Camping is not cancelled
Summer is almost here! Temperatures are rising, days are getting longer and the outdoors are calling. If you are like me and tired of being quarantined and cooped up then I have good news. Local state parks have officially reopened their campgrounds. Weather you prefer “glamping” or “roughin’ it”, the two state parks here in the Northern Neck offer amenities and activities for campers and day visitors of all ages and abilities. So gather your family, your friends, and your pets and get ready to kick off the camping season!
Why choose a State Park?
There are quite a few camping options in our area, each with benefits and drawbacks to be sure. As a seasoned camper, I personally prefer state parks for multiple reasons. State parks tend to offer a wider range of activities and amenities to appeal to more people. They also tend to offer more “bang for your buck” as reservations tend to cost less and offer more. Because state parks are protected areas, they tend to be more secluded and offer you a better and more in-depth nature experience. In our area we are fortunate to have two excellent, well-maintained state parks that are certainly worth visiting.
Belle Isle State Park
Belle Isle State Park is located in Lancaster County just off of Route 3. The 892 acre park is set on the Rappahannock River. With around 7 miles of shoreline the park is a great place to take a walk on the beach. The park features a campground with 13 spots, three shelters for picnics or gatherings, hiking and biking trails, and boat launches. Bicycle, canoe, and kayak rentals are also available. There is even a playground for little visitors to enjoy and weekly educational events and programs for all. Not keen on the idea of camping? They also have two houses and a bunkhouse that can be rented.
For those looking for a little extra adventure, the park offers a primitive campground. This campground is for tent campers only and is accessible by boating in or hiking in.
Insights from a frequent camper
There are a few drawbacks worth noting. There is no designated swimming area (though many chose to swim at their own risk.) To access the beach, it is necessary to go down a set of steps which may not be ideal for older or handicapped individuals. In addition there is a bit od distance from the campground to the beach so be prepared for a good walk or consider driving.
Overall the park is very well maintained and clean. The campsites are nicely secluded with plenty of space for any camping set up. The bathhouses are spacious and up to date. Of the two parks Belle Isle is smaller and tends to be less crowded, a major bonus in my opinion!
For more specific information on the park or to reserve your site today visit https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/belle-isle
Westmoreland State Park
Westmoreland State park is located near Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County. The park is set on the Potomac River and features a large public beach with rentals available, plenty of picnic space, a fishing pier, and boat launches. There is also a smaller “fossil beach” where hikers can venture to search for sharks teeth and other artifacts. There is also an olympic sized swimming pool and a large gathering hall that can be reserved for events. The park offers 3 separate campgrounds, cabins, and lodges that can be reserved.
Please note: In keeping with recommended guidelines, the pool will be closed for the 2020 season.
Insights from a frequent camper
Westmoreland is a much larger park with a much greater capacity for campers. On the positive side, the availability is much better if you are booking a last minute trip, however the park can get very crowded in the summer months, on holidays, and on other peak weekends. The unique landscapes and cliffs of the park offer spectacular views and the hiking is excellent. Westmoreland also seems to be a bit more “kid-friendly.” The playground is just a short walk away and the Camp Store has a great variety of ice cream and other goodies. The campgrounds are well kept and maintained however they can get a bit busy weekends. If you enjoy getting to know your fellow campers then this is a great spot for you.
For more specific information on the park or to reserve your site today visit https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/westmoreland
Both parks will have their campgrounds open until the first weekend of December. Sites book especially fast on Independence Day and Labor day weekends. Fall also brings in a lot of guests as the leaves change color. Plan ahead and make your reservations in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on the fun. Happy Camping!
Read more from Becca’s Corner
Hello readers! I am Rebecca Riddell, the Rappahannock Record’s online content manager. I am the face behind all of our social media outlets. I was born and raised here in the Northern Neck. My family and I love spending time outdoors and going on adventures of all kinds! I look forward to sharing some of my adventures and discoveries here on this blog! Thanks for reading!