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Posts Tagged ‘state parks’

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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The Mansions of Virginia State Parks

by Casey | Posted on April 17th, 2013

You thought Virginia State Parks were all about camping and being outdoorsy, didn’t you? Well, they are, but there are historical features that might not have made it on your radar before. Like mansions. Come explore!

Jones-Stewart Mansion at Chippokes Plantation State Park

Jones-Stewart Mansion at Chippokes Plantation State Park

Chippokes Plantation State Park is located opposite Historic Jamestowne on the James River, so it should be no surprise that this plot of land has been farmed since 1619. Actually, it’s one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country.

The antebellum Jones-Stewart mansion is the centerpiece of the historic area at Chippokes, which also includes outbuildings and a Farm and Forestry Museum. The mansion is open for tours on weekends April through October and other select dates.

Special Events:
Steam and Gas Engine Show, June 1
Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival, July 20-21

The Karlan Mansion at Wilderness Road State Park in Ewing is an 1870s beauty available for special event rentals. The home was constructed from bricks made on the property. A museum room inside contains letters between Robert Ely and his wife Susan, concerning the construction of the home. Karlan has undergone several renovations over the years. The fireplaces and a pie safe are all that are original to this grand estate.

Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park

Interior of the Southwest Virginia Museum.

Special Events:
Raid at Martin’s Station, May 10-12
Fall Encampment at Martin’s Station, October 11-13
Wilderness Road Heritage Festival, October 12
Pumpkins in the Park, October 25-26

Bel Air Mansion at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster is the only state park mansion visitors can sleep in. The Colonial style Bel Air was built in 1942 by an architectural historian with Colonial Williamsburg. The home is available for event rentals as well as overnight accommodation, but is only open for tours by appointment.

Special Events:
Bay Seafood Festival, September 6

The Southwest Virginia Museum at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap is actually an 1890s Victorian stone mansion. The museum exhibits tell the tales of the region from 1700s pioneering to 1800s mining.

Special Events:
Gathering in the Gap Music Festival, May 25

See what other secrets and special events Virginia State Parks have in store at


LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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Good Times at Virginia State Parks

by Casey | Posted on April 8th, 2013

You’ll find tons of fun at Virginia State Parks this spring and summer with festivals, concerts and more.

Pork, Peanut and Pine FestivalWilderness Road State Park will host the annual reenactment of the Raid at Martin’s Station, May 10-12. It’s your chance to see the frontier of 1776, complete with Cherokee warriors and colonial militia.

Love a beautiful classic car? Head to Douthat State Park in Millboro on May 18-19 for the Douthat Lake Run Car Show, complete with live music.

Pocahontas State Park, located in Chesterfield, hosts music a music series each summer. This year brings country music sensations Justin Moore (May 23), Creedence Clearwater Revisted (June 13) and Lee Brice with Josh Thompson (July 10). On July 31, catch O.A.R. and keep an eye peeled for a few more concerts to be added.


Gathering in the Gap is an annual event held at Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park in Big Stone Gap. Gathering is a celebration of Southwest Virginia’s music heritage – bluegrass, old-time, blues and Americana. Don’t miss it! May 25.

The tastiest event at any Virginia State Park is the Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane. It’s held May 25-26 and includes great entertainment, fun for kids and of course, strawberry deliciousness.

Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry hosts the annual Steam and Gas Engine Show on June 1. This 23rd annual showing will feature tractor pulls, sawmill demonstrations, and a variety of “hit-and-miss” engines, and antique tractors and cars.

Later at Chippokes, catch the Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival. It will be held July 20-21 and celebrates the region’s treasured resources on one of America’s oldest continually farmed plantations.

Wayne Henderson

Virginia’s luthier legend, Wayne Henderson, hosts the annual Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition at Grayson Highlands State Park in Mouth of Wilson each year. This year’s date is June 15. See Wayne and many more traditional musicians perform.

Try your hand a fairy stone hunting during the Family Summer Fun Day at Fairy Stone State Park in Stuart on June 22. Free hot dogs and sodas while supplies last, and a DJ from WZBB99.9 will keep the day rocking with a live broadcast.

The Hungry Mother Arts and Crafts Festival is always a big draw for Hungry Mother State Park in Marion. The juried arts and craftsmen will take their places on July 19.

Need  a place to stay while you’re enjoying the fun? Check out Virginia State Park cabins. Book early and plan for a week-long getaway.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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Spring for Virginia State Park Cabins

by Casey | Posted on April 3rd, 2013

There’s something awesome about retreating to a cabin. Most often they offer more room than a hotel, more comfort than a tent and more solitude than a bed and breakfast. Truly, cabins are what you make them.

