Pack the RV and head out to Belle Isle State Park, one of the most scenic state parks in Virginia. Located in the middle of farming country, this majestic park is full of tidal wetlands and is home to the Rappahannock River. Its seven-mile-long shoreline is perfect for boating and fishing. Camp at the spacious, well-maintained, campground or enjoy hiking, biking trails, or a walk on the boardwalk while exploring the marsh life. The park has eight distinct types of wetlands to explore, and visitors with keen eyes may catch a glimpse of the blue herons or ospreys that call the park home.
The natural environment covers 892 acres and is a wonderful outdoor laboratory for anyone interested in learning about wetland ecosystems. Open to all visitors, the park is praised for its ADA-accessibility. Reservations during the season are a must as there are a limited number of campsites available. Fourteen of the sites are reservable, but all the remaining sites are first-come, first-served. Spots fill up fast. Take a break from the daily routine and visit this quiet gem of a state park in Lancaster, Virginia.
Located in the Chesapeake Bay tidal region, the park is less than three hours from the metro areas of Washington, D.C., Richmond, and Norfolk. The distance makes the park the perfect destination for a day or weekend RV camping trip. While traveling to Belle Isle State Park, visitors will want to make sure that the GPS is navigating to Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster County, Virginia and not Belle Isle in the James River near Richmond, Virginia.
Once inside of the park, RVers should have little difficulty traveling to their campsite. All of the major roads in the park are paved. However, RVers will want to take it slow as some of the roads have long curves and turns that could cause problems if taken too fast.
At this park, RVers will want to note that there are two camping loops. At the campground, guests can reserve one of the 14 gravel sites that are designed to accommodate RVs. The largest pad can accommodate an RV up to 148 feet. Campers who plan to rent one of the lakeside sites will need to back the rig into the space. Campers who want to have fun on the lake should ask the Belle Isle State Park staff which of the lakeside campsites has the best water access before reserving their RV or travel trailer spot.
This full-service campground has a total of 28 spacious sites that each include electric and water hookups, a fire ring, a picnic table, and a lantern hanger. Fourteen of these sites are available by reservation only. There is a limit of two vehicles per campsite. Any other vehicles will have to park in the general parking lot and pay the parking fee.
The campground also includes several amenities. The full-service bathhouse offers hot showers, a wash sink for dishes, and laundry facilities. Belle Isle State Park also provides a free dump station for those who are camping in the park, but non-overnight guests must pay to use the station. Additionally, overnight guests can use the boat launch for free.
Other campground amenities include the camp store where visitors can obtain any supplies they may have forgotten, as well as firewood. Be aware that bringing in firewood from outside of the park is not permitted. The campground is open from March to December.
Half of the 28 campsites at Belle Isle State Park are open on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors who want to take a spontaneous trip can try their luck at getting a campsite, but be aware that spots fill up fast during the peak season. All of these sites are equipped with electric and water hookups as well as a picnic table fire ring. Campers can also enjoy the campground amenities which include laundry facilities, restrooms with hot showers, a dump station, and the camp store.
Guests can hike-in or boat-in to this campground and enjoy one of the four primitive camping sites. Each site can accommodate up to six people. Campers should be aware that the campsites are fairly close together and all four share the fire ring/grill, two picnic tables, and two benches. A portable toilet is available, but there is no water or electricity on the grounds. Campers will need to make sure that they bring enough water for themselves and their cooking needs.
Larger camping groups may be interested in reserving the Belle Isle Bunkhouse. This large camping lodge has three bedrooms and can sleep up to 14 people. The bunkhouse has electrical outlets, but it does not include a kitchen or bathroom. Campers who are staying in the bunkhouse are permitted to use the campground bathhouse during their stay. Be aware that the bunkhouse is not equipped with heating or air conditioning.
This 33-acre area includes the historic Pollard Family home known as the Bel Air House and the slightly smaller Bel Air Guest House. These two buildings can be rented simultaneously or individually. This secluded nature of this area along with its stunning peninsula views makes it well-suited for family reunions or special events such as weddings. Linens are provided for about six guests in each building. Any additional guests will need to bring their own. Smoking is not allowed in either building.
Enjoy a stress-free hike or walk on one of the many great trails in Belle Isle State Park. These pathways link together so that hikers can explore up to 10 miles of trails, many of which wind through luscious open fields. Enjoy great views of the waterways, and plan to take a walk on the boardwalk sometime during the trip. Many visitors find the trails to be very navigable and well-identified with plenty of markers and maps.
Interested in history? Belle Isle State Park has much to offer. Explore the plantation grounds on a wagon tour of the Historic Belle Isle Mansion. Built in 1760 and restored in the 1940s, the house, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, is privately owned but daily tours are permitted. Pre-registration is recommended, and there is a fee for the tour so guests will want to check with the park office when making their reservation.
Load up the RV, pack a picnic dinner, and come enjoy music in the summertime by the Rappahannock River. Held during the summer months, this concert series is a mix of familiar favorites along with a few new sounds to add to the favorites playlist. Entrance to the concert is free but there is a parking fee per car. Since the park is family-friendly, there are also ranger-led games for kids and free freshly-popped popcorn for all.
A perfect opportunity to explore with the RV is an activity known as "leaf peeping." This is when people come to see and photograph the changing of the leaves in Virginia. Popular from late September through November, visitors from all over the country travel to this area to watch the beauty of nature unfold into vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. Guests can take in the breathtaking colors while hiking the trails at Belle Isle State Park or by taking an afternoon drive through the park in their campervan.
Held in October, this one-day event is filled with activities that visitors of all ages would enjoy. Take part in a trick-or-treat trail, a giant apple slingshot, or wagon rides with the family. Visitors can test out their artistic skills by carving a pumpkin for a small donation per pumpkin. Dress up in costume for a costume contest or check out more activities in the picnic area. With so many fun fall-themed activities, guests won’t want to miss this annual fall event!
Need plans for spring break? Come hike, bike, and stomp in the mud with teens by participating in the Future Naturalist Program during Spring Break. Meant for ages 13-17, the program is free but does require pre-event registration. During this annual program, local experts lead activities to engage students while teaching them about environmental stewardship, how to identify plants and animals, as well as the best places for observing nature in the Northern Neck of Virginia.