Top 10 State Parks in Virginia According to Trip Advisor

by Virginia State Parks | Posted: Sep 6, 2018

Comments: 1 Comment

We love all of our state parks here in Virginia, but there seems to be a tipping of the scale in the direction of a few according to Trip Advisor, maybe they are just most visited, or real hidden gems. But it might surprise you that they aren’t all located on a body of water.

Thanks to the many park guests who write reviews, we have compiled this list with quotes from Trip Advisor of the Top 10 Virginia State Parks.

“BUCKET LIST HIKE”

1. | GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK

Near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two highest mountains, Grayson Highlands offers scenic views of alpine-like peaks more than 5,000 feet high. There’s a visitor center, campgrounds, and hiking trails leading to waterfalls and overlooks.

Scenic horse trails and a horse camping area with electric and water hookups, stables and parking for trailers are available.

The park also provides year-round access to the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail.

Check them out:

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“THE JEWEL OF THE BLUE RIDGE”

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From sunset paddles to catching citation Bass there’s plenty outside recreation here

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

2. | SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE STATE PARK

Located on the shores of the second largest freshwater lake in the state, this picturesque park is the water enthusiast’s paradise.

There are plenty of water activities, including swimming, boat rentals, a boat ramp and a universally accessible fishing pier.

Families can also enjoy picnicking, a visitor center, an amphitheater, special programs, camping, miles of trails and cabins with boat docks.

“ONE OF MY FAVORITE PLACES”

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Hiking, biking and swimming are just a short list of the fun activities

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

3. | HUNGRY MOTHER STATE PARK

Has long been known as a family favorite for beautiful woodlands and a placid 108-acre lake in the heart of the mountains.

Hungry Mother has a sandy beach with bathhouse, boat rentals (fishing, canoe, kayak and paddle), a boat launch and a universally accessible fishing pier.

Guests also enjoy its campgrounds, cabins, yurts, gift shops, visitor center, six-bedroom family lodge that sleeps 15, hiking and biking trails, and restaurant. Also popular for nature-based park programs for all ages.

“HIKER’S PARADISE!”

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From fossil walks to mountain bike races, this park is a fabulous day trip destination

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

4. | YORK RIVER STATE PARK

Well-known for its rare and delicate estuarine environment, where freshwater and saltwater meet to create a rich habitat for marine and plant life.

Programs, activities and visitor center displays focus on the history, use, wildlife and preservation of the York River and its marshes. With more than 30 miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails allow guests to explore the marsh, river shoreline and forests.

There is also a boat ramp, fresh and salt water fishing spots, a fishing pier, playgrounds, picnic shelters, and seasonal boat and recreational equipment rentals are available.

“A PARK THAT HAS EVERYTHING”

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From Cypress Swamps to Chesapeake Bay beach access, and is located in Virginia Beach

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

5. | FIRST LANDING STATE PARK

First Landing offers many recreational and educational activities and has many unusual habitats including bald cypress swamps, lagoons and maritime forest, as well as rare plants and wildlife.

Cabins, water and electric hook-up campsites, picnic areas, boat ramps and a camp store with bicycle rentals are also available.

This park has been called an oasis within the urban setting of Virginia Beach. Escape the busyness of the city and walk, hike or bike one of our many trails, we have 10 of them with over 20 miles to enjoy.

“PEACEFUL NATURE AT ITS BEST”

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In the heart of Virginia, this park offers hours of outside fun for the whole family

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

6. | POCAHONTAS STATE PARK

Offering boating, picnicking, camping, camping cabins, 64-plus miles of trails, and nature and history programs. The Aquatic Center affords seasonal water-based activities for all, and a great way to cool off when the temperatures soar.

Summertime, bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live performances by Pocahontas Premieres featuring rising and established performers from across the state at the park’s Amphitheatre.

Three lakes offer plenty of fishing. Rent paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks and rowboats seasonally by the 225-acre Swift Creek Lake. Have your camera handy, as this park is a favorite for wildlife photography.

“SURPRISE OF MY LIFE”

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A natural tunnel carved out of limestone and nearly as tall as a 10-story building

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

7. | NATURAL TUNNEL STATE PARK

More than 850 feet long and as tall as a 10-story building, Natural Tunnel was naturally carved through a limestone ridge over thousands of years.

Facilities include two campgrounds, cabins, picnic areas, an amphitheater, a visitor center, a camp store and a gift shop. You’ll also find the Wilderness Road historic area, a swimming pool with a 100-foot slide and a seasonal chairlift to the tunnel floor.

Wild Cave Tours are available from April 1 through October each year.

“GEM OF HISTORY”

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Step back in history when you visit this working farm along the shores of the historic James River

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

8. | CHIPPOKES PLANTATION STATE PARK

Is one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country and a working farm since 1619. Visitors tour the historic area with its antebellum mansion and outbuildings, stroll through formal gardens, and view antique equipment at the Chippokes Farm and Forestry Museum.

There is a wonderful campground and four overnight cabins allow visitors to stay on the historic grounds. The park has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a neat visitor center. It also provides opportunities to bike, hike, ride horseback and picnic.

One favorite feature of this park is the access to the Historic James River, where you can kayak, beachcomb for fossils and spot wildlife.

“MUST SEE”

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The bridge is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

9. | HIGH BRIDGE TRAIL STATE PARK

The trail is 31 miles long and wonderful for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Once a rail bed, the trail is wide, level and generally flat. You won’t want to miss the park’s centerpiece, the majestic High Bridge, which is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River.

It is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and one of the longest in the United States. You can rent bikes in nearby Farmville, and there is convenient parking in two lots nearest the bridge.

The park is open dawn to dusk, but there are unique park programs throughout the year that allow after-hours access like a Firefly Festival, special Astronomy evenings, and even one overnight of camping opportunity on the bridge.

“SUNSET VIEW IS AMAZING”

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Concrete ships located off the waterfront offer some of Virginia’s finest fishing and birding

Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

10. | KIPTOPEKE STATE PARK

On the beautiful Eastern Shore of Virginia, explored by Capt. John Smith in 1608, Kiptopeke offers recreational access to the Chesapeake Bay. The concrete ships located off the park’s waterfront offer some of Virginia’s finest fishing, and you can fish right off the lighted fishing pier.

This park has newer cabins, lodges, yurt, and a campground close to picnic area and playground.

It’s also a great place to explore unique migratory bird habitat along the Atlantic flyway. Seasonal interpretive and educational programs** focus on natural history, birding and bay ecology.

WHAT’S ON YOUR TOP 10 LIST?

There are so many review sites out there, so by all means don’t take this list as gospel, but it’s a good start. We recommend you visit as many Virginia State Parks as you like to make your own top 10 list, then share it with us. Follow this link to our Facebook page.

Call the reservation center to inquire about overnight accommodations in cabins, campgrounds and yurts at 800-933-7275. Click here to view a map of all Virginia State Parks.

#THINKOUTSIDE

Written by Shellie Anne for Virginia State Parks.

Featured image provided by Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Virginia’s 37 state parks are as diverse as the state itself, with parks along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, on historic sites, in the Blue Ridge Mountains and just outside of major cities. The parks have thousands of campsites, hundreds of cabins, more than 600 miles of trails and convenient access to Virginia’s major waterways.

 

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Olivia M. Wade
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Smith Mountain Lake State Park has it all! Beach, boat ramps, cabins, pavilion, rest rooms, hiking trails, wildlife exhibits…what more could you ask for in a well-run state park? They even have occasional entertainment on weekends. All on one of the cleanest large lakes in Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains..

A very well-run state park to boot