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The Ultimate Camping In Virginia Guide – Be My Travel Muse


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Gretta Grigg



Welcome to the ultimate camping guide for the beautiful state of Virginia! If you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for an unforgettable camping experience, you have come to the right place. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and abundance of recreational opportunities, Virginia offers something for every type of camper.


From the stunning mountains of Shenandoah National Park to the tranquil beaches of Virginia Beach, this state has it all. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat in nature, an action-packed adventure, or a family-friendly getaway, Virginia has a campground to suit your needs.


Not only does camping in Virginia provide an opportunity to connect with nature, but it also allows you to explore the state’s fascinating history and experience its unique culture. From the Colonial-era landmarks of Williamsburg to the historic sites of Richmond, Virginia offers a wealth of cultural experiences just waiting to be discovered.


With its varied climate, Virginia offers camping opportunities throughout the year. From the vibrant colors of fall to the blossoming flowers of spring, each season brings its own beauty and charm to the camping experience.


But before you pack your camping gear and hit the road, it’s important to plan ahead. This guide will provide you with all the information you need to make your camping trip in Virginia a success. From the best time to go camping to the must-have gear, and from top campgrounds to safety tips, we’ve got you covered.


So, get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Virginia’s great outdoors and embark on an adventure that will create memories to last a lifetime. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or new to the camping world, Virginia offers an array of camping destinations that will leave you wanting more.


Why Choose Virginia for Camping?

Virginia is a prime destination for camping enthusiasts for a multitude of reasons. Its diverse landscapes, rich history, and abundance of outdoor activities make it an ideal choice for those seeking an unforgettable camping experience.


One of the main reasons to choose Virginia for camping is its diverse natural beauty. From the majestic peaks of the Shenandoah Mountains to the peaceful beaches along the Atlantic coastline, Virginia offers a wide range of landscapes to explore. Whether you prefer hiking through lush forests, swimming in crystal-clear lakes, or simply relaxing by a campfire under a starry sky, Virginia has it all.


In addition to its natural beauty, Virginia is steeped in history. As one of the original 13 colonies, the state is home to numerous historic sites and landmarks. Imagine camping near the Jamestown Settlement or exploring Colonial Williamsburg during the day, and then retreating to your campsite to unwind and reflect on the rich history you’ve encountered.


Virginia is also a paradise for outdoor adventurers. With its extensive network of trails, rivers, and mountains, there are countless opportunities for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and more. For thrill-seekers, the state offers adrenaline-pumping activities such as zip-lining, rock climbing, and white-water rafting.


Another reason to choose Virginia for camping is its vibrant wildlife. From the wild horses on Assateague Island to the abundance of bird species in the Great Dismal Swamp, nature lovers will be in awe of the diverse wildlife that calls Virginia home. Camping in these areas provides a unique opportunity to observe and appreciate the state’s flora and fauna up close.


Furthermore, Virginia’s strategic location on the East Coast provides easy access to other top destinations. It’s a perfect starting point for exploring nearby states like North Carolina and Maryland, as well as major cities like Washington D.C. and Richmond.


Lastly, Virginia’s welcoming and friendly atmosphere sets the stage for memorable camping experiences. Whether you choose to camp in a national park or a local campground, you’ll often find friendly neighbors and a sense of community, making your camping trip even more enjoyable.


So, whether you’re seeking adventure, history, natural beauty, or a combination of all three, Virginia offers an unbeatable camping destination. Pack your camping gear and prepare for an unforgettable journey through the heart of this extraordinary state.


Best Time to Go Camping in Virginia

Virginia’s diverse climate and changing seasons offer different opportunities for camping throughout the year. The best time to go camping in Virginia largely depends on the type of experience you’re looking for and the activities you want to enjoy.


Spring (March to May) is a popular time to go camping in Virginia. As the weather begins to warm up, the forests and meadows come alive with vibrant colors and blooming flowers. Spring is an ideal time for hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the many trails and parks across the state. However, keep in mind that spring can also bring unpredictable weather, so be prepared for occasional rain showers.


Summer (June to August) is the peak camping season in Virginia. The warm weather draws in campers from near and far, so popular campgrounds may get crowded. However, the summer months offer plenty of sunshine, perfect for swimming, fishing, and water activities in the numerous rivers, lakes, and coastal areas of Virginia. Just make sure to pack bug spray as mosquitoes can be prevalent during this time.


