Claytor Lake is a beautiful 4,472-acre lake made 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. It provides 472 acres of land that includes trails, a Visitor Center, an aquatic center, a full marina, hidden geocaches, and many more activities for the whole family to enjoy like the tours given by the Boy Scouts of America. The lake has become a popular fishing spot for RV campers. The fishing pier and trails are ADA accessible, and the trails make it easy for you to take a stroll along the lakeshore or find your way through the canopy of trees that cover the trails.
Four different campgrounds accommodate RV camping, and while the park is open all year, the campgrounds are only fully-operational between March through December. During the winter months, the park remains open, but water hookups may be turned off if it gets below freezing. All of the RV spaces have leveled lots with prime views of the beautiful Claytor Lake, which are similar views that cabin campers can experience.
Claytor Lake State Park also offers event planning such as weddings, reunions, or just a summer get-together, so no matter what you do here, you will enjoy the simple life of a Virginia State Park when you come here for a relaxing camping trip.
Located three miles off I-81 and an hour from Roanoke, Claytor Lake State Park is wonderfully tucked away from the busy city life. You can reach the park from several different roads, including VA-232 from the east, VA-605 from the south, VA-611 from the north, or VA-672 from the west. The entrance to the park is at the end of the State Park Road, with a large 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 road leading into the park is paved with some potholes that may jostle you as you drive. You can use your bike or walk around the park 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 get some snacks and other essentials. 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.
Wytheville, VA is a small town with scenic views and plenty of historic and natural attractions to explore. Half an hour away is the Fancy Gap entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Twenty miles north and you step into the Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum. Bring rigs up to 78 feet to Wytheville KOA and you'll find deluxe patio sites with full hookups, up to 50-amp service, a fire pit, and a picnic table, or wooded water/electric spots close to the Kamping Kitchen. Wi-Fi and cable TV are on offer along with a snack bar, pool, mini-golf, and a dog park. Firewood and propane are also available on-site.
There are 25 campsites in Campground A that can fit trailers and RVs less than 20 feet. No hookups are provided, and generator use is not allowed. A dumping station is located nearby for disposing of any waste you may have. The sites are leveled with gravel beds and partially shaded, but you won’t have much privacy from your neighbors here. Each campsite has its own picnic table and a fire ring with a grill for cooking. You can also find modern restrooms, water spigots, and showers with hot water.
Half of the sites at this campground can be reserved, while the other half are available for walk-ins only. However, spots fill up fast, so reservations are recommended. Each campsite is allowed to have two vehicles in addition to their camping unit. You can also bring your pooch, but it will need to be supervised and restrained at all times during your visit.
Campground B has 28 sites that can fit trailers or RVs less than 20 feet, but there are no hookups here. There is a dumping station nearby for you to dispose of any waste you may have. Fire pits and picnic tables are provided at each campsite. You can also find modern restrooms with flushable toilets, drinking water spigots, and hot showers. You’ll have a bit of seclusion from your neighbors, and you can appreciate this beautiful campground with its towering trees and proximity to the trails.
Some 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. Bringing in wood is not permitted due to pests and disease, but you can get a bundle or two from the park staff. Spots fill up very fast, so it is best to reserve a spot as early as possible. Pets are allowed here if you keep them restrained and supervised while you are here. If you’ve decided that this kind of camping is not what you’re looking for, there are also yurts available at Campground B.
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’ll get a little bit of seclusion away from your neighbors thanks to the abundance of shrubbery and trees. Half of the spaces are for reservations only, while the other half are for walk-ins. With the limited number of spaces, though, it is best to make a reservation well in advance.
Each campsite allows two vehicles in addition to the camping unit. You’ll have a fire ring with a grill and a picnic table at the campsite for your convenience. Other amenities include potable water spigots, hot showers, and restrooms. You cannot bring your own wood, but the park does provide firewood for those who need it. Furbabies are welcome as long as you keep them restrained and supervise them during your stay.
Campground D has 40 sites and is ideal for the larger RVs, as it can fit RVs and trailers that are up to 35 feet long. This is the best campground for RVs, as it offers electric and water hookups. There are no sewer hookups here, but an RV dumping site is available for use. These 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 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 not allowed to bring in your own wood, but you can get some from the park staff if you ask. Each campsite allows two vehicles in addition to a camping unit. 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.
All of the campgrounds at Claytor Lake State Park have a mix of reservation spaces and first-come, first-served sites. Each campground offers a different number of walk-in camping spaces, so once you've determined which campground suits your needs, find out how many first-come, first-served sites are open for camping, and plan your trip accordingly.
Geocaching is a simple hunt for treasure that all ages can enjoy together. Claytor Lake State Park offers a geocaching tour along with its regularly-scheduled 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. Bring a pen or pencil to sign the logbook as well as a cell phone enabled with GPS. You can also bring a trinket or small toy if you plan on taking one from the geocache. Also, make sure you put the cache back exactly where you found it so others can find it too.
Don't forget to pack your binoculars in your rig since Virginia is home to 422 kinds of birds that flourish here all year long. You’ll be able to see many species all along the trails and shoreline. The trails are a perfect way to spot some of the various birds in their own habitat. Try to learn about new birds you see by looking them up online or getting a brochure from the Visitor Center. Make sure you bring a camera so you can get some photos to share on your favorite social media site.
Claytor Lake is stocked with bass of several varieties, muskies, walleyes, crappies, bluegill, catfish, and perch. Several record catches have been recorded here, with some weighing over 45 pounds, but to reel in a fish that large, you may need to get out to the deep water for those lunkers. If you do not have a boat, then you can rent one from the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center also offers bait, gasoline, boat rental slips, and rods. You can keep your boat at the docks for a maximum of 14 days. Every 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. You’ll need a Virginia fishing license, which you can get at the Visitor Center as well.
Take a ride up the road to Radford, which is about nine miles up VA-232. Admission is free, parking is free, and learning is free. This post-Civil War mansion used to be the home of General Gabe Wharton. You can learn all about the history of the New River Valley from Native American times until the settlers came to town. This site is actually home to three museums, which include the Gallery, with work from local artists; the History Museum, which highlights the history of events and people in the area; and the House Museum, which teaches you the history of the Wharton family. Stopping here is a fun way to spend a chilly or rainy day.
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’ll find six trails at Claytor Lake State Park that range from easy to moderate. In fact, all of the trails are easy except for one, which is considered to be moderate but only because of its length. That is the two-mile Hidden Valley Trail, which takes you from the Claytor Lake Trailhead along the lake through the woods and along the boundary of the park to the parking lot near Campground C. The Lakeview Trail is ADA accessible and meanders for almost one mile along the lakeshore. The other trails offer a variety of lengths for you to explore with your family.
Before heading to Claytor Lake State Park, make sure you put the beach toys and floats in the RV. Starting the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, the guarded beach is a family-friendly way to spend a summer day. 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 Visitor Center.
Pack those water skis in the rig before leaving for the lake because even if you don’t have a boat, you can rent one at Claytor Lake State Park. The park has several different types of boats you can choose from that will help you get those skis wet. Of course, you can bring your own boat too, if you have one. Jet skiing is fun too. It’s just like skiing, but you are sitting down, and you don’t need a boat to pull you. Actually, it’s more like riding a motorcycle in the water. Just try it, you’ll love it!