Planning an overnight visit to a Virginia State Park?This quick guide will help you pick the perfect site for you next Virginia State Parks adventure.
Camping cabin at Shenandoah River State Park
Grill and cook out area outside a cabin at Staunton River State Park
I recently made reservations and realized how many questions came up in the process. What type of site do I want? Does it matter which one I pick? What are the differences between the available options?
Well here are some of the answers:
Types of Sites:
Primitive Campsites: These are campsites with facilities for campers with tents. While primitive campgrounds vary from park to park, campsites usually have picnic tables and fire rings. Additionally, many campgrounds offer a campground bathhouse with shower facilities. Group campsites are available in several parks.
RV Sites: These campsites have electric and water hook ups to accommodate campers with RVs. Additionally, the campgrounds at Kiptopeke and Hungry Mother have sewer hook ups.
Camping Cabins: Four parks (Pocahontas, Westmoreland, Lake Anna, and Shenandoah River) offer camping cabins. Maybe you don’t own a tent but still want a camping experience or maybe you like camping but want to sleep in a bed. If this sounds like you, then camping cabins are for you. While you provide your own linens, these single room cabins have beds and offer the campground experience.
Cabins: Nineteen parks have CCC built cabins, to modern facilities. All have kitchens, bathrooms, beds with linens, and outdoor grills.
Lodges: There are two types of lodges available in some parks. Camping lodges or bunkhouses are similar to camping cabins but can accommodate a larger number of people. Also available are lodges which are comparable to cabins and can hold large groups.
Considerations When Selecting A Site:
Accessible Sites: Accessible sites are available. Depending on your needs, this may be a good option. Sometimes, we prefer accessible sites because our toddler relies on a stroller. The lack of stairs and wide doorways make it a breeze to maneuver the large stroller (and play pen) in and out of the cabin. My parents, who are seniors, choose accessible sites because the lack of stairs and level ground is easier and safer to navigate.
Waterfront: Waterfront sites are beautiful and offer obvious advantages. However, there are some things to consider. Waterfront sites tend to be windier. The breeze can be cooling relief during the summer but chilling during late fall or winter. Another consideration is that our toddler is a curious explorer without safety awareness which means she has to be watched closely at waterfront sites.
New/Old: Virginia State Parks offer cabins of various age. There are historic cabins like those at Chippokes Plantation State Park or the parks with CCC cabins. Additionally, you can find newer, modern cabins. Both styles have pros and cons. My family appreciates the legacy of and the unique details of the historical cabins such as built in shelves or hand built doors. But, we also enjoy the spacious and modern design of the newer cabins. We found both types of cabins, new and old, to be equally as comfortable.
Grill Location: This is something that may not be obvious to consider. We stayed in a cabin where the grill was located down a steep incline. Fortunately, it wasn’t an issue for us at the time. However, I can see how it would be difficult for families with small children or older adults to access the grill.
Porch Options: One of our favorite parts of Virginia State Park getaways is the time spent on porches. Depending on the cabin types, parks may have varying porch options such as covered porches, screened porches, or open porches. If it looks like it may rain a day or two of your stay, a covered porch is a wonderful spot to enjoy the weather.
Location In Campground: Are you a social butterfly or more of an introvert? Do you want to be in the midst of things or have more privacy? When selecting a cabin or campsite, consider its location. If you desire more privacy, pick a cabin or site at the end of the road or off a side loop. If you are more the social type, pick a site with more traffic like one closer to the bathhouse, in the middle of the campground, or at a roads entrance.
Flexibility: We have always been very pleased with the sites we’ve selected. In all honesty, there are not any bad sites in Virginia State Parks. In peak season, site availability may be limited due to high demand. If having an exact site is important to you, make your reservations well in advance. Otherwise, having some flexibility can open up many new possibilities that may not have been
Primitive site near the river at Shenandoah River State Park
Reservations can be made online at Reserve America or by calling 1-800-933-PARK (7275). If you make reservations online, you can view the campground map which may help in choosing a site. By calling 1-800-933-7275, you can have your questions and concerns answered by the reservation specialist. If you have a park specific question, call the park during visitor center hours.