Fall (September to November) is arguably one of the best times to go camping in Virginia. The changing foliage transforms the state into a picturesque wonderland. The vibrant colors of red, orange, and yellow create a magical backdrop for your camping experience. Fall is also a great time for hiking and wildlife spotting, as many animals prepare for winter. Be sure to book your campsite in advance, as the fall foliage attracts visitors from all over.


Winter (December to February) brings a different kind of charm to camping in Virginia. While the weather can be cold, with occasional snowfall, it’s an excellent time for a peaceful retreat in nature. If you enjoy winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding, the mountainous regions of Virginia offer fantastic opportunities. Just remember to pack warm clothing and appropriate gear for cold weather conditions.


When planning your camping trip, it’s essential to check the weather forecast and any campground restrictions or closures. Keep in mind that popular campgrounds can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons and holidays, so advance reservations are highly recommended to secure your spot.


Whether you prefer the blossoming flowers of spring, the warm sun of summer, the vibrant foliage of fall, or the tranquility of winter, Virginia offers camping opportunities year-round. No matter the season, each has its own unique beauty that will make your camping experience in Virginia truly unforgettable.


Camping Gear Essentials

Before embarking on your camping trip in Virginia, it’s essential to have the right gear to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some camping gear essentials that you shouldn’t leave home without:

  1. Tent: A reliable tent is a must-have for camping in Virginia. Choose a tent that is spacious enough to accommodate your group and provides protection from the elements. Look for a tent with a rainfly to keep you dry during rainy weather.
  2. Sleeping Bag: Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag that suits the climate of Virginia. Look for a bag that offers sufficient insulation and comfort. Choose a sleeping bag with a temperature rating suitable for the expected weather conditions during your camping trip.
  3. Sleeping Pad or Air Mattress: To ensure a good night’s sleep, bring a sleeping pad or an air mattress. This will provide insulation from the cold ground and additional comfort while sleeping.
  4. Camp Stove and Cooking Equipment: Prepare delicious meals in the great outdoors with a camp stove. Ensure you have a fuel source and any necessary cooking equipment, such as pots, pans, utensils, and plates. Don’t forget to bring a cooler to store perishable food items.
  5. Headlamp or Flashlight: A reliable light source is essential for navigating your campsite at night. Pack a headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries to ensure you can see clearly in the dark.
  6. Camp Chairs: Comfortable and lightweight camp chairs are a great addition to your camping gear. They provide a comfortable place to relax around the campfire and enjoy the surrounding nature.
  7. Camping Kitchen and Utensils: Don’t forget to pack a camping kitchen set, including a portable stove, pots, pans, and utensils. Consider bringing a water filtration system for easy access to clean drinking water.
  8. Clothing and Footwear: Pack appropriate clothing for the expected weather conditions. Layering is key, as temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day and night. Bring sturdy and comfortable footwear for hiking and exploring the trails.
  9. First Aid Kit: Be prepared for any minor injuries or illnesses by packing a comprehensive first aid kit. Include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary medications.
  10. Navigation Tools: It’s crucial to have reliable navigation tools, especially if you plan on hiking or exploring the wilderness. Bring a map, compass, and GPS device to help you navigate trails and locate your campsite.
  11. Personal Hygiene Items: Don’t forget to pack personal hygiene items such as toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, and hand sanitizer. These will help keep you clean, protected, and comfortable during your camping trip.

Remember to pack your camping gear in durable and waterproof bags to protect them from the elements. It’s also a good idea to make a checklist before your trip to ensure you have all the essentials covered. By having the right gear, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy the beauty and adventure of camping in Virginia.


Top Campgrounds in Virginia

When it comes to camping in Virginia, there are numerous campgrounds that cater to a variety of preferences and interests. Whether you’re seeking a serene wilderness retreat or a family-friendly campground with amenities, Virginia has it all. Here are some of the top campgrounds in the state:

  1. Shenandoah National Park: Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park offers stunning views, abundant wildlife, and miles of hiking trails. The park features several campgrounds, including Big Meadows Campground and Mathews Arm Campground, which provide a rustic camping experience amidst the beauty of the mountains.
  2. George Washington and Jefferson National Forests: These expansive forests offer a plethora of camping options, from developed campgrounds to dispersed camping areas. Some popular campgrounds include Sherando Lake Recreation Area and Cave Mountain Lake. With their forested landscapes, scenic streams, and recreational activities, these campgrounds are perfect for nature lovers.
  3. Assateague Island National Seashore: As a unique barrier island located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Assateague Island offers a unique coastal camping experience. Its sandy beaches, salt marshes, and wild horses make it a popular destination for both camping and beach activities. The Chincoteague Island Campground and the Assateague Island State Park Campground are ideal for beachfront camping.
  4. Grayson Highlands State Park: Situated in the southwest part of the state, Grayson Highlands State Park is known for its breathtaking views, open meadows, and wild ponies. The park offers several camping options, including the Grayson Highlands State Park Campground. Hikers will also love the park’s proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the iconic Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia.
  5. Virginia Beach: For those seeking a beach camping experience, Virginia Beach has several campgrounds that provide easy access to the sandy shores and the bustling boardwalk. First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park offer camping options with beautiful waterfront views and opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing.
  6. Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Located in southeastern Virginia, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge offers a unique and tranquil camping experience. The refuge provides primitive camping sites for those looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the swamp, including Lake Drummond Campground. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching, hiking, and kayaking in this pristine wilderness.
  7. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge: Another popular camping destination on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for nature enthusiasts. With its vibrant marshes, dunes, and wildlife, it offers an unforgettable camping experience. The Tom’s Cove Park Campground is a well-known camping spot in this area.

These are just a few examples of the top campgrounds in Virginia. Each offers its own unique features and experiences, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your preferences and interests. Whether you’re seeking tranquility in the mountains, the serenity of the coast, or the thrill of encountering wildlife, camping in Virginia will leave you with cherished memories of your outdoor adventure.


Shenandoah National Park

Situated in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is a true gem for camping enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its vast wilderness, breathtaking vistas, and abundant wildlife, this park offers a memorable camping experience in the heart of nature.


Shenandoah National Park boasts several campgrounds, each with its own unique features and amenities.

  • Big Meadows Campground: Nestled in a picturesque meadow, this campground offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It provides a serene and peaceful camping experience with easy access to hiking trails, including the famous Appalachian Trail. The campground features tent and RV sites, as well as amenities such as restrooms, showers, and a camp store. Wildlife sightings, including deer and black bears, are common in this area.
  • Mathews Arm Campground: Located near the northern entrance of the park, this campground is ideal for those seeking a more secluded camping experience. Surrounded by dense forests and mountain streams, Mathews Arm Campground offers a peaceful retreat and easy access to hiking trails, including one leading to the stunning Overall Run Falls. The campground provides both tent and RV sites and features amenities such as restrooms and picnic tables.

Camping in Shenandoah National Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities and opportunities to explore its natural wonders.


Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park, with over 500 miles of trails to choose from. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a leisurely stroll or an experienced hiker seeking a challenging adventure, there is a trail for every skill level. The park’s trails offer breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant wildflowers.


For wildlife enthusiasts, Shenandoah National Park is a haven. The park is home to a diverse array of animals, including white-tailed deer, black bears, bobcats, and more than 200 bird species. Birdwatching and wildlife photography opportunities abound, especially in the early morning and late afternoon hours.


Along Skyline Drive, a scenic road that traverses the length of the park, visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. The drive features numerous overlooks where you can pause and admire the beauty of the mountains, valleys, and forests.


During the summer months, Shenandoah National Park hosts a variety of educational programs and ranger-led activities, including campfire talks, guided hikes, and stargazing events, providing an opportunity to learn more about the park’s natural and cultural history.


It’s important to note that due to the popularity of Shenandoah National Park, campsites can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons. It is recommended to make reservations well in advance to secure your preferred camping dates.


For an unforgettable camping adventure surrounded by nature’s beauty, Shenandoah National Park is a top choice. Whether you’re seeking solitude and tranquility or exciting outdoor activities, this park promises an immersive and memorable experience for campers of all ages and interests.


