After a day spent in every type of weather from near blizzard to 64 degrees and sunny (in Knightstown), we decided to opt for a campground with services rather than a WalMart. For the 25$ we paid, WalMart would have been preferable. Although this campground advertised itself as open, no water was available at the sites. The sites themselves were in poor repair - very little gravel and lots of mud. The road into the campground was very poorly maintained - very large gravel and many potholes. At check-in, there was no-one at the camp office (at 4:45 in the afternoon), but instructions to fill out a form and leave it in the box with the fee - there were no forms and no-one in sight. We moved to a site, hooked up and wrote our name, address and site number on a piece of paper and went back to the office to leave it with our money. At that time, some-one had replenished the supply of check-in forms. Still, no-one that we could find in charge. We took a walk around the campground and found it to be fairly attractive - good lawns and landscaping, but a fair amount of trash about. There is a lower area close by a fairly large creek that appeared mostly set up for seasonal campers and pop-ups. We also noted a person who appeared to be a seasonal camper shooting at birds or squirrels with an air rifle from just outside the door of his fifth wheel. Most campgrounds we've seen prohibit the discharge of any sort of firearm within the campground. We found out via radio that there were tornado warnings for this area (to complete our day of weather), we decided to take shelter in the bath house (a cinder block structure) rather than stay in the camper. The bath house smelled like sewage had backed up although it did appear to be fairly clean. We took our chances waiting out the storm in an alcove outside the bath house just so we could breathe. The storm cleared and we returned to the camper and were lulled to sleep by the constant sound of the traffic on I-70. The folks in the lower area near the creek would be spared the traffic noise.
We arrived at the park in the midst of tropical storm Ernesto. Much debris could be found as winds calmed, but the debris was removed early the next day by the park staff and by the end of Saturday, the park was pristine - except no water or electricity (sites are served by a well). The staff again came to the rescue by hooking a generator to a well a short distance from the campground that was accessible to the motorhomes and trailers to fill their tanks. The electricity wasn't restored until late Sunday afternoon, but everyone at the park had a great time "boondocking". The Camp Hosts were just as friendly and helpful as the Rangers. The rest rooms and showers were spotless. What could have been a very unpleasant weekend turned out to be absolutely great. Since this is our follow-up report on this park, here's more info. The campground has 4 pop-up camping units available for rent at $74/night (includes site). These are very nice, new Fleetwood units with A/C. At the moment, there are no camping cabins available, but the Ranger indicated these are in the plan. There is no pool and the park is located in a fairly remote area, so groceries and other supplies are a half-hour or so away. There is no camp store. The sites are large, private, level and drain really well - Ernesto was a huge test. The interior road is new blacktop and the sites are easy to maneuver into. Several pull-thru sites will accommodate the largest rigs. The dump station was very easy to access and had an easy return to the campsites for those staying for an extended time. For paddlers, the park has a dedicated canoe/kayak launch area as well as both for rent. Launch charges are included in the camping fee. Several well-marked trails take you to various spots on the Rappahannock River (wear old, sturdy shoes). The trails can also be bicycled. Wildlife was abundant since this is a working farm. Heron, osprey and eagles were plentiful on the river. Summary, this is a wonderful addition to the State Park system and the attitude of the staff is tremendous - they take great pride in the job they are doing and in the park. During the summer, there are planned activities for the family, but this is more of a rest and relaxation sort of place. If the kids need constant entertainment, then this would not be someplace they would enjoy. We'll be returning, frequently.
This review is based on our scouting visit to the park while staying at Westmoreland SP. This is a brand new facility on the Rappahannock River. The park itself is a working farm with a small campground. The sites are level and well-gravelled with table, lantern post and fire-ring. The interior road is blacktop. The single bathhouse is new and includes laundry facilities and separate private showers. The park has a deep water boat ramp as well as a dedicated kayak/canoe launch site with pier. We were so impressed, we're heading back over the Labor Day weekend with friends. Will write a more in-depth review then.
