Belle Isle has seven miles of shoreline on the Northern Neck's Rappahannock River and provides access to Mulberry and Deep creeks. The park lets visitors explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with farmland and upland forests. It has a campground, three picnic shelters, hiking, biking and bridle trails, and motor boat and car-top launches. Belle Isle also offers overnight lodging at Bel Air and the Bel Air Guest House. Bicycle, canoe, kayak and motorboat rentals are available. Guests also enjoy the park's universal access playground, boardwalk and fishing pier, and educational programs. The Bel Air historic area is ideal for weddings.
The diverse habitats found in the park provide homes to many predator birds, such as blue herons, osprey, hawks and bald eagles. White-tailed deer, turkeys, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, moles, reptiles and amphibians are also common. There are eight distinct types of wetlands within the park. These diverse ecosystems make Belle Isle an excellent outdoor laboratory for environmental education.
Dawn - dusk.
Lancaster County on the Rappahannock River. From Warsaw, take State Route 3 East to SR 354. Turn right and follow for three miles. Turn right onto SR 683 at Somers to the park entrance. From Kilmarnock, take Route 3 West to Lively, then left on SR 201 for three miles, then right on SR 354 for three miles and left onto 683 to the park entrance.
Its address is 1632 Belle Isle Rd., Lancaster, VA 22503; Latitude, 37.774414. Longitude: -76.599364.
Drive Time: Northern Virginia: two hours; Richmond: two hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach: two hours; Roanoke: five hours
Bel Air Overnight Area (Bel Air house and guest house) and camping. For information on availability of campsites, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online. The Bel Air overnight area can be reserved only by calling 1-800-933-PARK. Click here for details on reservation cancellation and transfer policies. A fee is charged per pet per night for cabin stays.
Visit a photo collection of Belle Isle's overnight accommodations.
The Bel Air Overnight Area is a 33-acre peninsula of land at the mouth of Deep Creek in Lancaster County. Views of beautiful sunsets over the Rappahannock River make this Northern Neck landmark an ideal place to spend a week with friends, family or associates.
Two houses may be rented together or separately. A large frame tent, picnic tables, a limited number of tables and chairs, and a pig cooker also are available for rent.
The facility is well suited for weddings and other large events. Any event likely to have more than normal occupancy, however, requires prior approval by park staff. Many issues, such as catering, parking, bathroom access, set-up and alcoholic beverage permits, may require park special use permits. Also, all house guests will need to sign a statement regarding liability for damage to furnishings.
The Bel Air House and the Bel Air Guest House may be rented year-round with a two-night minimum. Those planning a wedding or family reunion should be aware that both houses must be rented for the event.
The Bel Air House, built in 1942, was the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Garland Pollard Jr. This Colonial reproduction house was designed by Thomas Tilson Waterman, an architectural historian with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in its early years. The construction of the building included using interior materials from other notable historic buildings in the local area. Current furnishings in the building include solid hardwood, Colonial reproductions and oriental rugs that maintain the historic character of the building. Because of fire code requirements, maximum occupancy of the house is six. Smoking is not permitted. No camping equipment is allowed in the Bel Air Overnight Area.
The Bel Air Guest House is 15 feet from a cove on Deep Creek. Picture and bay windows provide beautiful views of sunsets over the Rappahannock River. John Garland Pollard's children called this building their play house.
The building has two full-size pull-out sofas and chairs. The great room can be set up in many combinations for different purposes. (See the arrangements below.) Maximum occupancy is eight. A two-night minimum is required.
The Bel Air Guest House has been rented daily in the past for picnics and reunions. In such cases, a two-night minimum is required.
Bel Air House (BAMAN-MON)
Bel Air Guest House (BAGH-MON)
Wedding special use guidelines for the Bel Air Area
The Bel Air area is used primarily to provide overnight accommodations similar to lodges and cabins in other Virginia State Parks. However, the grounds and location make it ideal for special events and weddings. For such events, both the house and guest house must be rented for at least two consecutive nights. Listed below are some general guidelines for special events in the Bel Air Area. A special use permit is required for activities other than normal overnight accommodations. This permit is issued by Belle Isle State Park, not the state parks reservation center. A $25 fee is charged for processing special-use permit requests; checks should be made payable to Treasurer of Virginia.
*The Bel Air grounds and facilities are open for viewing by appointment only.
**The above are guidelines only. Each special use permit request is evaluated separately, and conditions are determined from information provided. Use of the area is contingent upon rental of the buildings for the reservation period in effect at the time of the desired date(s).
The park offers full-service and primitive camping. The full-service camping season is from the first Friday in March to the first Monday in December. Primitive camping is year-round. There are no designated swimming areas at this park.
Belle Isle allows guests to reserve specific campsites. Here's a chart of those campsites.
Site type: E/W - Electric and water hookups, various equipment (tents, pop-ups and RVs up to 45 feet). Tent pads 15’ x 24’. Bathhouse available. All equipment must be within borders of the campsite.
