Named after the indigenous people that once inhabited the area, Occoneechee State Park is an outdoor oasis for locals and out of towners alike. The name is a bit of a tongue twister for non-locals, but don't let that deter you from visiting this southern Virginian park. You'll find plenty of recreational opportunities, a large RV campground, and a rich history to boot. The land once flourished as a trade hub, but after Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, the Native Americans were forced to head further south. A plantation was then built on the land in 1839, and although it burned a few decades later, you can still walk a trail that leads around the area where the property once stood. By 1947, a dam was built to create Buggs Island Lake -- the largest lake in the state. The park opened its doors in 1968 and has since served as a place for family and friends to gather and enjoy the unspoiled nature of the area.
Buggs Island Lake is the main attraction at Occoneechee, and you could spend a whole afternoon (or two) boating or fishing on the serene water. If you prefer to keep your feet planted on solid ground, there are over 20 miles of trails available to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. During the warm summer months, you can cool off at the Splash Splay Ground, or hunker down at one of the shaded picnic shelters.
If one day at Occoneechee State Park simply wasn't enough, you can park the RV rental in one of 48 campsites, or you can choose to stay in style in a lodge, cabin, or yurt. There's no bad time to visit Occoneechee, as the park is open year-round, and campsites are available from March through December.
Occoneechee State Park is located in Mecklenburg County in south-central Virginia on the shores of the John H. Kerr Reservoir, better known as Buggs Island Lake. The park is just minutes from the North Carolina border, and major routes like US-15 and US-58 are right outside the park entrance. Although a few gradual inclines are present on these roads, even those with large RVs should have no trouble accessing the park. Should you need to stop for a bite to eat, gas up the motorhome, or stock up on supplies before your camping trip, the town of Clarksville sits opposite the park off of US-15.
The park roads will lead you to the main points of interest, including the campground, cabins and lodges, boat ramps, and various hiking trails. The campground isn't far from the entrance, and once you've set up camp, you can explore the park and its trails by foot, bike, or horseback.
If you're not staying overnight, there is plenty of additional parking, with lots available near the boat launches, the marina, the picnicking area, and multiple trailheads, among others.
Occoneechee State Park's campground is equipped with 48 RV- and trailer-friendly sites. Some sites are basic with no hookups, while others are waterfront sites with water and electric hookups. No matter which site you choose, you'll find a picnic table and firepit, and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers are nearby. There is also a dump station and plenty of parking at the campground. Max RV length varies from 30 to 35 feet, depending on the site.
About half the sites can be selected in advance, while the other half are assigned upon arrival. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Campground Loop B is open from May through October, and Loop C is available from March through December.
If you're not one for planning, you'll be glad to hear that Occoneechee State Park keeps about half of its 48 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you enter the park, you can check with the office to see if there are any spaces available.
The park campground offers basic sites with no hookups and sites that are equipped with water and electricity. There are also picnic tables and fire rings at each site, and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers can be found inside the campground.
If you're hoping to snag an unreserved spot, arrive at the park plenty early, as sites fill up quickly -- especially during peak season.
Those looking to get out of the campervan for a night or two can rent one of the park's 11 cabins or two lodges, depending on how big your group is. The cabins have one, two, or three bedrooms, while the lodges each have six.
Both cabins and lodges are equipped with modern conveniences like full kitchens, indoor plumbing, and climate control. Guests will also find a fireplace with a complimentary bundle of wood, a wrap-around deck, and a picnic table and a charcoal grill outside. One set of linens and towels per person will be readily available, but guests will want to bring their own food, coffee, and whatever other supplies deemed necessary.
For an extra fee, pets are allowed in all cabins and lodges. The cabins and lodges are both available year-round, with reservations available up to 11 months in advance.
In addition to the cabins and lodges, Occoneeche State Park also has three yurts. This is glamping at its finest -- a cross between cabin dwelling and tenting. Located in a wooded area off of the main RV campground, each yurt can sleep up to four. Yurts 1 and 2 are equipped with electricity, while yurt 3 is more rustic and does not have electricity but is ADA-accessible.
The yurts each have a queen-sized bed and two twin size trundle beds, and guests should note that they will need to bring their own sleeping bags or linens. You will find a picnic table and fire ring outside, and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers are located nearby. The yurts are available from March through December, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you're riding solo and just need a place to rest your head after a busy day at the park, consider renting a bunk at the bunkhouse. This two-room, 14 person capacity lodge offers single bed accommodation for visitors to Occoneechee State Park. The bunkhouse is fairly primitive, but guests will find a refrigerator, a coffee pot, a microwave, and heat and air conditioning along with the bunk beds (bedding and pillows not included). There are two shaded picnic tables outside, and restrooms with hot showers and flush toilets can also be found nearby.
The bunkhouse is open from March through December, and reservations go live in January. Make reservations early if you want to stay here, as bunks fill up fast!
If you've brought your horse along on your RV vacation to Occoneechee State Park, you'll both be able to stay in comfort at the equestrian campground located on-site. There are 11 equestrian sites along with 11 stalls, an exercise ring, and a wash down area. Each site is equipped with a 50-amp electric hookup, a picnic table, a lantern post, and a grill, and three central water stations and vault toilets are also located in the campground.
The equestrian campground is open from March through December, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
Once you park the pop-up at your campsite and set up camp, lace up the hiking boots and explore Occoneechee on foot. There are over 20 miles of trails to trek, including two self-guided interpretive trails. Trails range from easy to moderate, and even if you're a total newbie you will be able to find an enjoyable route. Those looking for a challenge should take on the four-mile Beaver Pond Trail or the seven-mile Panhandle Trail.
Summers can get hot in southern Virginia, with the mercury often climbing into the upper 80s. Even though there is no designated swimming area at Occoneechee State Park, you'll still want to pack your bathing suit along in the Airstream. The park is equipped with a Splash Spray Ground, and both young and old can find a reprieve from the heat here. The spray park is located just north of the RV campground, and there's plenty of parking available outside.
Even though there is no swimming area, you can still get out onto the Buggs Island Lake via boat. There are three boat ramps available for park visitors, and if you're staying overnight, you can park the boat at the on-site marina. If you didn't tow your own vessel behind the Sprinter, seasonal rentals are available just across the park in Clarksville. You can rent paddleboards, single and double kayaks, or pontoons from the town marina.
Anglers visiting Occoneechee State Park will find the massive Buggs Island Lake to be plentiful, so if you'd like to real in a keeper during your time at the park, don't forget to pack your fishing gear along in the rig. Common catches include perch, striped and largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. You'll have your best luck casting out via boat, and there are three ramps available at the park. If you didn't bring your own along, fishing boats are available for rent from the Clarksville marina across from the park.
You can bring your horse along on your RV vacation to Occoneechee State Park, and there is even an equestrian campsite available if you'd like to stay the night. There's no better feeling than the crisp autumn air during a horseback ride, and there are over seven miles of equestrian-friendly trail at the park. Horses are not allowed on all the trails, but they are welcome on the scenic Panhandle Trail. This is a multi-use trail, and although there may not be many during the off-season, be cognizant of other hikers and bikers during your ride.
Visitors, both young and old, will love the environmental education programs available at the park. These programs are available year-round and could be anything from guided hikes to learning about flora and fauna of the park. Not only are the programs a fun way to learn about your surroundings, but they're also a great way to get the kiddos out of the campervan for an hour or two! Head to the visitor center to learn about which programs are available during your stay.