George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

Encompassing over 1.8 million acres of pristine wilderness, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests offer an unparalleled camping experience in Virginia. Named after two of America’s founding fathers, these interconnected forests span the mountains and valleys of western Virginia, providing endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.


The national forests boast a wide range of campgrounds that cater to various camping styles and preferences.

  • Sherando Lake Recreation Area: Located near Lyndhurst, Virginia, Sherando Lake Recreation Area is a popular camping destination within the George Washington National Forest. The campground offers both tent and RV sites near the picturesque Sherando Lake, providing opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating. The recreation area features picnic areas, hiking trails, and peaceful forest scenery.
  • Cave Mountain Lake: Situated near Natural Bridge, Virginia, Cave Mountain Lake campground is nestled in the heart of the George Washington National Forest. The campground offers a serene setting surrounded by lush forests and features lakefront campsites. Visitors can enjoy fishing, swimming, and non-motorized boating in the pristine Cave Mountain Lake. Hiking trails, picnic areas, and a nature center add to the appeal of this campground.

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are a haven for outdoor activities and adventures.


Hiking is a popular activity in the national forests, with a vast network of trails for all skill levels. From leisurely walks to challenging treks, hikers can explore scenic vistas, waterfalls, and diverse ecosystems throughout the forests. The Appalachian Trail, one of the most iconic long-distance trails in the United States, passes through the national forests, offering a chance to experience a section of this legendary path.


The forests also provide ample opportunities for fishing, hunting, and wildlife observation. With its abundant streams, rivers, and lakes, anglers can try their luck at catching trout, bass, and other freshwater fish species. Hunting is allowed in designated areas during the appropriate seasons and with the required permits. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot a variety of animals, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and black bears.


For those seeking a more adventurous experience, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests offer opportunities for rock climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The forests are crisscrossed with scenic byways and backroads, making them ideal for scenic drives and motorcycle tours.


Camping in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests allows visitors to truly immerse themselves in nature. The peacefulness of the forest, the soothing sound of the streams, and the starry night skies create an idyllic setting for a memorable camping experience. Many campgrounds offer basic amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets, allowing campers to enjoy a rustic outdoor experience.


It’s important to check for any necessary permits or restrictions before embarking on your camping trip to the national forests. Some areas may require reservations, and certain activities may have specific regulations.


Whether you’re an avid hiker, a fishing enthusiast, or simply seeking serenity in nature, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests offer a wealth of opportunities for camping and outdoor recreation. Experience the beauty and tranquility of these magnificent forests and create cherished memories amidst the stunning landscapes of western Virginia.


Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island National Seashore, located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, is a mesmerizing coastal strip renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant wildlife, and iconic wild horses. Camping at Assateague Island offers a unique and unforgettable experience that combines the beauty of the ocean with the opportunity to observe the fascinating natural inhabitants of this barrier island.


Assateague Island provides multiple camping options that cater to diverse preferences and camping styles.

  • Chincoteague Island Campground: Situated on the nearby Chincoteague Island, this private campground offers a variety of campsites, including tent sites, RV hook-ups, and cabin rentals. It provides easy access to the beach and is a great base for exploring the island and participating in water activities such as swimming, kayaking, and fishing.
  • Assateague Island State Park Campground: Located on the Maryland side of Assateague Island, this campground offers both tent and RV sites nestled among sand dunes and coastal marshes. Visitors can enjoy direct beach access, bike rentals, and scenic nature trails. The campground provides amenities such as restrooms, outdoor showers, and picnic tables.

Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore is a gateway to a world of outdoor adventures and natural wonders.


The pristine beaches of Assateague Island are a major highlight. With miles of untouched shoreline, visitors can enjoy sunbathing, beachcombing, and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The wild horses that roam freely on the island are a unique and iconic sight. Observing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is a memorable experience and a must-do while camping at Assateague Island.


Assateague Island is a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. The island is a crucial stopover for migratory birds along the Atlantic Flyway, attracting hundreds of species. Guided birdwatching tours and interpretive programs are available for visitors interested in learning more about the island’s avian residents. Additionally, the island’s marshes, forests, and dunes are home to a diverse array of plants and animals, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts.


