(Last Updated On: April 18, 2022)

sunset over the sea at belle island state park in virginia Belle Isle State Park is a public recreation area on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County less than 2 hours from Richmond.

This 892 acre Virginia state park is a peninsula surrounded by tidewater coastal marshes – it lies between Deep Creek and Morattico Creek and has over 7 miles of shoreline.

These tidal wetlands are interspersed with farmland and forest creating a secluded environment ideal for camping, boating, fishing and exploring.

Activities

Since Belle Isle State Park is mostly surrounded by water, swimming, boating and fishing are three of its most popular activities.

And since there isn’t a designated swimming area you can enter the water in various locations throughout the park, such as from your campsite.

The park also has a 1,000 foot boardwalk, observation deck and opportunities to participate in educational programs and other events.

The well stocked camp store has camping and fishing supplies, gifts, souvenirs, firewood, ice and rentals (bicycles, canoes and kayaks) to help make your visit more comfortable.

Visit for a day – have a picnic and explore the trails and waterways – or spend a few nights and take in the scenery, wildlife and everything else that this picturesque park has to offer.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Belle Isle State Park:

Boating at Belle Isle State Park

The best way to explore this riverside park is by kayak or canoe – guided canoe trips are offered during the summer. Boat ramps and launches, including an ADA accessible launch, are conveniently located.

Bring your own boat or rent a canoe or kayak inside the park.

Fishing at Belle Isle State Park

Fish from the pier, the shoreline or from a boat anywhere at Belle Isle State Park. The Rappahannock River is a mix of freshwater and saltwater and a great chance to catch trout, redfish, smallmouth bass, catfish and redbreast sunfish.

You will need a Virginia saltwater fishing license to fish in the park. You can purchase on online here.

Trails at Belle Isle State Park

Belle Isle State Park has 10 miles of gravel multi-use trails and a 1,000 foot boardwalk that wraps around Mulberry Creek.

The gravel trails are open for hiking, biking and horse riding, and bike rentals are available year round at the camp store.

Here are a few of the popular trails here:

  • Neck Fields + Brewer’s Point via Porpoise Creek Trail – An easy 4.8 mile trail through meadows and along the river.
  • Mud Creek Trail – Another easy trail, 1.3 miles through the forest and wetlands.
  • Porpoise Creek Trail – An 0.8 mile clear even ground trail with views of the river. This scenic walk through wildflower meadows and butterflies is considered easy.

If you’re looking for more challenging trails head over to Hickory Hollow Natural Area Preserve on Reginald Rd in Lancaster.

Wildlife at Belle Isle State Park

osprey flying over water at belle island state park in virginia There are 8 distinct types of wetland within the park; these diverse ecosystems provide a natural habitat for many different species.

Birds, especially waterfowl and predator birds are a common sight at Belle Isle State Park. A few you’re likely to see are wild turkeys, ducks, blue heron, osprey, hawks and bald eagles.

In addition to the birds you also may spot white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, moles and many reptiles.

Camping at Belle Isle State Park

Belle Isle State Park has 28 modern campsites with electricity, water, a picnic table, fire ring and a lantern hanger.

These sites are open seasonally between March and December and have access to a bathhouse, laundry facility and camp store.

A primitive camping area, open year round, has 4 sites that are hike-in or boat-in only (there’s no motor vehicle access and the nearest parking is 1.5 miles away). Each of these sites has a picnic table, bench and fire ring.

There isn’t any water or electricity at these sites but a portable toilet is available nearby.

The Bunkhouse, located near the modern campground area is also only open seasonally. This rustic camping lodge has bunk beds and room for up to 14 people but doesn’t have a bathroom, kitchen or heating.

There are picnic tables and a fire ring outside and access to the campground bathhouse.

The Bel Air House, also known as The Mansion, sleeps up to 6. And the Bel Air Guest House sleeps up to 8 but only has beds for 5. The remaining 3 guests will need to bring sleeping bags or air mattresses. Each of these lodging houses does not provide linens.

Pets at Belle Isle State Park

Pets are allowed inside the park but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet while outside. Please clean up after them and do not leave them unattended.

Weddings at Belle Isle State Park

Picturesque Belle Isle State Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The property had been first owned by John Betrand, a Huguenot, in 1692.

Today the Bel Air historic area inside of the park is a special place for intimate weddings, reunions or other small events.

Bel Air House (also known as The Mansion) and Bel Air Guest House were built in 1942 and are original Colonial reproductions by Thomas Tilson Waterman.

Each house has been historically decorated to reflect the colonial time period, and has stunning views of the river and the historic park.

Attractions Near Belle Isle State Park

Lancaster County and the Northern Neck Heritage Area has a lot to discover including trails, antiques and restaurants.

Virginia’s capital of Richmond is located only an hour and a half west of Belle Isle State Park. It’s one of the oldest cities in the country and has a lot of history, shopping and dining.

Virginia Beach is only 2 hours east of Lancaster.

Park Location

Belle Isle State Park
1632 Belle Isle Rd Lancaster, VA 22503
Phone: 804.462.5030
Email: BelleIsle@dcr.virginia.gov

Website

Map

Hours

Open daily 8am to dusk

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Belle Isle State Park: