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Inhabited by various Native American tribes for hundreds of years before European settlers trickled into the area, Occoneechee State Park is named after one of the more recent resident tribes, Occoneechi, who left the area in the late 1600s. It’s also the site of one of the first known rebellions in the New World. Nathanial Bacon’s plantation was raided by the Susquehannock Native Americans, who had been displaced from their homelands in south-central Pennsylvania. Bacon’s request for assistance from Virginia’s governor was rudely rejected. Irked, Bacon rallied the local landowners and farmers and mounted his own militia in 1676. Because this militia ran contrary to the governor’s wishes and in a roundabout way, the England King’s, as well, this was considered a treasonous act.
Today, Occoneechee State Park is an idyllic piece of Virginian wilderness that borders the John K. Kerr Reservoir, which is locally known as Buggs Island Lake. The closest large town is Clarksville, just three miles across the reservoir. Camping at Occoneechee State Park allows for plenty of adventure, as well as easy access to the nearby charming towns.
One of the largest state parks in Virginia, Occoneechee boasts around 20 miles of hiking trails that serpentine through dense woods, swooping in close to the lakeshore at times, and then back into the heart of oak, maple, and hardwood groves. Underfoot, hundreds of years of leaves and pine needles crumbled into rich loamy soil muffle the sound of footfalls. The longest trail, called the Panhandle Trail, straddles a narrow neck of land that widens into a peninsula. The trail meanders, sometimes through stands of woods, other times, into soft, wet meadows. Occasionally horseback riders and leashed dogs share the trail. In springtime, fragile snowdrop and crocus flowers peek through a blanket of fallen leaves, embracing the warm sun.
Though there are no maintained beaches, there is a small splash pad that young children can use to cool off on a hot summer day. A small horse stable adjacent to the parking lot can be used to hold horses overnight (all riders must have a copy of a negative Coggins report). Access to the lake is mere steps from the parking lots and campgrounds. Three boat ramps are available for the public’s use. Buggs Island Lake is world-famous for it's bass and crappie fishing, known for large, plentiful fish, especially striped and largemouth bass, catfish and crappie. The lake regularly hosts regional and national fishing tournaments.
Though this area is surrounded by wilderness, most neighboring parks are designated wilderness management areas, and thus, do not allow camping with an RV.
When you search for an RV near Clarksville, VA, naturally the question of where you’ll park it comes to mind. Occoneechee State Park has 48 sites for RVs and tents. Some of these sites are waterfront, which can be enjoyed from an RV rental. Mosquitoes and other biting flies are a concern otherwise. Though RV camping at Occoneechee State Park is a popular activity, there are size limits that need to be minded: depending on the preferred location, the lots can accommodate vehicles of up to 30 or 35 feet. Most sites have 30 amps hookups, and leashed pets are allowed. Not all sites have water or sewer, though there are restrooms with hot showers and sanitation stations near all campsites.
Should space run out, it may be necessary to find different accommodation for camping with a travel trailer. There are a handful of options within 10 miles. Rudds Creek Campground is a short drive away in Boydton near a jag of waterway that joins up with Buggs Island Lake. Rudds Creek Campground has almost 100 lots, a majority of which have electric and water hookups.
Camping with an RV isn’t the only activity you can partake in. Hit the road and go explore this part of Virginia. The Prestwould Plantation is one of the most intact plantations in Virginia. Volunteers offer an intimate tour of the plantation grounds and the interior of the modest manor, which was built in 17997. The museum features one of the largest collections of slave writings in the country, detailing their lives and hardships from the slaves’ perspective.
Every July, Clarksville holds its annual Virginia Lake Festival. The three-day event draws, on average, around 80,000. Consistently ranked among the “Top 20 Festivals in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society, the Lakefest features hot air balloon rides, a juried craft show, live music, sand sculpture contests, helicopter rides, and fishing tournaments. The weekend is capped off with a firework show over the river.
Traveling to Raleigh, NC, some 60 miles south, is made painless when you are in a rental motorhome. The old-world southern town boasts a fusion of historical charms and modern amenities. The streets are lined by ancient oaks, sheltering its residents from the sweltering humidity that wafts through the area, carrying the fragrant aromas of azaleas and honeysuckle flowers. The city showcases several premier art galleries and museums that display some of the world’s finest artworks, including Monet, Renoir, and Rodin.
Go RV camping at Occoneechee State Park and make new memories to last a lifetime.