Whether you prefer remote campgrounds with nary a flush toilet in site, or the comforts of a yurt, Virginia offers a range of camping locales and degrees of rustic. Escape the summer heat by camping in the mountains, or bring your tent to the beach. Here are a few excellent places to camp, with something to suit all types of campers.
Shenandoah National Park
For a big park experience, drive up to Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Approximately 400,000 campers stayed in the park’s four campgrounds in 2014, says Karen Beck-Herzog, Shenandoah’s public affairs officer. Each campground has a different feel. Lewis Mountain, which has only 30 camping sites, is the least crowded. But Big Meadows and Loft Mountain—each with 220 sites—might be the most family-friendly, with laundry and a camp store within walking distance. Return visitors have their favorite campgrounds. “People develop an affinity for one of them,” Beck-Herzog says. Backcountry camping is also allowed, with a free permit. Shenandoah is one of the few national parks that welcomes pets. However, keep Fido on that leash or you’ll have to answer to a ranger.
Along the Appalachian Trail
If you love hiking and dream of getting away from it all, try a long or short trek on the Appalachian Trail. Virginia lays claim to 544 miles of the trail, which runs the height of the state, offering several distinct terrain experiences. Pick up the trail in the central part of Virginia and take advantage of rustic campsites in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Of course, the more rustic the camping, the more gear you’re likely to need. So this is a good choice for experienced campers who don’t mind carrying their homes on their backs. Spring and early fall are good times to enjoy the central section of Virginia’s Appalachian Trail.
Beachcombing at Assateague
For many people, summer stirs the desire to go to the beach. And seeing wild ponies romp on the shores makes a beach trip even better. If you head for Assateague, famed home of wild ponies, the Maddox Family Campground offers 550 sites on 200 wooded acres. Campers who like lots of amenities and social activities will feel at home here, with a swimming pool, playground, shuffleboard, grocery store, volleyball and four bathhouses.
Legacy cabins and “glamping”
Some folks are never going to enjoy sleeping on the ground. Instead, they might need a cabin to appreciate their time in the woods. Six of Virginia’s parks offer lodging in legacy log or frame cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s: Douthat, Fairy Stone, Westmoreland, Hungry Mother, First Landing and Staunton River. Chippokes Plantation has four historic cabins that were renovated from old tenant houses.
Old cabins not high-end enough for you and yours? Virginia has its share of glamping opportunities. Put the glamour in your “camping” by staying in a deluxe treehouse at Primland Resort & Spa in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With world-class golf, a spa and rates starting at $600 per night, this is on the absolute far end of the rustic-to-posh spectrum.
Kids love Jellystone
Some kids are plenty entertained by nature. Others require miniature golf, water slides and paddleboats. The super family-friendly Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort has campgrounds in Luray, Hayes, Emporia and Natural Bridge Station. They offer tent camping, RV hookups and cabins in beautiful yet action-packed surroundings.