Virginia has an abundance of parks throughout the state, each with its own splendor and beauty. From the breathtaking Shenandoah National Park to the inspiring Mt. Trashmore, Virginians are lucky to have access to such wonderful outdoor opportunities. Here are 10 of the best parks our state has to offer.
The Shenandoah National Park is a national treasure. With over 200,000 acres of protected land housing “cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, and quiet wooded hollows,” the park never disappoints. Each trip is a unique experience. Whether you’re driving along Skyline Drive or hiking through the Appalachian Mountains, Shenandoah is a must on any nature goer’s list.
The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts has shows from May through September, including musicals, dance, opera, jazz, and popular and country musical performances. Special events and traveling artists from around the world come to Wolf Trap to share their craft. The grounds surrounding the amphitheaters are prime-hiking trails, too.
The Pocahontas State Park just outside of Chesterfield, Virginia is consistently one of the most popular park destinations in the state. It is the largest state park with over 7,600 acres of land and two fishing lakes available to the public. It is currently undergoing massive renovations, but is open to the public during this tumultuous time.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Huddleston, Virginia, is situated on one of the largest bodies of freshwater in the state. As such, many of the activities are water based, such as swimming, fishing, and boating. Nevertheless, hiking trails, primitive camping, and picnicking are frequent favorites of park-goers, particularly in colder months.
Virginia Beach, Virginia, is home to First Landing State Park, which includes three indoor aquariums, showers, and water sport rentals. With over a million annual visitors, First Landing is consistently Virginia’s most popular state park. It is also the first planned state park of Virginia and is the site of Christopher Newport’s first landing in the Americas.
Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is a park created from a previous landfill. The park is over 165 acres and includes 15 picnic shelters, playgrounds, a basketball court, four volleyball areas, walking trails, and two fishing lakes. Skateboarders, such as the world-famous Tony Hawk, frequent the 24,000 square foot skate park on the premises.
Vehicles cannot access the False Cape State Park in southern Virginia Beach. Instead, one must hike, bike, or boat to the spot. Primitive camping and environmental education programs are central features of this park, where the coastal environment has remained largely undisturbed by modernization.
Native Americans once traveled through the Gap to follow the game animals that lived there. Today, it is a 20,500-acre park with fantastic views of the Appalachian Mountains, diverse vegetation, and wildlife including black bears, rabbits, foxes, wild turkeys, and others. The park hosts regular events, which can be found on its website.
The George Washington and Jefferson National Forest in Mt. Solon, Virginia cover over 1.8 million acres of land. Two-thousand miles of hiking runs through the park, as does Virginia’s highest point, Mount Rogers. Hiking, mountains biking, and hunting are all popular pastimes.
The Bear Creek Lake State Park aims to offer many of the same attractions of the larger surrounding parks without the crowds. The park is mostly comprised of the 40-acre lake, and most of the most popular activities are water based. Those that visit Bear Creek know that the boating, fishing, and swimming offered are second to none.