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Posted In: Upcoming Events

Va. State Parks Offer Special Programs for the ‘Great American Campout’

Andy Thompson

June 8, 2017 5:41pm

A lakeside campsite at Douthat State Park.

If you’ve wanted to try camping but don’t know how to begin, Virginia’s state parks are great places to start with the Great American Campout, June 24. (The National Wildlife Foundation created the Great American Campout to help introduce families to camping.)

Ten state parks will offer special overnight events, including camping in new, unusual locations.

The Great American Campout at Natural Tunnel State Park starts June 23 and offers a special camping experience, including stargazing by the gazebo. It’s $50 for family of up to four people.

Caledon State Park’s Great American Campout features a campfire with stories and a special night hike. $15 per family includes programs, supper and lunch.

Grayson Highlands State Park offers a free program with camping equipment available.

For a first time ever experience, High Bridge Trail State Park is offering camping on High Bridge for $35 plus tax for up to six people.

Bring your own food and equipment to camp for free at Hungry Mother State Park.

James River State Park will have free camping with volunteers on hand to help first-timers.

Natural Bridge State Park will have a Sky Party astronomy event with optional primitive camping for $8 per tent for up to six people. This will be the first camping opportunity in Virginia’s newest Virginia State Park.

Sky Meadows State Park will offer camping in the beautiful backyard of Mount Bleak House. The event also includes live animals from the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, a demo by Dogs East search and rescue, and a campfire sing-along. $30 per campsite.

At Smith Mountain Lake State Park, you can camp with a ranger available for help and guidance.

Wilderness Road State Park offers camping 101 programs during the day and an optional overnight campout for $10 per family.

Seventeen parks have special programming for the day and encourage participants to make the experience overnight by reserving a campsite in the campground. Five parks have camping programs scheduled. Find the complete list of special programs here.

In addition to campsites, some state parks offer camping cabins and yurts. These facilities are in the campground and guests use the bathhouse. Guests don’t need to invest in a tent and sleeping bags.

BTW, Virginia State Parks offers more than 300 cabins with air conditioning. That seems like a lot to me.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?