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Belle Isle State Park

1632 Belle Isle Rd., Lancaster, VA 22503; Phone: 804-462-5030; Email: BelleIsle@dcr.virginia.gov

Location of Belle Isle State Park in Virginia

About this park ...

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Latitude, 37.774414. Longitude, -76.599364.

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General Information

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.

Hours

Dawn - dusk.

Location

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

Park Size

739 acres.

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Cabins, camping

OVERNIGHT FACILITIES

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 Bel Air houseis 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.

There are two houses for rent together or separately. A large frame tent, picnic tables and pig cooker are available for rent to enhance receptions on the waterfront lawn.

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.

During peak season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a week's reservation is required at all state park cabins and lodges. At Belle Isle, the house and guest house are rented from Monday to Monday. Thirty days before the check-in date, they may be reserved for less than a week (still a two-night minimum, however), subject to availability. For the rest of the season, a two-night minimum is required.

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.

First floor

  • Kitchen - fully furnished, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator with ice maker, detergent provided, pots, pans, cooking utensils, measuring cups and a 12-cup coffee maker
  • Laundry room - washer and dryer (detergent not provided)
  • Dining room - dining room table with seats for 10, two side tables with seats for two each (four total), gas fireplace
  • Living room - three sofas, television and VCR, DVD player, satellite dish, gas fireplace
  • Library - one sofa, two chairs, books
  • Deep Creek Bedroom - one queen size bed, one dresser, accessible bathroom (shower), adjacent second bathroom with claw foot tub
  • Maid's Room - one day bed, full bathroom

Second floor

  • Pollard Bedroom - one queen bed, full bathroom, heated whirlpool tub (no shower), dresser, working fireplace, television with satellite dish
  • Rappahannock Bedroom - two twin beds, one dresser, closet, shared full bathroom
  • Northwest Bedroom - one twin bed, one dresser, closet, shared full bathroom

Overall

  • All linens are provided
  • Smoking is not allowed
  • Occupancy is limited to six. This is because of fire code requirements.
  • Check in is 3 p.m., check out is 10am, weekly rental runs Monday through Monday
  • Two canoes and four bicycles for adults are available

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. It can be rented weekly along with Bel Air Mansion.

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.

  • Kitchen - fully furnished; microwave, portable dishwasher (detergent provided), 12-cup coffee pot, pots, pans, flatware, cooking utensils, measuring cups
  • Master bedroom - queen size bed, closet, vanity top with sink and drawers for storage; shared, full bathroom
  • Bedroom - bunk bed - full-size on bottom, single on top, drawer in bottom; shared, full bathroom
  • Has two full-size sofa beds; no bed rentals

Great room

  • Overnight - TV-VCR combination, DVD player, two full-size pull-out sofas and matching chairs, operational fireplace, round dining table

Overall

  • All linens are provided
  • Smoking is not allowed
  • No more than eight people are allowed overnight in this building.
  • Check in is 3 p.m., check out is 10 a.m. Weekly rentals run from Monday through Monday
  • Two canoes and four bicycles for adults are available

Reservation codes
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 the given season's required number of 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 fee of $10 is required for processing special use permit requests; checks should be made payable to Treasurer of Virginia.

