14 Awesome Tent Camping Experiences in Virginia

by Stefanie Hatcher | Posted: Jul 1, 2014 | Updated: Oct 19, 2016

Comments: 54 Comments


There is no better way to get back to nature than to pitch a tent and take on the wilderness. You’ll find hundreds of camping facilities around the state, but how about taking a trip to some tent-only campgrounds? Or better yet, campgrounds that have no vehicular access? They’re worth the experience.



Greenwood Point Campground – Warm Springs
Those who enjoy the solitude of an isolated and remote location will be drawn to Greenwood Point Campground. With no road access, the adventure is just getting there! Strap on that pack and take the 3.3 mile hike, or paddle a canoe directly to the shores of the campground. Wooded campsites encircle an open and grassy common area, and lakeside views make this a popular private and quiet camping destination.

New River Trail State Park – Foster Falls
New River Trail State Park has four primitive campgrounds: Cliffview, Millrace, Baker Island and Double Shoals. If you’re looking for a most unique tent-camping trip, this is the place to visit. Enjoy the amenities and adventures of the state park and retreat to a peaceful campsite to take in the serenity of nature. There is no vehicular access to the campsites, or any showers or bathhouses. Access to the campgrounds are hike-in or boat-in.

New River Trail State Park

New River Trail State Park

False Cape State Park – Virginia Beach
There’s no access to the beach by car when you camp at False Cape State Park. Pack it in, bicycle it in or boat it in. Those are the only ways you’re going to camp here. Twelve camp sites separated into four remote areas are available by advance reservations only. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation warns, “Camping at False Cape State Park is not recommended for young children, inexperienced campers, or those who need access to emergency medical care.”

Deer Island Park – Henry County
A pleasant place in Philpott Lake, Deer Island Park is only accessible by boat, and camping is first come, first served. Twenty-one sites are available; permits can be obtained at the Salthouse Branch or Bowens Creek gatehouses. Campers are limited to six per site (with the exception of a core family unit like two adults and more than four children), and no more than two tents per site.



Lewis Mountain Campground – Luray
Lewis Mountain, located within the Shenandoah National Park, is the smallest campground in the park. This site especially appeals to those who want a little more privacy without venturing deep into the back-country, yet it is within seven miles of the popular Big Meadows area of the park.

Mount Rogers

Mount Rogers & Whitetop Mountain

Grayson Highlands – Mouth of Wilson

Grayson Highlands State Park Campground offers basic campgrounds with beautiful views, but that is just the beginning. The park is the gateway to the state’s highest peak, Mount Rogers, and also an entry to the Appalachian Trail. You can hike, bike, and even ride a horse along the trails. And don’t be surprised if you come across some interesting wildlife while venturing through the region; wild ponies roam the park freely. There is power at the sites but no water from November-March, and also no bathrooms or showers.

Camp Outback – Luray
Take in the breathtaking views of the mountains encompassing Luray. A strictly tent-only campground, Camp OutBack has 25 wooded camp sites, each accommodating up to 10 campers, offering a picnic table, charcoal grill and fire pit. Take a hike to the Shenandoah River or a 10-mile trip into Luray. A fishing lake is available nearby, as well as Shenandoah River Outfitters, offering canoeing, kayaking, rafting and tubing. Essential amenities are available, such as restrooms, shower, and available firewood for purchase.

Bluecat on the New – Draper
Bluecat on the New offers Tipi rentals and primitive camping sites. The tipis have river rock floors and can have up to 4 single or 2 double cots (which are provided). Six campsites are equipped with grills and picnic tables. All sites are located on the scenic New River and have river access, as well as canoe, kayak and tube rentals. For those who are looking for a day of fishing, guided services are available. Also close by is the New River Trail State Park, perfect for those who would like to do some hiking, biking or horseback riding during their stay. A bath house with men and women’s showers is located on the grounds.

Camp Karma Campground – Bedford
Check out the upscale camping experience at Camp Karma Campground in Bedford. The campground, located on 42 acres in the southwestern region of the state, offers 36 campsites, which are primarily for tent campers. The property offers hiking trails, a recreation field and visitors can swim and fish is Goose Creek. Standard amenities are available on the grounds.

Outlanders River Camp – Luray
Enjoy primitive camping along the Shenandoah River at Outlanders River Camp. The camp offers activities ranging from kayaking to hiking, and everything in between. Primitive sites, as well as electric tent sites are available on property. Looking to spend a day outside the grounds? Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest are just 15 minutes away.

Ed Allen’s Campground – Lanexa
Ed Allen’s offers a tranquil, 85-acre shaded retreat, featuring some of Virginia’s finest camping, fishing, recreation and wildlife. Try your luck on our two fully stocked ponds located in the campground, or one of Virginia’s greatest fishing retreats, the Chickahominy Lake. Peaceful evenings around the fire, fishing, boating, canoeing, or kayaking will make for enduring memories.

Blowing Springs Campground – Warm Springs
Offering both sunny and shaded camping sites, visitors to Blowing Springs Campground will be amazed by the phenomenon for which this site is named. A unique geological feature creates a duct that blows air out of the rocks at a constant 58 degrees, which may feel warm or cool depending on the season. Direct access to trails leading to swimming holes, and a stream stocked with trout are a few of the many reasons to visit this campground.

Burke Lake Park Camping – Fairfax Station
Take a camping trip to remember at Burke Lake Park. The campground, which offers nearly 100 campsites, is surrounded by acres of forest and one of Virginia’s most popular fishing holes. Fairfax Station offers convenient access to the Metrorail, which can put you in our nation’s capital within minutes. Enjoy the primitive tent-camping experience, and the excitement and history D.C. has to offer.

North Creek Campground – Arcadia
Located along the edge of North Creek, this campground offers shady campsites and a relaxed atmosphere. Prop your feet up and listen to the stream as it gurgles past, or take advantage of the fishing just outside your tent. The nearby trails include Whitetail, Cornelius Creek and Apple Orchard Falls. Enjoy a large expanse of National Forest land for hunting and hiking.



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P Hines says:

What campground is the picture next to the river with the man and lady and the brown lab dog taken at?

Casey Higgins says:

That is New River Campground in Independence, but it’s staged for our photo shoot. I looked at their campsite map and see that there are waterfront tent sites up on the bank, but I’m not sure that you can actually pitch a tent as you see it portrayed here. Feel free to inquire with them directly. Thanks! http://www.virginia.org/Listings/PlacesToStay/NewRiverCampgroundCanoeingKayaking/

Annie says:

Long ago, when my kids were young, there was a campground, in Nelson County, on the Tye River that was great. I wonder if it’s still there.

Moire says:

Tye River Campground closed about 8 years ago.

Ray says:

Most national forests allow camping. Get a GPS and do your own thing. In my opinion”primitive” camping is the only camping.

Bill Davis says:

Before heading into False Cape there are a few things potential campers should know. Please accept my advice as genuine and not to discourage you, but as the city is close you may want o understand some of these things:

1) The mosquitoes are next level. They are horrendous.

2) You can beat the mosquitoes, but the flies are worse.

3) The sand is thick so regardless of your type of bike at some point you will be pushing it with your gear through deep sand. The best camp sites are down sand trails towards the beach. They are beautiful sites.

4) Water is heavy.Heat and sand without water are a desert. Have enough of it. Get the imagery?

5) There are no fires allowed so meals should be planned with that in mind.

6) Be wary of popping even a day tent on the beach. While the article states there are no drivers allowed there will be traffic coming from the remaining pass holders that are allowed passage from Carova. It’s is weird when I am on the beach and all of the sudden an SUV is behind me. It startles you. You have to be aware of the trucks.

It is a beautiful beach, but to enjoy it you really need to get pretty deep into it. It’s not an easy trip, certainly not for everyone. If you picked up a copy of Outside mag and are feeling frisky after putting it down, just be realistic about your ability and be thorough in your planning.

Casey Higgins says:

Good advice! Thanks much, Bill!

Camping says:

Thanks, I am inspired to go camping again!:)

Ricky says:

City folk should stay in the city.

Peter KFBT says:

great collection of “tent only campgrounds”. this is very useful. is the meaning of “primitive” something like “wild camping” but in some special designated places?

Adam says:

“Primitive” camping generally means that the site is nothing more than a flat spot with a fire ring, maybe a grill or picnic table…no running water (generally no potable water—bring your own, or bring a filter/purification method), no electricity, no hot showers or RV hookups, and in some cases no bathrooms–sometimes it’s a vault toilet (outhouse/porta-john), other times it’s “dig your own” (nothing provided except guidance on how far from the site to go before digging your hole and doing your business).

Jenn says:

I always thought primitive meant no designated bathrooms other than what you created. Kinda like when hiking the AT. 🙂

Tom Kirk says:

I thought this was a great article too.

Alex says:

Try writing one yourself, Tom. You know you can do it!

Steve says:

Nice list. Went to Mathews Arm last Friday and the campsites are pretty much on top of each other, but Lewis Mtn sounds worth checking out. A couple other ideas here, if interested: http://www.olddominionwildlife.com/2014/06/29/camping-at-mathews-arm/