Virginia has some of the most beautiful state parks in the whole of the USA.
Affectionately known as the Mountain State, these parks showcase an awesome landscape of soaring peaks, lush alpine forest, shimmering lakes, ranging rivers, pretty meadows and imposing bluffs that rank amongst some of Mother Nature’s most impressive work.
For those wanting a digital detox, or simply to get away from the noise and frenzy of a big city like Roanoke there are a number of excellent national parks you can go to, within easy driving distance, that will refresh your mind and reinvigorate your soul.
All of these parks provide excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, photography, picnicking and camping, these tranquil wilderness destinations are perfect for day trips or longer stays.
Outlined below are our recommendations of 5 of the best state parks near Roanoke in Virginia you simply have to visit once in your life.
Map of State Parks Near Roanoke VA
Here is a map of the Virginia state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Roanoke
Here are five great state parks near Roanoke, all of which are within easy driving distance from the Star City of the South.
1. Claytor Lake State Park
Location: 6620 Ben H Bolen Dr, Dublin, VA 24084
Open daily from 6 am to 10 pm the Claytor Lake State Park is a 472-acre state park that is about an hour’s drive from Roanoke.
Located in in Pulaski County it is centered around the stunning 4500-acre Claytor Lake that resides within a 21-mile-long reservoir.
Accommodating around three miles of pristine lake frontage, it is ideal for sport fishing and boating. Whilst other popular activities include swimming, picnicking, hiking and camping.
The park boasts a full-service marina complete with docking slips, fuel, supplies, refreshments and boat rentals. The latter of which is privately owned and open at weekends.
There is a lovely beach here for swimming, whilst ranger led and self-guided programs for hiking are available too. You’ll also be able to rent bikes, make use of picnic shelters, and for the kids, there is also a playground.
In terms of places to stay there are three lodges and 15 cabins that directly overlook the lake – offering visitors a fabulous scenic retreat in peaceful surroundings.
2. Fairy Stone State Park
Location: 967 Fairystone Lk Dr, Stuart, VA 24171
Another park that is an hour’s drive from Roanoke, is the Fairy Stone State Park.
Named after the unique and somewhat mysterious ‘fairy stones’ that are prevalent in the park – many of which take the form of a Roman or St Andrew’s cross shape – it is one of the largest state parks in Virginia.
Situated in Patrick County, the park covers 4,741 acres and features a 168-acre lake that adjoins the Philpott Reservoir. This provides excellent opportunities for all kinds of boating activities including paddle boats, canoes, rowboats and kayaks.
Priding itself on being family friendly, dog-friendly and LGBT friendly, the park has good campground facilities, including group camping, as well as lodge that sleeps up to 16 people.
There are also a number of fantastic hiking trails here, as well as two playgrounds, one of which is in the water. The beach here is good for swimming, while you can even ride hydro-bikes too. Furthermore, just a few minutes down the road from this park is the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway, so you’ll definitely want to check that out too if you stay here.
3. Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Location: 1235 Rd 888, Huddleston, VA 24104
Established in 1983, the Smith Mountain Lake State Park is a fabulous 1,148-acre state park that runs along the shoreline of the picturesque Smith Mountain Lake.
Featuring the second largest freshwater lake in the state, you’ll find the park near Huddleston in Bedford County. It’s a popular area for outdoor recreational activities like fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating and a range of other water sports as well as hiking, picnicking and biking,
There is also a lovely public beach here, as well as a boat ramp and fishing pier, whilst plenty of wildlife can be spotted around the area too.
For those wanting to staying overnight, the campground has 50 sites situated close to the lake which are suitable for tents, trailers and RVs – 14 of which are electric. They also have 20 cabins available to rent, as well as a bunk house.
Each campsite has a table, grate and fire ring, so you should be set up nicely for your stay. Whilst flush toilets, hot showers, drinking water and a dump station are all available too.
4. Natural Bridge State Park
Location: 6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578
Just a 30-minute drive from Roanoke lies the Natural Bridge State Park.
Listed as a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, the main attraction here is a 215-foot tall Natural Bridge that was carved out by Cedar Creek in a limestone gorge.
The 1,540.22 acre park features a lot more than just the bridge though, as it also encompasses beautiful valleys, rolling meadows of pretty wildflowers, stunning forest landscapes and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
Hiking is the predominant thing to do here, and there is plenty to see including the striking 30-foot cascade of Lace Falls and the fascinating Monacan Indian Village.
In terms of accommodation there are 25 tent sites, 31 full hook-up sites and a handful of cabins available at this pet-friendly campground. There is also a swimming pool and playground onsite as well as a games room, wi-fi and a camp store.
5. Douthat State Park
Location: 14239 Douthat State Park Rd, Millboro, VA 24460
Ever since it first opened in 1936 Douthat State Park has been a popular destination for families.
An hour’s drive from Roanoke, Douthat is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of the role it’s design played in the creation of other state parks nationwide.
Set amongst some of the most jaw-dropping mountain scenery in the whole of Virginia the area is very popular with fishing enthusiasts who take advantage of four miles of stream fishing and a 50-acre trout filled lake.
As well as hiking there are plenty of other things to do here including boat rentals, swimming, sunbathing on the beach, mountain biking and bridle trails. There is also a playground, picnic areas and amphitheater.
For overnight stays, the park offers 32 cabins and three lodges that can accommodate between 15-18 guests each.