Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Virginia. The Most Unique Hidden Gems in Virginia.

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 a link to our favorite boondocking area(s), 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 world’s 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 happier we did. It was in the 50s 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 are mysteries 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 on Christmas Day and New Year’s 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. 

Kiptopeke’s Concrete Fleet

Nine of the 24 concrete ships were contracted by the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. In 1948 the ships were brought to Kiptopeke Beach in order to bring protection to the terminal during severe weather. The ships lie, partially sunken, about a quarter-mile off of the shore near the fishing pier. Kayaks are available for rent at the pier if you want to get up close and personal with the ships and the many nesting birds that live on them. We did not see if we could launch our own kayaks from the launch pad, but we are assuming you can. What a great historical thing to see! Can you imagine – ships made out of concrete?

Great Channels of Virginia

Wait! Slot canyons in Virginia? There sure aren’t many, if even more than just this one! 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.

meGreat Channels of Virginia

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.

The Ghost Church

This is just something fun and unique, but also plays games with your vision and mind. Easy to get to and check out since it sits on the side of a rural road in Mechanicsville, Virginia. But what locals call the “ghost church” is more of a suggestion of a building. The white beams that comprise the structure were built on the site where the historic Polegreen Church once stood. Open sunrise to sunset!


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. 


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 are asked a lot about how we travel in 39 feet with 2 full kayaks. Easy! They are inflatable. We do not have an affiliate with Sea Eagle Kayaks. We are simply very happy customers. We’ve traveled 3 full years with these and love them! Click here to see which kayaks we have.

Exploring Virginia

There is so much more exploring to do in Virginia! We hope to be back in Virginia at the end of this year to add more hidden gems to this list! Do you have your own hidden gems to share with us? We’d love to hear about them!

Looking for the best boondocking or paid campgrounds to stay while you’re traveling in Virginia? Check out our ever-changing, always updating list! Click the button below to see our best RV Camping in Virginia!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It means a lot to us!

Looking for some more states in our RV Camping series? Check out the links below!

Plus! Here are some more blogs we think you’ll enjoy!

Thank you for checking out our little corner of the internet! We appreciate each and every one of you! We’d love to hear from you!

3 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path in Virginia. The Most Unique Hidden Gems in Virginia.”

  1. I put the slot canyons on my list. We hiked Mt. Rogers last year but plan to make another trip out there. Looks great. Incidentally, I live in Mechanicsville and can almost see the “ghost church” from my house. Small world!

    1. You’ll love the slot canyon! I’ve had so many people either from VA or passing through who have done the hike after reading my blog, and have shared pictures with me. It’s a really cool place! And that’s really cool that you are so close to ghost church! Thank you so much for commenting. Let us know how you like the hike!

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