Claytor Lake is a beautiful 4,472-acre lake built in the 1940s by the creation of the Claytor Dam. The dam and lake were named after the vice president of the Appalachian Power Company, W. Graham Claytor Sr. In 1944, the citizens grew interested in making a state park near the lake and by 1946, a private firm gathered the money to buy 437 acres of land and give it to the Virginia government for the creation of Claytor Lake State Park.
The park runs along three miles of the lake’s shoreline and provides 472 acres that include trails, the visitor center, aquatic center, full marina, geocache opportunities, and many more activities for the whole family to enjoy. The lake has become a popular fishing spot for RV campers that is open all year long. In the winter months, the park remains open but water hookups may be turned off due to the weather. The summer offers swimming and tours from the Boy Scout of America near the Aquatic Base.
There are four campsites that accommodate RV camping. While the park is open all year, the campgrounds are open from March to December. Claytor Lake State Park also offers event planning such as weddings, reunions, or just a summer get-together. The fishing pier and trails are handicap accessible and the park offers leveled lots with prime view of the beautiful Claytor Lake from the cabins and campsites. You can take a stroll along the lakeshore or find your way through the canopy of trees that cover the trails. Enjoy the simple life of a Virginia State Park when you bring your RV for a relaxing camping trip.
RV Rentals in Claytor Lake State Park
Transportation in Claytor Lake State Park
Located three miles off I-18 and an hour from Roanoke, Claytor Lake State Park is wonderfully tucked away from the busy city life. The entrance to the park is at the end of the State Park Road with a lovely sign welcoming you for the length of your stay. The visitor center is on the first left turn from the entrance where you can check in and pick up a map of the park. The first turn on your right after entering the park will lead you to the campgrounds.
The roads leading into the park is paved with minimum potholes that may jostle you as you drive. You can use your bike or walk around the park in order to experience the full beauty of it all. Those who have boats can use one of the many boating docks along the lake shoreline. On your way to the park, a shopping center is located 10 miles away, where you can pick up groceries and other essentials that you may need. There are a few nearby towns like Pulaski, Newbern, and Harper where you can stop by to go shopping or spend an evening dining out. Claytor Lake State Park is busier on weekdays during the summer and fall, so there are more spots available for RVs and trailers, but these spots are taken up quickly. In the winter and spring, the park is still open, but the water is turned off to prevent the pipes from bursting.
The park enjoys a warm summer with temperatures in the 80s to 90s. A cool breeze blows off the lake, cooling the park on hot days. In the rainy season, the park may close due to inclement weather. Be sure to call ahead in case of park closure. If you plan to arrive later than anticipated, please call ahead of your arrival so that one of the rangers can meet you at the gate to help you check in.
Campgrounds and parking in Claytor Lake State Park
Campsites in Claytor Lake State Park
Campground C is located along the Shady Ridge Trail and only offers 12 sites that can fit RVs and trailers less than 20 feet. There are no hookups here but a dumping station is nearby. The sites vary from level to hilly and the trees provide plenty of shade. You will have some privacy from your neighbor thanks to the abundance of trees and shrubs. Half of the spaces are for reservations only, while the other half are for walk-ins. With the limited number of spaces though, this campground belongs in the Reservations category. Each campsite allows two vehicles in addition to the camping unit. Amenities included are a fire ring, hot showers, picnic tables, and restrooms. You are prohibited from bringing your own firewood, but the park does provide firewood for those who need it. You are allowed to stay a maximum of 14 days and can reserve a spot up to 11 months in advance. Reservations fill up very quickly, especially in the summer so be sure to book in advance, otherwise your campsite cannot be guaranteed.
Campground D has 40 sites and is more ideal for the larger RVs, as it can fit RVs and trailers that are up to 35-foot long. This is the best campground for RVs, as it offers water and electric hookups. There are no sewer hookups here but a dumping station is nearby for you to dispose of your waste. The sites are leveled with gravel bedding and the trees surrounding them provide plenty of shade from the summer’s glaring sun. The sites are close together, so you won’t have much privacy unless you visit when the park has a few campers. Half of the sites are pull-through, while the other half offers a back-in option.
Amenities include hot showers, picnic tables, restrooms, and a fire ring. You are prohibited from bringing your own firewood, but you can get some from the park staff if you ask. Each campsite allows two vehicles in addition to a camping unit. You may stay a maximum of 14 days and can reserve a spot up to 11 months in advance. If you want a summer or spring spot then please reserve your spot at least six months in advance otherwise your campsite cannot be guaranteed.
