Travel Ideas and Stories - Virginia's Travel Blog

The Great American Backyard Campout

by Casey | Posted on June 17th, 2013

Centered around one night, June 22, the Great American Backyard Campout can happen anywhere – your own backyard, a neighborhood park or in one of Virginia’s 35 State Parks.

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Why camp? Virginia State Parks offers, “Camping is an affordable family vacation or weekend getaway experience – a family of four can go camping for less than the cost of a movie.” The National Wildlife Federation suggests, “The nature of childhood has changed. There’s not much nature in it.” Put down the electronics and let’s vacation on the cheap while introducing our kids to amazing outdoors they may have never previously experienced.

For families who are new to camping, a special group camping experience is offered at the following Virginia State Parks:

Each one of Virginia’s 35 state parks is participating in the Great American Backyard Campout, and each one has something unique to offer for the weekend.

Check out Camping 101 at Wilderness Road, Fire Starting 101 at Claytor Lake, Campfire 101 at Fairy Stone and Campfire Cooking 101 at Twin Lakes.

Holliday Lake State Park

Holliday Lake State Park

Try beginner level archery, canoeing, fishing and geocaching at Bear Creek Lake (Cumberland). Geocaching for beginners will also be offered at Belle Isle.

Don’t have a tent? Don’t buy one. Head to Holliday Lake (Appomattox) and borrow one of theirs for the night. Limited availability. Reserve.

Boys seem to love slimy things, so yours will love the Salamander Meander at Douthat (Millboro). Bring your headlamp or flashlight to search for these slithery critters at dusk.

Experienced campers can pack their equipment in to False Cape (Virginia Beach) and set up for the night. Be quick about it, however, as reservations are available at the park office for a sunset kayak paddle you won’t want to miss.

Into pirate lore (or are the stories real?!)? Head to First Landing (Virginia Beach) for free programming that includes some pirate talk (arrgh!), seashell artwork, marine life programs and more.

Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson Highlands State Park

“Leave No Trace” is a common term and practice for veteran outdoorspeople. Are you in the know? Learn how to camp with a low impact on the environment when you camp at Grayson Highlands (Mouth of Wilson).

A hot new Virginia State Park destination is High Bridge Trail (Farmville). Don’t miss your chance to experience a free After Dinner Tour of the famed steel High Bridge on what will be its 99th anniversary on June 22.

A 12-mile guided canoe trip awaits you when you stay at New River Trail (Foster Falls). Bring your fishing poles (if you want) and a lunch to enjoy along the way. Several stops will be included to introduce you to macro invertebrates, GPS usage, birding and survival skills. For ages 10 and over. Registration is $25/person. Call 276-699-6778.

Where are you headed this Saturday night? We can only hope it’s into Virginia’s great outdoors. Learn more about Virginia Great Outdoor Month at and find an upcoming Virginia State Park event to attend.

The Great American Backyard Campout is an event sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation to encourage families to unplug, spend a night in the outdoors, get active and “Be Out There.”

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