Exploring Assateague Island’s waterways is another popular activity. Kayaking and canoeing allow visitors to glide through the calm waters of the bay, observing marine life and enjoying the serenity of the island’s surroundings. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines from the shore or join a charter boat excursion for a chance to catch striped bass, bluefish, and other prized species.


Throughout the year, Assateague Island National Seashore offers educational programs and ranger-led activities that delve into the island’s ecology, history, and cultural significance. From campfire talks to guided hikes, these programs provide a deeper understanding of the island’s natural wonders and its delicate ecosystem.


When camping at Assateague Island, it’s important to follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the island’s fragile ecosystem. Campers should also be mindful of the wild horses’ presence and maintain a safe distance to ensure their well-being and safety.


With its untouched beaches, abundant wildlife, and captivating wild horses, Assateague Island National Seashore offers a truly unique camping experience. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on the beach, wildlife encounters, or outdoor adventures, camping at Assateague Island will leave you with lasting memories of this captivating coastal paradise.


Grayson Highlands State Park

Tucked away in the southwestern part of Virginia, Grayson Highlands State Park is a hidden gem renowned for its breathtaking views, open meadows, and iconic wild ponies. Camping at Grayson Highlands State Park offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and explore a landscape reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.


Grayson Highlands State Park offers a tranquil camping experience amidst stunning surroundings. The park features a campground that provides both tent and RV sites, each offering a sense of seclusion and privacy amidst the park’s scenic beauty. Each campsite is equipped with a fire ring and picnic table, allowing campers to enjoy meals outdoors and cozy campfires under the starlit sky.


At Grayson Highlands State Park, nature takes center stage. Exploring the park’s extensive network of trails is a must-do activity for visitors. The park is best known for its connection to the iconic Appalachian Trail, which passes through the park. Hiking along this legendary trail offers breathtaking panoramic views, meandering through fields of wildflowers and idyllic forests.


One of the highlights of Grayson Highlands State Park is encountering the famous wild ponies that roam freely throughout the area. These beautiful creatures are descendants of horses used by early settlers and now contribute to the unique charm of the park. Visitors can observe and photograph the ponies in their natural habitat, creating a truly memorable experience.


Grayson Highlands State Park is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Rock climbers can tackle the challenging granite cliffs known as the Grayson Highlands Boulders, while mountain bikers can explore the park’s trails on wheels. Additionally, the park offers fishing opportunities in Wilson Creek for those seeking a peaceful angling experience.


The park’s landscapes are incredibly diverse. Head to the summit of Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia, for panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains. Venture through Rhododendron Gap, adorned with vibrant blooms in the late spring and early summer, creating a picturesque scene. Marvel at the cascading waterfalls along the trails, such as Cabin Creek Falls and Little Pinnacle Creek Falls.


Grayson Highlands State Park is also home to the annual Grayson Highlands Fall Festival, featuring live music, local crafts, and guided hikes. It’s a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the park’s vibrant atmosphere.


When planning a camping trip to Grayson Highlands State Park, it’s important to check the park’s website for any updates or trail closures. The park’s popularity means that campsites can fill up quickly during peak seasons, so it’s advisable to make reservations in advance to secure your spot.


Whether you’re seeking stunning vistas, encounters with wild ponies, or thrilling outdoor adventures, Grayson Highlands State Park offers a remarkable camping experience. It’s a place where nature’s wonders unfold at every step, leaving visitors with treasured memories of this remarkable corner of Virginia.


Virginia Beach

When it comes to combining a beach getaway with camping, Virginia Beach offers the perfect destination. This coastal city in Virginia is renowned for its beautiful sandy beaches, vibrant boardwalk, and an array of outdoor activities. Camping at Virginia Beach allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds – the relaxation of a beach vacation and the adventure of camping in nature.


Virginia Beach offers several campgrounds that provide a range of camping options to suit different preferences:

  • First Landing State Park: Located at the northern end of the Virginia Beach oceanfront, First Landing State Park offers a secluded and natural escape. The park features campsites nestled among the scenic maritime forests, just steps away from the Chesapeake Bay. Campers can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking on the park’s numerous trails, including the popular Cape Henry Trail.
  • False Cape State Park: Situated on the southern tip of Virginia Beach, False Cape State Park offers a remote and untouched camping experience. Accessible only by foot, bike, or boat, the park is a paradise for nature lovers. The campsites are located between the picturesque Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, allowing campers to enjoy both beach activities and wildlife sightings.