There are 25 campsites in Campground A that can fit trailers and RVs less than 20 feet. No hookups are provided and you are not allowed to use a generator. A dumping station is located nearby for disposing of any waste you may have. The sites are leveled with gravel beds and partially shaded. You may have some privacy from your neighbor, but that’s not guaranteed due to the lack of trees in this campground.
Amenities include a fire ring, hot showers, picnic tables, and restrooms. The gathering of firewood and bringing your own firewood is prohibited, but you are allowed to buy firewood from the park. Half of the sites at this campground can be reserved, while other half are available for walk-ins only, earning its spot under first-come, first-served. Each campsite is allowed to have two vehicles in addition to their camping unit. You can stay a maximum of 14 nights and may reserve a spot up to 11 months in advance. Spots for spring and summer fill up very quickly, so it is recommended that you reserve your spot at least six months in advance otherwise your campsite cannot be guaranteed.
Campground B (Yurts Available)
Campground B has 28 sites that can fit trailers or RVs less than 20 feet, but there are no hookups whatsoever here. There is a dumping station nearby for you to dispose of any waste you may have. Amenities include a fire ring, hot showers, picnic tables, and restrooms. If you’ve decided that this kind of camping is not what you’re looking for, there are also yurts available at Campground B. You may have some privacy from your neighbor and you can appreciate this beautiful campground with its large trees and close proximity to the trails. A percentage of the sites are reservation only, while the other half are for walk-ins. Each campsite allows you to have two vehicles in addition to your camping unit. You are not allowed to bring your own firewood, but you can get some from the park staff. You can stay a limit of 14 days and can reserve a spot up to 11 months in advance. Spots fill up very fast so please reserve your spot at least six months in advance.
Seasonal activities in Claytor Lake State Park
Starting the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, the guarded beach is open for the whole family to enjoy. There is a small fee associated with the swimming area, but it comes with a snack bar, gift shop, and a diving tower. Operating hours on the weekend are different from the weekdays, but you can find a schedule in the park’s visitors center. Inclement weather may cause the swimming area to close until the forecast improves. Unfortunately, your pets are not allowed in this area, but you can take them on the trails with you as long as they stay on their leash. Remember to bring your sunscreen and bathing suit with you in the rig when you go so you don't miss out on the fun.
There is a total of six trails in the park ranging from easy to moderate. One of the trails is handicap accessible and treks one mile along the lakeshore. The other trails offer a variety of lengths for you to explore with your family. If you want a challenge, try the Hidden Valley Trail near Campground A, which is a two-mile trail but four miles round trip. When hiking on the trails, please stay on the trails and pick up any litter you may find. You can take your pet on the trails, just be sure to clean up after them. Remember to bring your water bottle and pack a sturdy pair of hiking boots in your camper to make your journey easier.
All the trails used for hiking serve the dual purpose as a biking trail. Look out for others that are walking on the trails and go at a steady pace. Some of the trails may offer a shift in elevation to challenge your calf muscles. Remember to wear your helmet and bring water with you on your ride. You can take the trail near Hidden Valley Loop and stop by the lookout point close to the boat ramp. You will be able to see a beautiful view of Claytor Lake.
You are required to have a fishing license to fish in the park and can pick one up from the visitor’s center or online. If you do not have a boat, then you can rent one from the visitor’s center. The visitor center also offers bait, gasoline, license, boat rental slips, and rods. You can keep your boat at the docks for a maximum of 14 days. Each year in November the lake is lowered for two weeks for maintenance, making it almost impossible to fish or launch your boat, so be sure to ask the park staff about the dates. Claytor Lake is stocked with bass of several varieties, crappies, bluegill, catfish, and perch. There are several record catches that have been recorded weighing over 45 pounds.
Don't forget to pack your binoculars in your rig since Virginia is home 422 species of birds year-round. You can spot different birds along the shoreline and the trails as you go. Pay close attention to the different types of birds and where they build their nests. Many of the trails offer prime habitat for the morning dove, downy woodpecker, and many more. Remember to pack a sturdy pair of walking boots if you plan to do a day of birding then explore the Hidden Valley Trail and pack a snack and some water with you for safety measures.
Geocaching is a simple hunt for treasure that all ages can enjoy together. Claytor Lake State Park offers a geocaching tour along with regular activities. If you plan on doing some self-exploration with a simple geocache game, then you will need to stock up on supplies before you depart. You will need your inner pirate, a pen or pencil, sturdy walking boots, a device with GPS capabilities, a water bottle and your own personal treasure to trade. Before you go explore make sure you know the rules of how to log your cache. Leave each area undisturbed as you found it to keep the adventure alive for the next visitor.