(Last updated on: 03/12/2022)
The best national parks in Virginia- a guide. What are the best national parks in Virginia? Whether they are favoured for their landscape, history, heritage, culture, beauty or even all four, keep reading as I discuss the must-see national parks in Virginia!
What is a national park?
What exactly is a national park? A national park is an area protected due to its cultural heritage, boasting varied wildlife and beautiful countryside. They are typically known for their stunning landscapes and unique features. The aim of a national park is to preserve the site of natural beauty and benefit from this, without destroying it. The ‘National park service‘ manages 423 national parks across America, in aims of conserving the ‘natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations’.
Why visit the national parks in Virginia?
Why visit the national parks in Virginia? With so much culture, variety and beauty to explore, what is there no to love about the national parks in Virginia? You will find George Washington’s birthplace, Great falls, and history from the Revolutionary War to The Great Depression.
How many national parks in Virginia are there?
There are 22 national parks in Virginia, making it a state with plenty of natural scenery! It was reported that in 2021 the parks gained 22,233,323 visitors , with a visitor spend of $1.2 billion. That spending resulted in 18,000 jobs and increased the local economy’s wealth by $1.9 billion.
The best accommodation when visiting the national parks in Virginia
Homewood suites is an amazing accommodation, just a 20 minute drive from Great falls national park. These cosy suites are perfectly equipped for a great stay, with a central location surrounded by eateries, free Wi-Fi on site and a fitness centre. With a clean, cosy and aesthetic interior it’s sure to prove as a great nights sleep, and a perfectly convenient accommodation to come back to after a visit to the national parks in Virginia. Click here to find out more.
Hampton house is just a 15 minute drive from Fort Monroe national monument. The house is in an incredible location, with an airy and woodland vibe. There is a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, as well as cosily furnished bedroom for a great nights sleep. Click here to find out more.
Quality Inn is an amazing accommodation just a 45 minute walk from Wolf trap national park. The inn is equipped with all the right facilities for a great stay, including free Wi-Fi and an outdoor pool. The Inn is in a great central location, with multiple restaurants surrounding the site including a Starbucks and a subway. Click here to find out more.
Richmond Marriott is an amazing accommodation, just an 8 minute walk from Maggie L Walker national park. The hotel has a modern furnishing with a cosy interior and a bar, restaurant and fitness centre on site, perfect for a convenient and comfortable stay. Click here to find out more.
Essential packing list when visiting the national parks in Virginia
What is an essential packing list for when visiting the national parks in Virginia? Here are the complete essentials to bring on your trip.
There are plenty of beautiful spots to stop off and enjoy a picnic. Packing a picnic bag makes carrying utensils and food so much easier, especially when trailing the sites. I recommend the SatisInside picnic basket, it’s cute, practical and insulated for food cooling and storage.
Litre water bottle
It is always recommended to bring any kind of reusable water bottle when visiting a national park. Stay hydrated and sustainable with the Hydracy water bottle, which is leak proof and comes in multiple cute colours!
Want a unique way to capture the moments spent in the national parks in Virginia? A disposable camera is just that. With a disposable camera you can give that vintage edge to your photos that you can’t achieve with a phone camera! I recommend the Ricardo Materossi camera for its cheap price and great quality, with 38 pictures worth of memory.
The national parks in Virginia have plenty of hikes to enjoy, so it’s best to start the journey with a good and comfortable pair of hiking boots. I recommend the Ansbowey store hiking boots, they are sturdy, comfortable and a great price.
The best national parks in Virginia
So you’ve arrived at the right place to find the best national parks in Virginia! Keep reading to find the beauty, history and culture that lies within the Old dominion state!
Great falls is a stunning 800 acre national park, featuring sites of natural beauty with a collection of rapids and waterfalls that lie on the Potomac river. These sites of wonder can be enjoyed by 3 overlooking points on site, with overlook 1 being the closest view you can get of the falls! Enjoy the many choices for outdoor activities, from bird watching to climbing, and from biking to enjoying lunch with a picnic table and grill.
Make sure to look out for the Potowmack canal, which is the most historically significant part of the site, an example of one of the earliest and best surviving constructions of a canal, constructed between 1786 and 1802. Overall, Great falls is a perfect destination for lovers of the great outdoors, with its wide array of activities in nature, and plenty of amazing views too.
Fort Monroe is one of the best national parks in Virginia for its history. telling of American Indian culture, Captain John Smiths journeys, the first arrival of enslaved Africans in English north America and a place of peace for those seeking freedom during the American civil war. Today you can tour the site and visit the Casemate musuem, which explores the military history of Fort Monroe, with plenty of significant exhibit’s, even the room where Jefferson Davies was held prisoner in the American Civil war in 1861.
Maggie L Walker
Maggie Lena Walker was a significant African American figure in the American civil rights movements, helping to provide educational needs for African Americans during during the Jim Crow laws. She was the first black woman to found and own a bank, as well as being a journalist and fraternal leader.
Today the site acts as a legacy to her devotion to business and the civil rights movements. You can take a ranger-led guided tour of the site, beginning with a viewing of the parks film “Carry on” in the Visitor centre, and ending with a tour inside the house itself. With much to learn from this inspirational woman, it’s a great insight into a huge part of American history.
Prince William Forest
Prince William Forest is one of the best national parks in Virginia for its natural scenery and wildlife. There are 37 miles of hiking trail in the 15,000 acre site, so you won’t be stuck for a good trail!
- For a shorter trail, try the ‘Laurel Loop‘ trail. You can access this from the Pine grove picnic area.
- For a slightly more challenging trail, try the longest trail on site, which is the ‘South Valley trail‘. This is an amazing 9.7 mile trail that runs from Oak ridge camping ground, along South Fork Quantico Creek. Along the way you will find natural wildlife like beavers, lakes, dams the scenic dive bridge and cascades.
There is always a place on site to find unique natural wildlife. Find over 900 plant species, from the Spotted touch me not to Fiddlehead ferns. Prince William forest is a great stop off for a tranquil, scenic and naturally diverse environment, so definitely put it on your bucket list for the national parks in Virginia!
Wolf trap national park for the performing arts
There is something special about the Wolf trap national park. It is the only national park in the world that is completely dedicated to the performing arts, making it truly one of a kind. From May through to September, the multiple amphitheatres on site present a whole range of performances, from opera to dance! So, check out what’s on at Wolf trap national park and enjoy the completely unique experience.
Shenandoah boasts some of the most stunning natural scenery in Virginia. With cascading waterfalls, fields of flowers, woodlands and rocky cliffs, Shenandoah National Park is the perfect place hiking whilst taking in an amazing view.
There are plenty of hikes on site that are recommended for their beauty and wildlife.
- Check out the Blackrock summit hike, which leads to one of the most scenic viewpoints over Shenandoah Valley and the incredible Massanutten Mountain.
- South river falls hike is a 3.3 mile circuit loop which takes you to the base of a beautiful waterfall! With wildflowers and different species of bird to find along the way, this is definitely a great route for appreciating all things natural.
The 6 Best National Parks in Virginia- further reading.
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