This park remains one of our favorites in the Virginia State Park system. While the park dates back to the 1930's, and there is not much to attract the younger set (there is a great pool) from a commercial standpoint, this is a great place to help the youngsters begin to appreciate the nature around them. Osprey, heron and Bald Eagles are common along the Potomac and the park offers some great hiking trails, including one very accessible to those confined to wheelchairs (paved and gently sloped). The sites are clearly marked and the interior roads can be a bit rough, but there is generally good drainage. We were "treated" to a particularily violent thunderstorm one evening. One lightning strike damaged the pool's filter pump motor, so the pool was out of commission for the week. For kayaker's/canoeists, the Northern Neck has a wealth of small ramps and out-ins on both the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers that offer a lot of opportunities for viewing nature at its best.
As others have stated, this park is brand new and there are some bugs to be worked out, but overall, a wonderful addition to the otherwise bleak camping options on Lake Anna. The w/e sites will accommodate the biggest rigs. Several nicely equipped pop-ups are available for rent already on sites and there are 10 or so very nice cabins are also available. Sites on the camping loops have been cleared for more cabins, but I'd rather see those sites used for additional campsites. There are 2 bathhouses with private showers - very well cleaned. Many hiking/biking trails are available, but the maps are confusing - again, the park is going through the growing pains and, based on our experiences with the other Virginia State Parks, by next year, these problems will be rectified. Pets are welcome, but the Virginia State Park system charges an additional $3 per day for pets. About Lake Anna: this is the second largest lake in Virginia and was created to provide a cooling water source for the Lake Anna Nuclear Power Plant. It has become a major recreational area and power boat/jet ski noise is considerable. The park offers a very nice beach/picnic area that can be quite crowded, but it is well patrolled. Lifeguards are on duty during the day at the clearly defined beach swimming area. A single boat ramp is heavily used - it would be nice to see a separate launch area for kayaks/canoes. Fishing is good and, for paddlers, there are quiet coves to explore with an abundance of birds - herons, osprey and the occasional bald eagle. Beach use and launch fees are included in the camping charge.
We camped here Memorial Day weekend 2006 and have camped here about 10 times over the past few years. The park is very clean and convenient for folks who want to site-see in Washington and the surrounding areas. The Metro access has been discussed by others. We are kayakers and enjoy photographing nature which Gunston Cove had in abundance. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Agency has, sadly, decided to nickel and dime paddling campers out of the park. The park has an extraordinary boat ramp area which caters to power-boaters and jet-skiers, but discourages canoers and kayakers by charging folks launching 2 kayaks from the shore more than it costs to launch a 30 foot powerboat from one of the excellent ramps. Eagles, herons and osprey used to be very common on Pohick Bay and Gunston Cove, but this weekend we saw very few in over 5 hours on the water. Happily, Mason Neck State Park is just a couple of minutes down the road and welcomes paddlers for $4 which includes admission to all facilities. It seems the birds have found more suitable habitat there. For the family camping trips, the state parks offer pool passes (where pools are available) for everyone in the family with the camping fee - also, no added charge for launching boats of any sort. Pohick has a wonderful pool, but allows one free pass to the camping party and a small discount to the others. Lastly, Pohick has recently added converted 12 sites to full hook-up - including 50 Amp service. This weekend, we were assigned an electric-only site (which we were happy to take) only to find 5 of the full hook-up sites occupied all weekend by 2 pop-ups, 2 tents and one used as a parking spot for 2 pick-up trucks. One other site remained empty all weekend. Poor management of these new resources was clearly in evidence here since the sign at the front entrance read "Campground Full". Our best guess had it at 70% full. Bottom line - this is a good campground from which to base an exploration of the Washington area. If you are looking for the usual amenities offered by a regular commercial campground or state park, don't be surprised when you are asked to pay extra here.