7 Best Lakes in Virginia (and Nearby Campsites)
Virginia offers a wealth of American history but also plenty of lakes and campgrounds to enjoy. If you’ve never visited Virginia before, it’s worth checking out.
So, today, we’re taking a look at some of the best lakes in Virginia and some nearby campsites to enjoy.
Let’s jump in!
The 7 Best Lakes in Virginia (And Where to Camp)
If you love lakes and camping, Virginia is for you. With so many lakes to choose from, you’ve got plenty of options while visiting Virginia. Let’s dive in!
#1. Smith Mountain Lake, Huddleston, Virginia
Location: Smith Mountain Lake is in Bedford County, about 40 miles from Lynchburg and Roanoke. If you’re in Richmond, it’s approximately 140 miles west of the park.
About Smith Mountain Lake: If you’re looking for a water paradise, Smith Mountain Lake may just be the answer. Swimming, boat rentals, and even a fishing pier are just a few of the popular activities you can look forward to enjoying. In addition, there’s an area for picnicking, a visitor center, an amphitheater, and miles of hiking trails.
Best Features: Cooling off in the lake is a great way to experience a Virginia summer. A 500-foot beach is one of two public beaches on the lake. You can also get on the water with canoes, kayaks, hydro bikes, paddle boats, pontoon boats, ski boats, and jet skis.
Where to Camp
If you’re looking for a place to stay close to Smith Mountain Lake, you’re in luck. We have a couple of great options for you to consider.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Smith Mountain Lake State Park has 50 campsites that are a mix of tent and partial hook-up sites. Although there’s a dump station available, non-overnight guests will pay a small use fee. The campground opens on the first Friday in March and closes on the first Monday in December.
Camping fees range from $25 to $40 per night, depending on site option and resident or non-resident status.
Fairy Stone Park
Fairy Stone Park campground has 57 reservable sites for camping. All of the sites have electric and water hook-ups but no sewer connections. However, there’s a dump station available within the park. Camping fees range from $25 to $40, depending on residency.
#2. Lake Gaston, Littleton, Virginia
Location: Lake Gaston sits on the Virginia and North Carolina border. It’s approximately 95 miles south of Richmond, Va., and 72 miles north of Raleigh, N.C.
About Lake Gaston: This lake offers approximately 350 miles of shoreline, is 35 miles long, and covers 20,000 acres. With massive open waterways, it’s perfect for water skiing and other water sports.
Some of the many popular water activities include swimming, motor boating, sailing, fishing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing.
Where to Camp
A great way to experience Lake Gaston is to spend multiple days there. There’s a couple of great camping options in the area.
Lake Gaston Americamps
Lake Gaston Americamps is a family-owned campground with 120 campsites. Sites range from tent camping to ones that can fit 45+-foot RVs. All of the sites here have water and electricity with 30 and 50 amp electrical connections. A handful of sites offer full hookups. Each site has a fire ring, but be aware that Virginia observes a burn ban from Feb. 15 through April 30.
Prices range from $55.18 to $66.18, but they provide a Good Sam discount and discount incentives for extended stays.
Lake Gaston RV Resort
Lake Gaston RV Resort is a Thousand Trails campground located in Littleton, N.C. The 260 sites are open from April 1 through Nov. 1. Whether you come for world-class fishing, boating, or just want to relax by the lake, this is a great campground. The park offers shuffleboard, hiking trails, mini-golf, and a swimming pool.
The 50 amp sites with sewer sell out on a first-come, first-served basis. Sites are $69 per night, but staying more than seven consecutive nights gets you a reduced price of $59 per night.
#3. Lake Anna, Mineral, Virginia
Location: Lake Anna spans Spotsylvania and Louisa counties. The lake sits approximately 72 miles south of Washington, D.C., and 60 miles northwest of Richmond. Therefore, it’s possible to make a day trip out of Lake Anna from Richmond or the metro-DC area.
About Lake Anna: This lake stretches a maximum of 17 miles wide and 80 feet deep. With 13,000 acres of water, this is one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in all of Virginia. The lake has more than 30 different fish species; many anglers favor large-mouth bass, striped bass, walleye, catfish, and crappie in the area.
You may even get lucky and spot an alligator or two while enjoying the lake.
Where to Camp
If a day trip to Lake Anna isn’t enough, there’s a couple of great campgrounds we think you should check out.
Lake Anna State Park
Camping on the lake makes it easy to spend a day on the water but then have a short commute back to your campsite. With 46 sites that are half no hookups and half water and electric, you can choose the style that best fits your camping style. You can make a reservation online or by calling the campground directly.
Christopher Run Campground
If you’re planning to spend your weekend on the water, Christopher Run Campground is for you. The campground has six boat ramps, boat rentals, full hookups, and even fishing piers. You’ll find options from no hook-ups to their deluxe 50-amp sites with full hook-ups. Prices range from $32 per night to $50 per night.
They do offer monthly camping options as well if you’re looking to enjoy the lake for a month or longer.
#4. Philpott Lake, Bassett, Virginia
Location: Located approximately 50 miles south of Roanoke, Va., Philpott Lake sits in the mountains of Henry, Franklin, and Patrick counties. With only 50 miles separating the lake from Roanoke, it’s a great place for residents to relax.
About Philpott Lake: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates this 2,880-acre lake. There are plenty of boat landings, campgrounds, picnic areas, beaches, and even hiking trails near the park.
Fishing is a popular activity on the lake, and anglers often catch large and smallmouth bass. However, the lake is best known for its walleye fishing. If you’re an angler looking to do some major fishing, Philpott Lake is a great option.
Where to Camp
Sleeping near the lake makes it easy to enjoy early morning fishing. So let’s look at a great option to camp close to Philpott Lake.
Goose Point Park
#5. John H. Kerr Reservoir, Boydton, Virginia
Location: The John H. Kerr Reservoir sits on the border between Virginia and North Carolina. The lake is so large that it spans three counties in North Carolina (Vance, Granville, and Warren) and three counties in Virginia (Mecklenburg, Charlotte, and Halifax). The reservoir sits between Richmond, Va., and Raleigh, N.C.
About John H. Kerr Reservoir: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages all 50,000 acres of this reservoir and 55,000 acres of land surrounding the reservoir. You’ll find multiple day-use facilities like boat launches, swimming, and picnicking that the Army Corps of Engineers manages.
The reservoir initially provided flood control and hydropower. However, many visitors enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, and wildlife observation.
Where to Camp
With such a massive reservoir, it’s unlikely a single day will suffice. Stay at either of these campgrounds, and you’ll have a whole weekend to play in the water.
North Bend Park
North Bend Park is the largest of the many parks on the Kerr Reservoir. The park has more than 200 sites for both tents and RVs. You’ll find facilities with hot showers and flushable toilets. There’s even a convenient dump station on site. In addition, you’ll find three boat launch ramps, a disc golf course, and a paved 1.5-mile bicycling trail.
Rudds Creek Campground
If you’re looking for a campground with a beach and boat dock to enjoy water activities, Rudds Creek Campground is an excellent option. The campground has a great swimming beach and picnic shelter for families to enjoy a fun-filled day at the reservoir. There are 99 sites for tents or RVs.
So whether you’re looking for a site with water and electricity (75 sites) or primitive (24 sites), you’ll find it at Rudds Creek Campground. The campground offers a dump station and flush toilets as well.
#6. Sherando Lake, Lyndhurst, Virginia
Location: Sherando Lake is a part of the George Washington National Forest and is approximately 15 miles south of I-64. The lake is approximately two hours, or 100 miles, northwest of Richmond.
About Sherando Lake: This 25-acre lake has a 200-yard beach and is popular for those looking to enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, swimming, and boating. Hiking the many trails around the lake provides some incredible views. The Cliff Trail is popular among more experienced hikers who want to see the lake from above.
Many of the locals refer to Sherando Lake as the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Where to Camp
Don’t try to cram it all into a single day. Check out this camping location near Sherando Lake.
Lake Sherando Camping Area
Lake Sherando has 65 family campsites, as well as group sites. This campground is only open from April 1 to Oct. 31 and requires a reservation. Guests get fire rings and picnic tables, a dump station, and restrooms with flushable toilets and showering facilities. The campground offers 30-amp, 20-amp, and dry camping options.
#7. Claytor Lake, Dublin, Virginia
Location: Claytor Lake rests in Pulaski County, just south of I-81 in the middle of Virginia. The lake is approximately 50 miles southwest of Roanoke, Va.
About Claytor Lake: Claytor Lake is a part of the New River and resulted from a hydroelectric project for an Appalachian Power Company. Fishing is a popular activity on the lake, and anglers often catch bluegill, multiple types of bass, and catfish. In addition, the lake hosts several catch-and-release fishing tournaments.
However, fishing isn’t the only activity; many water sports lovers enjoy wakeboarding, scuba diving, sailing, and even rowing.
Where to Camp
Claytor Lake provides an excellent place to spend a few days relaxing and enjoying the water. Check out our recommendation for where to camp.
Claytor Lake State Park
You won’t have to travel far to find an excellent campground to help you enjoy Claytor Lake. Claytor Lake State Park offers 103 campsites between the 64 no hookup sites and the 39 water and electric sites.
The park offers activities for the family, live music, and ranger programs. In addition, Claytor Lake State Park offers several miles of trails for campers to explore.
Plenty of Lakes to Choose From in Virginia
As you can see, there are plenty of options for lakes to visit and places to stay in Virginia. We think you’ll have a great time at any of these sites or campgrounds. So, which is your favorite campground or lake in Virginia?
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