  • The number of overnight guests must not exceed that permitted by the park and state codes.
  • Smoking inside of the buildings is not permitted.
  • Guests are not guaranteed check in to the buildings earlier than 3 p.m. If set up of tents or other equipment on the grounds is necessary, it may be possible to begin by 10:30 a.m. the day of your arrival, but this must be approved by park staff prior to the day.
  • Guests must check out of the buildings by 10 a.m. the day of departure. If take-down and removal of tents or equipment is necessary, you will be allowed until 2 p.m. of the day of departure. All grounds should be cleaned by then as well.
  • Quiet time for the area is 10 p.m. All outside guests, those not spending the night, must leave by then.
  • Alcoholic beverages may be served (not sold) at the function. A banquet permit is required from the ABC Board, and a copy must be given to park staff at least one week prior to the event. The ABC Board generally takes from two to three weeks to process the request so plan accordingly.
  • If more than 75 people are expected to the event, portable toilets must be rented by the applicant. The design load of the building restrooms is insufficient for greater than that number. (Additional people's usage will overload on the septic system.)
  • A special use permit issued by the state is required for tents covering more than 800 square feet from private vendors.
  • Guests not spending the night at the Bel Air area will be charged a parking fee at the rate that is in effect that day. Organizers can arrange for the park staff to keep a tally of the number of vehicles and make one payment after the event is finished.
  • Mooring of boats at the dock is permitted during the event, however, overnight mooring for those not spending the night in the buildings is not permitted.
  • Vendors, such as caterers, rental companies, etc., must give park staff beforehand a certificate of insurance of the type and amount(s) specified by the state. Parking fees are charged to vendors, although the fee can be tallied by the park and charged to the event organizer.
  • The Bel Air area is provided "as is." Efforts to accommodate electrical, water and other needs will be made, but there is no guarantee that they will be met, especially when the need exceeds the design.

*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).

Camping

Camping season is March 1 to first Monday in December. There are no designated swimming areas at this park.

  • All sites have electric pedestals, which accept plugs for 20, 30 and 50 AMP current.
  • Reservations are not site specific. Check-in is 4 p.m.; check-out is 3 p.m. If you arrive earlier than 4 p.m., the park will accommodate as soon as possible. You are welcome to enjoy the park until then.
  • Campsites have fire ring grills, one picnic table and lantern hangers.
  • Full-service bathhouse with hot showers and wash sink for dishes.
  • Laundry facilities are at the campground bathhouse.
  • All equipment must be set up within borders. Tent pads are 15’ x 24’.
  • Two vehicles per campsite; extra vehicles must park in parking lot and pay the parking fee. Guests visiting campers must pay the standard daily parking fee and park in the proper parking lot. Also, visitors must pay for any day use services and leave the park by 10 p.m.
  • Boat trailer parking and additional parking are just inside the campground entrance.
  • A dump station is free for those camping in the park; non-overnight guests must pay to use the dump station.
  • Boat launch is free for overnight guests.
  • Camp store: Camping and picnic supplies and gift items are available.
  • Firewood is for sale. Do not bring firewood.

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

Camping Lodge (bunkhouse): Check-in is 3 p.m., check-out is 10 a.m. The camping lodge is available ony during camping season, which is March 1 through the first Monday in December. This facility is not reserved 11 months in advance. Rather, it goes on sale January each year.

  • Same transfer deadline, cancellation and pet fees as cabins.
  • Linens not provided.
  • Up to 14 people maximum; no extra bed rentals.
  • Two-night minimum. No weekly stay requirement.
  • No bathroom, kitchen, air conditioning or heat.
  • Three rooms. There are two sets of bunk-beds in one room, another room with one bunk-bed, and four sets of bunk-beds in the third room. Each room has screened windows and electrical outlets.
  • Use campground bathhouse for bathroom and showers.
  • No fireplace.
  • Picnic table and fire ring grill.

CABINS / CAMPING: Click here for park fees.

Recreation

TRAILS

Hiking, bicycle and equestrian.

Va. Outdoors sign

Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of Belle Isle's trails.

SWIMMING

There are no designated swimming areas.

FISHING, BOATING

Fishing: Saltwater bank fishing. A valid Virginia saltwater fishing license required.

Boating: The park offers guided canoe trips during the summer season. A new 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 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.

Equipment

  • Canoes and single kayaks - $8 an hour
  • Tandem kayaks - $10 an hour, $30 full day
  • Motorboats - $15 or $22 an hour (minimum two hours); $90 or $110 full day
  • Bikes - $3 an hour

HORSES

Bridle paths are available. State law requires that visitors carry a copy of a negative Coggins report with each horse brought to the park.

Park Trail Guide

Click here for the park's trail guide.

Nearby Attractions

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.

Picnic Shelters

Three picnic shelters overlooking the historic Rappahannock River 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.

  • Humphreys Shelter (Shelter 1): It can accommodate up to 70 within the shelter and another 40 about it. It is universally accessible, offers beach access (great for fishing, with a valid Virginia fishing license), and features a great view of the waterway. It includes a pig-cooker, grills, picnic tables, electrical outlet, and is 100 feet from parking, 100 feet from a playground and 200 feet from a restroom.
  • Rappahannock Shelter (Shelter 2): It can accommodate up to 70 within the shelter and another 40 about it. It is universally accessible, offers beach access (great for fishing, with a valid Virginia fishing license - there are no designated swimming areas), and features a great view of the waterway. It includes a grill, picnic tables and is 100 feet from parking and 140 feet from a restroom.
  • Deep Creek Shelter (Shelter 3): It can accommodate up to 24 within the shelter and another 20 about it. It is universally accessible. There's no fishing, but it features a great view of the waterway. It's accessible by boat. It includes grills, picnic tables and is 80 feet from parking and 35 feet from a restroom.

Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee.

Meeting Space and Facilities

MEETING, CONFERENCE, WEDDING FACILITIES

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.

VISITOR CENTER, GIFT SHOP

Belle Isle's camp store has a gift shop. The store sells fishing licenses and carries bait, beverages and other items.

RESTAURANT

None at this park.

LAUNDRY FACILITIES

Available for campers.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

The center is available for educational programs provided by the park, and the diverse ecosystems make Belle Isle an excellent outdoor laboratory for environmental education.

Other Info

ACCESSIBILITY:

  • Three picnic shelters are accessible; shelter restrooms are accessible.
  • 1,000-foot boardwalk with observation deck is accessible, as is the fishing pier.
  • Because of the historic nature of the mansion, we are in the process of designing an appropriate access that will maintain the character of the facility.
  • The park office and camp store are accessible.
  • Although motorized vehicles are not permitted on park trails, electric powered wheelchairs and electric scooters that meet the federal definition for wheelchairs are allowed to enable people with disabilities to use the trails.

NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS

Canoe tours. Bay Seafood Festival, early September. Click here to view all parks' events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.

CONCESSIONS

Tackle, motorboat, canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals are available.

HISTORY:

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, which is not a part of the park, is owned by the Gruis family.

FRIENDS GROUP

Friends of Belle Isle State Park, a nonprofit citizen group, helps support the park. The group's mission is to help conserve the park's natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources. It supports several park events, including Music by the River concerts during the summer and the Haunted Evening program in October. The group also hosts the Belle Isle State Park 5K Trail Run/Walk in September each year. To join or learn more about the friends group, please write to Friends of Belle Isle State Park, P.O. Box 35, Mollusk, VA  22517-0035.

MASTER PLAN

Master plans must be written for parks before they're built. The plans are updated at least once every five 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.

 

Upcoming Events

 
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At a Glance

The pictographs directly below show park offerings. Mouse-over the image for a short text description or click here to view a legend in which each pictograph's meaning is expressed.
BikingBoat LaunchBoat Rentals, Canoe AccessCabins, Family LodgesCamp Store/Gift ShopCampground, Camping Lodges **, Group CampingDump StationEquestrianHikingMotor Boats PermittedNature/Cultural ProgramsParking feePicnic Shelter Rentals, Picnic TablesPier, ShorePlaygroundsRestroomsShowersUniversally Accessible
Biking, Boat Launch, Boat Rentals, Canoe Access, Cabins, Family Lodges, Camp Store/Gift Shop, Campground, Camping Lodges **, Group Camping, Dump Station, Equestrian, Hiking, Motor Boats Permitted, Nature/Cultural Programs, Parking fee, Picnic Shelter Rentals, Picnic Tables, Pier, Shore, Playgrounds, Restrooms, Showers, Universally Accessible