Camping at Virginia Beach offers a variety of activities and attractions for all ages and interests.


Virginia Beach is famous for its pristine sandy beaches, stretching for miles along the Atlantic coastline. Whether you’re looking to relax under the sun, take a refreshing dip in the ocean, or build sandcastles with the family, the beach provides endless opportunities for beachcombing and water activities.


The Virginia Beach Boardwalk, a three-mile long oceanfront promenade, is a must-visit attraction. Take a leisurely stroll or rent a bike to explore the boardwalk, lined with restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Neptune Statue, a symbol of the city.


For those interested in marine life, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center offers an interactive and educational experience. Explore the underwater world through exhibits featuring sharks, sea turtles, and other fascinating sea creatures.


Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, located just south of the city. This coastal refuge provides opportunities for birdwatching, kayaking, and hiking through scenic trails, allowing visitors to observe a variety of migratory birds and wildlife species.


Cultural and historical attractions also abound in Virginia Beach. Take a step back in time with a visit to the Cape Henry Lighthouse, the first lighthouse authorized by the federal government. Explore the Military Aviation Museum, which showcases a collection of vintage aircraft and tells the story of aviation history.


When camping at Virginia Beach, be sure to indulge in the local flavors. Sample fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, savor an ice cream cone on the boardwalk, or try local delicacies from the bustling food truck scene.


Whether you’re seeking relaxation, outdoor adventures, or cultural experiences, camping at Virginia Beach offers a perfect blend of coastal beauty and natural wonders. Create lasting memories as you unwind on sandy beaches, explore vibrant boardwalks, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this popular beach destination.


Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Escape to the tranquil wilderness of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, a hidden gem located in southeastern Virginia. With its vast expanse of marshes, forests, and waterways, this refuge offers a unique and immersive camping experience in the heart of nature.


The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge provides opportunities for camping in a serene and remote environment. The refuge offers primitive camping sites that are perfect for those seeking a back-to-nature experience. These sites allow campers to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and solitude of the swamp, away from the distractions of modern life.


Camping in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge opens up a world of outdoor adventures and natural wonders.


Exploring the swamp’s trails and boardwalks is a must-do activity for campers. The refuge features a network of trails that take visitors through dense forests, cypress swamps, and scenic wetlands. The Dismal Town State Natural Area provides an immersive experience, showcasing the historic remains of an 18th-century logging community.


The Great Dismal Swamp is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Over 200 species of birds call this refuge home, including bald eagles, ospreys, and numerous migratory songbirds. The diverse wetland habitats of the swamp are also home to a variety of mammals, such as black bears, bobcats, and river otters. Keep an eye out for these remarkable creatures as you explore the refuge’s trails and waterways.


For those interested in paddling and canoeing, the Great Dismal Swamp offers a unique opportunity to traverse its calm and reflective waters. The refuge features water trails that allow visitors to explore the swamp’s hidden corners and observe its intricate ecosystems up close. Canoe rentals are available for those who don’t have their own equipment.


Stargazing is a magical experience in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. With its remote location, the refuge offers minimal light pollution, providing optimal conditions for observing the night sky. On clear nights, campers can marvel at the countless stars, constellations, and even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way.


While camping in the Great Dismal Swamp, it’s important to come prepared. The primitive camping sites do not offer amenities such as restrooms or potable water, so campers should pack their own supplies and be self-sufficient. It’s also crucial to practice Leave No Trace principles to protect this fragile ecosystem.


Before your visit, make sure to check for any restrictions or closures on the refuge’s website, especially during the wetter seasons when some areas may be temporarily inaccessible.


Camping in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is an opportunity to disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with nature. It’s a chance to be surrounded by peacefulness, observe remarkable wildlife, and be humbled by the awe-inspiring beauty of one of Virginia’s hidden treasures.


Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

Immerse yourself in the natural splendor of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, nestled on the picturesque Chincoteague Island of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. This pristine and diverse refuge is a paradise for nature lovers and offers a unique camping experience amidst stunning coastal landscapes.


Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge provides various camping options that allow visitors to fully embrace the beauty of this enchanting island:

  • Toms Cove Park Campground: Situated on the northern end of Chincoteague Island, Toms Cove Park Campground offers both tent and RV sites with picturesque waterfront views. Campers can enjoy stunning sunsets, abundant birdwatching opportunities, and easy access to the beach. The campground provides amenities such as restrooms, showers, and a camp store.

Camping in Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge opens the door to a world of natural wonders and outdoor adventures.


Chincoteague Island is renowned for its resident population of wild ponies, made famous by Marguerite Henry’s novel “Misty of Chincoteague.” These magnificent creatures can often be spotted in the refuge’s marshes and grasslands. Witnessing the wild ponies roaming freely in their natural habitat is a truly magical experience.


The refuge is a haven for birdwatchers, as it attracts a wide variety of migratory and resident bird species. With diverse habitats ranging from marshes to forests, visitors have an opportunity to spot bald eagles, herons, egrets, and many other stunning bird species. The refuge offers designated wildlife observation platforms and a Wildlife Loop Drive for optimal birdwatching opportunities.


Exploring the refuge’s trails and paddling through its waterways are popular activities among campers. The Wildlife Loop, Woodland Trail, and Beach Access Road showcase the refuge’s diverse ecosystems and offer opportunities for wildlife observation. Visitors can also rent kayaks or join guided kayak tours to explore the scenic marshes and waterways surrounding the island.


Chincoteague Island is known for its pristine beaches, offering a tranquil escape and endless opportunities for swimming, beachcombing, and sandcastle building. The refuge’s designated wildlife viewing areas provide a chance to observe shorebirds, dolphins, and other marine life along the shore.


For a deeper understanding of the island’s unique ecosystem, visitors can explore the Herbert H. Bateman Education and Administrative Center, which features exhibits on Chincoteague’s wildlife, history, and conservation efforts. Ranger-led programs and guided walks provide educational opportunities for all ages.


When camping at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, be sure to adhere to Leave No Trace principles and respect the refuge’s rules and regulations. It’s important to protect the delicate ecosystems and the wildlife that call Chincoteague home.


Before planning your camping trip, check the refuge’s website for any updates or alerts, as some areas or trails may be temporarily closed for conservation purposes or wildlife protection.


With its captivating landscapes, abundant wildlife, and a charming island atmosphere, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge offers a truly immersive camping experience. Campers can connect with nature, witness extraordinary wildlife encounters, and create cherished memories in this remarkable coastal sanctuary.


Tips for a Successful Camping Trip in Virginia

Camping in Virginia offers incredible opportunities to connect with nature and create lasting memories. To ensure a successful camping trip, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Plan and Reserve in Advance: Popular campgrounds in Virginia can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons. It’s advisable to plan your trip in advance and make reservations for campsites to secure your preferred dates.
  • Pack Accordingly: Check the weather forecast for your camping dates and pack appropriate clothing layers, including rain gear. Don’t forget essentials like camping gear, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. Pack food, snacks, and plenty of water for your trip.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Campground Rules: Each campground has its own set of rules and regulations. Be sure to review and follow them to ensure a safe and respectful camping experience for yourself and others.
  • Arrive During Daylight: Aim to arrive at your campsite during daylight hours to set up camp and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. This will make the process easier and more enjoyable.
  • Respect Wildlife: Virginia is home to diverse wildlife, and encounters are possible during your camping trip. Remember to keep a safe distance, refrain from feeding animals, and properly store your food to prevent unwanted wildlife interactions.
  • Fire Safety: Before starting a campfire, check if fires are permitted and abide by any fire regulations. Keep fires in designated fire rings or pits, and never leave them unattended. Ensure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving the site or going to bed.
  • Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by respecting nature and leaving your campsite as you found it. Dispose of trash properly and minimize your impact on the environment.
  • Be Prepared for Outdoor Activities: Research and plan outdoor activities in advance. Bring appropriate gear for hiking, biking, fishing, or other activities you plan to enjoy during your camping trip.
  • Keep Emergency Contacts and Information: Make a note of emergency contact numbers, nearest hospitals, and campground information in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
  • Respect Quiet Hours: Be considerate of other campers and adhere to quiet hours specified by the campground. Respect the tranquility of the natural surroundings.
  • Follow Leave No Trace Principles: Pack out all trash and dispose of waste properly. Avoid disturbing flora and fauna, and minimize your impact on the environment.
  • Enjoy and Appreciate the Natural Beauty: Take the time to immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and natural beauty that Virginia has to offer. Disconnect from technology and embrace the serenity and rejuvenation that comes with camping in nature.

