As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates.
While Justin served on active duty we were stationed in Virginia. It’s funny how life can change from the plans you made. We bought a house, settled in Chesapeake, and he planned to get out of the military. Within a couple of years we were offered orders to Germany, which we accepted, and we ended up finishing out 20 years of service.
FUN FACT: Virginia is home to the worlds largest Slinky (Richmond).
Virginia is such a beautiful, fantastic state. It’s a state you just have to take your time in. The popular, tourist attractions are still unbelievable and amazing! So check them out!!
The Natural Bridge – This really used to be unpopular and left alone. I think more and more it’s becoming something to see, but definitely visit this amazing place if you haven’t. We visited in the “Winter” (January) and couldn’t have been more happy we did. It was in the 50’s on the day we hiked the 2 mile trail to the waterfall. We might have seen a total of 20 people all day long. Very quiet, and peaceful. Virginia’s Natural Bridge is an enormous natural limestone arch. Carved by Cedar Creek over thousands of years, the arch was created when an ancient cavern collapsed leaving only the bridge. It is the largest natural land bridge on the North American continent. Don’t forget to go see the Hidden J.R.R. Tolkien Quote. Lines from a walking song are etched into a rock in Natural Bridge State Park.
Barboursville Ruins – We love the history behind ruins, and the architecture of some, for the times, is just breathtaking. Usually there is mystery and unanswered questions. We love that stuff. The ruins of this Thomas-Jefferson-designed mansion have been left to crumble since the Christmas Day they burnt down. The Mansion is available for visiting when the winery is open (10-5 every day, closed Christmas Day and New Years Day). It is an enjoyable 1/4 mile walk from the winery, or you can drive to a parking lot adjacent to the ruins.
We highly recommend this book on your travels! We don’t carry too many books with us but love this one, and have really gotten some great information from it.
Great Channels of Virginia – If you read my blogs regularly, you know there are two places in the world I feel most at peace with everything. Slot canyons and waterfalls. They are all so very different, and yet, so much the same. This maze-like slot canyon is a unique gem within an already fascinating area. A roughly 6.5-mile hike leads explorers through their many twists and turns. The channels are near the summit of Middle Knob on Clinch Mountain, so hikers are rewarded with gorgeous vistas of the surrounded nature preserve.
Patowmack Canal – Today the Patowmack Canal is largely in ruins, though better preserved portions are visible as part of the Great Falls Park. Great Falls Park is a section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The entrance to the park is located off of Old Dominion Drive, about 15 minutes off the Washington DC, beltway. Entry to the park is $10/car, or $5/person without a car.
Virginia is a state that is just full of historical museums, if that’s your thing. We do go to some, but we really love outdoor things to do. Hiking, kayaking and exploring. There are some fun and unique museums so if you are a museum hopper, make sure you do some research.
- Did you know you can stay 2 nights in the Eastern Shore Welcome Center? It’s certainly not the most epic of views, or the most quiet, but seriously easy, good cell service, and a flat area to park. GPS: 37.133955, -75.965563
- Dismal Swamp CoE (Corp of Engineers) Chesapeake – GPS: 36.604442, -76.381418. Paved, quite open year round, and big rig friendly. Good cell service and trash cans available.
- Several places to boondock in the George Washington National Forest. Fulks Run, Virginia GPS: 38.605652, -78.957977 – This is a popular horse riding area, so big rigs definitely fit.
- Holly Brook, Virginia GPS: 37.199093, -80.886757 – This place is beautiful!
Make sure you also enjoy our boondocking tips and 7 of our favorite 2018 boondocking locations HERE.
If you’re boondocking at the above Dismal Swamp CoE kayak an 8-mile there-and-back into the Great Dismal Swamp. Start at the state boat ramp on US 17 near Ballahack Road. Paddle your canoe or kayak south through the Dismal Swamp Canal then west on a feeder canal to Lake Drummond, one of only two natural freshwater lakes in Virginia, part of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Continue west on the feeder canal to reach cypress-ringed 3,000-plus acre Lake Drummond, a Virginia legacy.
We hope you’ll share your off the beaten path places in Virginia. We’d love to hear about them. We thank each and every one of you for reading our blogs, and being part of our adventures.