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sailboat off public beach at claytor lake state park in virginia

Boating and swimming at Claytor Lake. Photo: Park Facebook page

Scenic Claytor Lake State Park is located one hour south of Roanoke in Pulaski County.

This public recreation area is a Virginia State Park consisting of fields and woodlands hugs 3 miles of rocky shores along Claytor Lake.

Visitors to this pretty park enjoy fishing, swimming, boating, hiking and camping.

Claytor Lake is especially known for its sport fishing and boating. This is because it is 4,500 acres and 21 miles long.

This reservoir was formed by the creation of Clayton Dam on the New River in 1939.


Claytor Lake State Park has much to offer whether you plan to visit for a day or spend a few nights. Picnic areas, a playground, restrooms, two gift shops, a beach and trails are available to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable.

Historic Howe House offers interactive hands-on exhibits for learning about the ecology of the lake and surrounding areas.

This house is the oldest structure in the park, built between 1876 and 1879, and is named for Civil War veteran and environmentalist, Haven Howe.

The park office and gift shop are also located inside of Howe House.

The Water’s Edge meeting facility also has a gift shop and is an ideal spot for weddings, receptions and other large gatherings.

Swimming at Claytor Lake State Park

Claytor Lake State Park has a large seasonal beach area with a diving tower, snack bar and gift shop.

During the summer an additional fee is required for day visitors but not for overnight guests.

This additional fee is because of the lifeguard provided, during the rest of the time it is swim at your own risk.

Boating at Claytor Lake State Park

Spend a relaxing day on picturesque Claytor Lake during your visit.

A full service marina located inside the park has docking slips, supplies, fuel and boat rentals.

Both local Claytor Lake Water Sports and Mountain 2 Island have boat rentals available.

Boat docks are available near the marina and also in the cabin area (for registered guests).

Any boats that can’t be tied to the dock must be removed from the water.

Fishing at Claytor Lake State Park

Sport fishing is very popular at Claytor Lake. During your visit you can fish for bass, catfish, walleye and muskie from shore, boat or the universally accessible fishing pier.

Fishing from the shoreline is permitted throughout the park except for the beach and cabin areas.

You can pick up a freshwater fishing license at the Water’s Edge gift shop (open seasonally) or the park office. Or purchase one online here.

Trails at Claytor Lake State Park

There are 7 miles of easy multi-use trails inside Claytor Lake State Park.

These 6 well marked trails connect as they wind throughout the mature oak-hickory-poplar forest and past wildflowers and offer stunning views of the lake.

Many of the trails are ideal for runners, and all are well suited for hikers and bikers. If you don’t have a bike, rentals are available at the park office.

Here are a few of the popular trails:

  • 5K Cross-Country Trail – This runner’s trail was designed by Boy Scout Troop 244. It starts on Lakeview Trail at the front of the Water’s Edge meeting facility and ends at the lodges.
  • Claytor Lake Trail – A 2.2 mile hike around the lake and through the woods.
  • Shady Ridge Trail – A .66 mile self guided interpretive loop that’s part of TRACK Trail Adventures, a program that inspires kids to become interested in exploring nature.

Wildlife Viewing at Claytor Lake State Park

closeup of an eastern painted turtleThe diverse habitats inside the park and surrounding Claytor Lake are ideal for many species of wildlife.

You may see eastern painted turtles, white-tailed deer, raccoons, squirrels and various birds during your visit to the park.

A few birds you may want to keep an eye out for are woodpeckers, chickadees, robins, wrens, osprey and blue and green herons.

Lodging at Claytor Lake State Park

Campsites, a bunkhouse, yurts, cabins and lodges are available for overnight reservations at Claytor Lake State Park.

Fifteen rustic cabins have gorgeous views of the lake and sleep 6 or 8 depending upon whether you reserve the 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom.

Each cabin is climate controlled and also features an inside fireplace, small kitchen and combined living room and dining area.

The kitchens have a refrigerator, stove, microwave, coffeepot, cookware, dishes and eating utensils. No tv, phone, washer, dryer or linens are provided.

The 3 lodges each have 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms as well as large kitchens and an open living and dining area.

There is a washer and dryer in each lodge but no phone or television. And each lodge has a large back porch with cozy rocking chairs that overlook the lake.

If you plan to stay in one of the cabins or lodges you may want to bring food, coffee, coffee filters, board games, cards, books and other activities. Also remember bed linens, bath, beach and kitchen towels. And keep in mind that there are no extra bed rentals available.

The park also has 103 campsites, 39 with electricity and water connections. Each site has a picnic table, lantern hanger and fire ring.

A group camping site is also available and can fit up to 10 tents and 10 cars for a maximum of 35 people. These sites are tent-only and do not have electricity or water.

Nearby, a 2 room climate controlled trailer with 7 sets of bunk beds, a refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot plus a picnic table, grill and fire pit is also available for larger groups.

This bunkhouse sleeps up to 14 people and has electricity but no bathroom or kitchen.

Camping and the bunkhouse are open from the last Friday in March until the first Monday in December.

Nestled in the woods around the campground are 4 Yurts. Each comfortably sleeps 3 but has no electricity, water or heating.

Each features a queen size and twin bunk bed, a dining table, chairs, couch and sitting chair. Outside a large wooden deck holds a picnic table and rocking chairs and access to a grill and fire ring.

Pets at Claytor Lake State Park

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

Attractions Near Claytor Lake State Park

New River Trail State Park – This 57.7 mile rail trail and public recreation area lie 25 miles south of Claytor Lake State Park and parallels historic New River. The gentle sloping trails inside this park are ideal for hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

Dixie Caverns – Located 33 miles north of Claytor Lake State Park, this site is a commercial show cave with a gift shop, campground and a 45-dealer antiques. The underground cave is formed in the limestone rock and has been open to visitors since 1923.

Park Location

Claytor Lake State Park
6620 Ben H Bolen Dr
Dublin, VA 24084
Phone: 540.643.2500




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Claytor Lake State Park: