from the state park
The view from  Sky Meadows State Park in Virginia is charmingly pastoral.

Sky Meadows State Park is in northern Virginia just an hour’s drive from Washington D.C.

Sky Meadows State Park kind of feels like stepping into the British countryside.

Fall and spring are some of the best times to visit the park as the surrounding trees burst into colour and the flowers begin to bloom.

There are 22 miles (35.4 km) of trails for a variety of abilities.

You can also access three miles of the Appalachian Trail from within the park.

You can access a lot of the hiking trails from the Mount Bleak Historic Area which is located just off route 17.

Sky Meadows State Park is also an International Dark Sky Park, one of five in Virginia.

This means it’s an excellent location for stargazing.

Sky Meadows State Park is at 11012 Edmonds Ln, Delaplane, VA 20144.

18- Shenandoah River State Park

autumn trees reflected in the river
Shenandoah River State Park in Virginia is amazing to visit in the fall.

On the banks of one of the meanders of the South Fork Shenandoah River is the Shenandoah River State Park.

If you are visiting Washington D.C. then this is an excellent day trip.

The park is around 1,600 acres (647 ha) and has 5.2 miles of river shoreline.

Be sure to pack a picnic for your trip along the Shenandoah River.

There’s a large picnic area right on the river with a scenic overlook.

Many people visiting the park choose to head out onto the water for canoeing and fishing.

Hikers can add up their steps by walking the 15 miles (24 km) of trails and there are biking and horse riding trails as well.

Shenandoah River State Park is at 350 Daughter of Stars Dr, Bentonville, VA 22610.

19- Seven Bends State Park

Seven Bends State Park is in northern Virginia along the North Fork Shenandoah River, less than 100 miles (161 km) west of Washington D.C.

The park is named after the meandering North Fork Shenandoah River.

This is actually one of Virginia’s newest state parks but it’s well worth visiting.

Here you can enjoy eight miles of hiking trails where you can enjoy meadows, forest, river views and an abundance of corn stalks.

You can access the park from Hollingsworth Road or Lupton Road but be mindful that the two entrances don’t connect once inside the park.

Seven Bends State Park is at 2111 S Hollingsworth Rd, Woodstock, VA 22664.

20- First Landing State Park

Virginia state parks first landing
First Landing State Park in Virginia is a back-to-nature escape to the forest.

The final park on this list of the 20 best state parks in Virginia is First Landing state Park.

The park is on the Virginia east coast at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay where the estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The park is just under three miles from Virginia Beach and a 25-minute drive from Norfolk.

As the name suggests this park is where the first colonists from England landed back in 1607.

Many groups from Native Americans to colonial settlers navigated the unique landscape of this area and the Chesapeake Bay.

This is one of the most visited state parks in Virginia.

There are 20 miles (32 km) of trails and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of beautiful beach front along Chesapeake Bay.

They’ve got everything you need at this park including cabins, yurts and a full hook-up campsite.

First Landing State Park is at 2500 Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23451. 

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!