Bear Creek Lake State Park

Virginia State Park cabins include basic kitchen equipment (no dishwashers), a set of linens for each bed and one set of towels per person. If you’re used to camping and a cabin is an upgrade for you, you’ll find this to be pleasant news!

The furniture is rustic, mission style, and the bedrooms even include clock radios. If your kids likes to ham it up like mine do, the missing television and phone aren’t a problem. Truth be told, they’re actually a welcome omission in this age of technology and busyness.

Having 35 state parks to choose from, you have a wide range of cabin selections, too … 260 of them, in fact. From two-bedroom cabins to six-bedroom lodges, anywhere from one to 16 people can be accommodated. Additionally, waterfront and water view cabins are available at some parks while others are tucked into wooded seclusion.

Unique state park cabin experiences include Breaks Interstate Park in Southwest Virginia where five hand-hewn waterfront luxury cabins are available. These include laundry amenities and hot tubs.

Mountain views are plentiful for the ten cabins and one lodge at Natural Tunnel State Park, called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” They’re all perched high on a mountain ridge with great access to trails.

Buggs Island Lake is Virginia’s largest lake and the centerpiece of both Occoneechee and Staunton River State Parks – just pick which side of the lake you prefer!

What You Need to Know

Natural Tunnel State Park Cabin and Lodge

  • Virginia State Park cabins are rented on a weekly basis Memorial Day through Labor Day (prime season)*.
  • Cabins are non-smoking.
  • While Virginia State Parks are pet friendly, not all cabins are pet friendly. Inquire with the park you’re interested in to learn more.
  • Bring:
    • dish detergent, dish towels, paper towels, coffee and filters, salt and pepper and non-stick cooking spray
    • toiletries, extra bath/beach towels
    • flashlights, board games, books, a deck of cards, etc.
  • Don’t Bring:
    • firewood
  • You’ll Like:
    • an emergency phone at the contact station
    • climate-controlled cabins
    • picnic tables, fire rings and grills
    • decks or porches with rocking chairs
  • Prime Season Rates:
    • Virginia resident rates are about 12% cheaper than non-residents.
      • Efficiency from $474/week
      • 1 Bedroom from $557/week
      • 2 Bedrooms from $643/week
      • 3 Bedroom from $729/week
      • 6 Bedroom from $2,104/week
      • *Prime season starts the Friday night prior to Memorial Day and ends the Sunday night prior to Labor Day, with the exception of eight parks that include October 1-31 (fall foliage season) “prime” as well.

I LOVE Virginia State Parks logo

See all of the Virginia State Park cabin offerings at, then make your plans to getaway for family fun.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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Looking Ahead to Summer in Virginia

by Casey | Posted on March 26th, 2013

Love to be one of the first to experience something new? Fortunately, there are quite a few new things you can look forward to in Virginia this summer. Which ones will make your must-do list?



Kings Dominion has completely revitalized and expanded their kids Planet Snoopy area. Your family will now find nearly 14 acres of fun that includes 18 rides. It’s the world’s biggest PEANUTS themed children’s area and you can be among the first to give it a whirl. KD is located in Doswell and opens this Saturday, March 29. Get Tickets

The geocaching craze is spreading to families like wildfire and Virginia State Parks have a brand new Tree-mendous Adventure for 2013  - one you won’t want to miss. This year’s quest is all about Virginia’s native trees. Visit five parks and then register on Virginia Outdoors to receive a special prize. Hit all 34 caches and there might be another special surprise. Don’t have a handheld GPS? No worries. All Virginia State Parks have them available for rent.

LOVE our LOVEworks? There are more than 15 coming soon, and they stretch across the entire state. We’ll have the full list for you as soon as we’re able to share, but for now, catch a glimpse of the LOVEwork Richmond International Raceway is building. One thing is for sure – those who have made a game out of “finding the LOVE” have their work cut out for them!

ATV enthusiasts, rejoice! Finally, the Spearhead Trail in Southwest Virginia is opening this summer! Phase one – The Mountain View Trail System – opens in June. Permits will be available for sale in May. The Mountain View Trail highlights the best of southwest’s outdoors – amazing views from the mountains and lush, forest-lined creeks. Additionally, watch for 20 miles of the Leeman Field System to open sometime this year.

More to LOVE:

See what else is new in Virginia and make your summer plans soon.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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