No. of each site type: E/W, 28
Brewer’s Point Hike-in or Boat-in Primitive Campground
This campground offers year-round primitive hike-in or boat-in tent camping. Motor vehicle access to these sites is not permitted for any reason. Campers must arrive by boat or hike in (1.5 miles from the closest parking area).
Camping Lodge (bunkhouse): Check-in is 4 p.m., check-out is 10 a.m. The camping lodge is available only during camping season, which is from the first Friday in March through the first Monday in December. This facility is not reserved 11 months in advance. Rather, it goes on sale January each year.
The park offers almost 10 miles of trails, most of which are gravel and multi-use. There are a few short secondary trails, which are mowed around open fields, that visitors are encouraged to walk. These areas are ideal places to observe songbirds, small mammals and butterflies. Osprey are plentiful along the walks in the spring and summer, and bald eagels may be seen in these areas in fall and winter months. There is also a short universally accessible boardwalk that wraps around Mulberry Creek near the car-top launch, and the fishing pier is a good place to observe waterfowl.
There are no designated swimming areas.
Fishing: Saltwater bank fishing. A valid Virginia saltwater fishing license required.
Boating: The park offers guided canoe trips during the summer season. A ramp is available for the motor boaters and cartop launch area for canoes, kayaks and windsails. Boaters are encouraged to visit by way of water. The motor boat area offers a picnic shelter, grills and restrooms. Docking is permitted during daylight hours. Controlling water depth at the mouth of Deep Creek is two feet mean low water. Purchase an annual boat launch passport by calling 1-800-933-PARK.
Equipment rentals at the camp store offer opportunities to explore the park’s 7 miles of shoreline on the Rappahannock River, Deep and Mulberry Creeks, in addition to the eight varieties of wetlands and coastal agricultural fields.
Bridle paths are available. State law requires that visitors carry a copy of a negative Coggins report with each horse brought to the park.
Click here for the park's trail guide.
Mary Ball Washington Museum, Lancaster; Reedville Fisherman's Museum, Reedville; Morratico Waterfront Museum, Morratico; Steamboat Era Museum, Irvington; Historic Christ Church, Weems; Tides Inn and Tides Lodge, Irvington; Hughlett Point Natural Area, Bush Mill Stream Natural Area; Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce; numerous antique shops and restaurants. For more information, visit www.northernneck.org and www.lancasterva.com.
Two picnic shelters overlooking the historic Rappahannock River and one that overlooks Deep Creek are available for rent year-round. They are available from sunrise until the park closes (all day).
Click here for park fees. Call 1-800-933-PARK to reserve. Per car parking fees are in addition to shelter prices.
Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee.
Belle Isle's historic Bel Air area is popular and well-suited for weddings of all sizes. Also, the mansion and guest house have space that may be used for meetings and small get-togethers.
Belle Isle has a well-stocked camp store and gift shop a short distance from the park's campground. Customers will find t-shirts, hiking medallions, ball caps and other mementos, as well as fishing licenses, bait of all kinds and crabbing supplies. The store also sells firewood, coffee, ice and ice cream. Motor boats, canoes, kayaks, bikes and paddle boards may be rented here during summer. Camp store summer hours are Thursday, noon-4 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitor’s center and park office hours year-round are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
None at this park.
One is available in the campground.
Here and away from the park, schools, community groups and others may learn about and explore the park's diverse ecosystem and that of Virginia's Northern Neck area. Contact park staff at 804-462-0162 or 804-462-5030 for details. A small fee is charged to cover time and materials.
The park offers ranger-led programs including canoe and kayak trips, nature crafts, aquatic programs, crabbing, kids' activities and campfires. Also avaialbel are self-guided adventures, such as geocaching and "park packs" (no charge) for family fun and exploration of the park. View all park's events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
Tackle, motorboat, canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals are available.
The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. John Bertrand, a Huguenot, first acquired the property in 1692. The Downman family operated Belle Isle plantation on the site throughout the 19th century. The Somers, Pollard, and Hamlin families owned the properties until the recent state acquisition. The historic Belle Isle mansion, previously owned by the Gruis family, has recently been acquired by the park but is not yet open.
The Friends of Belle Isle State Park is a non-profit citizen organization that supports the park through advocacy, volunteerism, community relations, event and program sponsorship, and fundraising. The group's mission is to conserve the park's natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources. It supports several park events, including an annual Easter egg hunt in the spring and Music by the River concerts during summer. The group also hosts the Belle Isle State Park 5K Trail Run/Walk in September each year. To join or to learn more, please visit this site or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Master plans must be written for parks before they're built. The plans are updated at least once every 10 years thereafter. The plans cover the size, types, infrastructure and locations of facilities as well as the site's special features and resources. Three public meetings are held during the initial development of each plan. Click here for this park's master plan.