By following these tips, you can ensure a successful camping trip in Virginia and make the most of your time in the great outdoors. So, pack your gear, embrace the adventure, and create unforgettable memories in the beautiful camping destinations of Virginia.


Safety Tips for Camping in Virginia

While camping in Virginia can be a wonderful and rewarding experience, it’s important to prioritize safety to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Research and Plan: Familiarize yourself with the camping area, including any potential hazards, regulations, and weather conditions. Plan your activities and routes in advance to minimize risks.
  • Inform Others: Let family or friends know about your camping plans, including the location and duration of your trip. Provide them with emergency contact information and your expected return date.
  • Pack a First Aid Kit: Carry a well-stocked first aid kit that includes essential items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, insect repellent, and any necessary medications. Be prepared for minor injuries and ailments that may occur during your camping trip.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather or when engaging in physical activities. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and other health concerns.
  • Practice Campfire Safety: Follow campground regulations regarding campfires. Keep fires contained within designated fire rings or pits, never leave them unattended, and fully extinguish them before leaving your campsite or going to bed.
  • Be Bear Aware: Virginia is home to black bears, particularly in mountainous areas. Store your food securely in bear-proof containers or hang it from a high branch, away from your sleeping area. Keep a clean campsite and dispose of trash properly to avoid attracting wildlife.
  • Protect Against Ticks: Virginia is known for its tick population, so take precautions to protect against tick bites. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and insect repellent containing DEET. Conduct regular tick checks after spending time outdoors.
  • Follow Water Safety Measures: If engaging in water activities, practice water safety protocols. Wear life jackets, especially in non-swimming areas or when boating. Be mindful of current conditions and avoid swimming alone or in unsafe areas.
  • Stay Aware of Weather Conditions: Depending on the season, weather in Virginia can be unpredictable. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes. Take shelter during storms and avoid camping near trees during severe weather.
  • Respect Wildlife: Admire wildlife from a safe distance and avoid approaching or feeding wild animals. Maintain a respectful distance to prevent conflicts and minimize the risk of injury to yourself and the animals.
  • Use Caution with Outdoor Cooking: Follow safe cooking practices to prevent accidents and foodborne illnesses. Keep cooking areas clean, use proper cooking utensils, and ensure that fires and stoves are fully extinguished before leaving the area.

By prioritizing safety and taking necessary precautions during your camping trip in Virginia, you can enjoy a worry-free and memorable outdoor experience. Stay alert, be prepared, and make the most of your time exploring the beautiful wilderness of Virginia.



Camping in Virginia provides a gateway to extraordinary natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and unforgettable outdoor adventures. Whether you choose to explore the scenic mountains of Shenandoah National Park, immerse yourself in the coastal wonders of Assateague Island, or unwind on the serene beaches of Virginia Beach, the state offers a plethora of camping destinations to suit all preferences and interests.


By choosing Virginia for your camping trip, you have the opportunity to connect with nature, discover the state’s rich history and culture, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. From the stunning vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tranquil marshes of the Great Dismal Swamp, each corner of Virginia offers a unique and immersive camping experience.


As you embark on your camping adventure, it’s essential to plan ahead, pack the necessary gear, and ensure your safety and the preservation of the stunning natural environments you’ll encounter. Follow safety guidelines, practice Leave No Trace principles, and respect wildlife and fellow campers.


Take advantage of the diverse recreational opportunities that Virginia offers, from hiking and biking to swimming and wildlife spotting. Explore the trails, paddle through waterways, and immerse yourself in the wonders of Virginia’s great outdoors.


Whether it’s the captivating landscapes, the rich history, or the warm hospitality of the local communities, camping in Virginia promises an experience that will leave you refreshed, rejuvenated, and longing for more. So, pack your camping gear, prepare for adventure, and discover the beauty and serenity that await you in the remarkable camping destinations of Virginia.