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Frequently asked questions

What if I can't use my reservation? You have two options. First, you may cancel the reservation and pay the cancellation fee. This must be done prior to the official check-in time on the date of your arrival. If the Customer Service Center is open or will be open again before your scheduled check-in time, you should call the center at 800-933- 7275 to cancel. This speeds the processing of your refund. If the center is closed and will not reopen before your scheduled check-in time, you must call the park to cancel. The park's phone number may be found on the confirmation letter and at the bottom of the park's particular web page.

Your second option is to transfer the reservation to a future time. You can even change the park or type of site. You may not, however, transfer a cabin or lodge reservation to camping, nor may you transfer a portion of a reservation to another time or park. There is no charge to transfer the reservation. Transfers are handled through the Customer Service Center only, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and must take place before the official check-in time of your confirmed reservation. The last opportunity for a transfer of a cabin or lodge reservation is at 5 p.m. on the Monday prior to your scheduled arrival. (Should that Monday be a state holiday, then 5 p.m. on Tuesday is the deadline.) After that time, you must either use the reservation or cancel it and pay the appropriate cancellation fee. If the center is closed, your transfer deadline has expired, and the center does not reopen before your scheduled check-in time, your only option is to cancel. Camping reservations may be transferred through the Customer Service Center up until the official check-in time on the day of arrival. If you are arriving on a Saturday, Sunday or a state holiday, your last opportunity to cancel is the previous weekday at 5 p.m.

How far in advance can I make a reservation? Reservations for cabins, campsites and picnic shelters can be made up to 11 months before the desired date(s).

What are the check-in times? For cabins, it's 3 p.m., and checkout is at 10 a.m. Official check-in for camping is 4 p.m. If a site is available, early check-in is allowed. Checkout for camping is 3 p.m.

What if I arrive late? Except for False Cape and New River Trail state parks, arriving late for camping is never a problem. If park staff is gone for the day, proceed to the campground where you are reserved and select an unoccupied site. Go to the office or contact station the next morning to register. Remember that your reservation is paid so don't put money in the honor camping envelope. Cabin guests expecting to arrive late must make arrangements directly with the park beforehand. The times when the park offices or contact stations are staffed vary widely during the year and between parks. If you are a cabin guest and will be arriving after 4 p.m., please call the park using the phone number on your confirmation letter to make any necessary arrangements. Key or numeric code pick-up and after-hour processes vary by park.

What if I do not cancel but do not show up?
Because we hold the site for you, you would not be entitled to a refund. If you call to cancel after your scheduled check-in time, the first night of your stay will be considered used and an additional night kept for camping or, for cabin guests, the two-night minimum kept, then the early departure policy noted below would apply.

What if I leave early? The early departure policy listed below applies. Checkout time is used to determine the unused portion of the stay. Refunds, if applicable, must be requested at the time of departure.

May I bring my pet? Pets are allowed in Virginia State Parks campgrounds and cabins. A fee is charged per pet per night for cabin stays. Pet fees for cabins, lodges and other facilities are higher than they are for camping. Guests must clean up after their pets and never leave their pets unattended. To avoid potential inconvenience, we ask that you bring proof of current rabies vaccination. Park staff reserve the right to terminate your stay without a refund should your pet be considered a nuisance, and customers will be billed for cabin damage. State regulations prohibit pets on public beaches. Your pet must be confined or kept on a leash no longer than six feet and under constant supervision while in the park. Click here for more information about pets.

When is the Customer Service Center open? The Reservation Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. It's closed on weekends and all state holidays. Recorded information on some topics - cancellation policy, park telephone numbers, hours of operation, check mailing address - is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-933-PARK (7275). Reservations for most cabins, lodges and campsites can be made online but payment must be made in full when the reservation is made. Availability for nearly all overnight accommodations can be checked online at no charge. Click here to visit the online reservation page. A non-refundable $5 transaction fee is charged for all overnight rentals made online, through the call center or by walk-in guests at the park.

Do I have to pay extra for swimming or boat launching? If you are a camping or cabin guest, swimming and boat launching are free (at Kiptopeke, a fee is charged for those leaving boat trailers in the parking lot). Of course these offerings are not available at every park - please check your confirmation letter or the park's particular web page to see if either service is unavailable at the park you are visiting. Parks with such facilities generally allow swimming Memorial Day through Labor Day. Swimming is available for the same number of days as those reserved (e.g., if you've reserved a campsite for one night, you're entitled to one day's swimming). Circumstances beyond our control, such as bad weather or a shortage of qualified lifeguards, may necessitate occasional closure of swimming areas or boat launches. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but no refunds will be provided in such instances. Children wearing diapers in swimming areas and pools must wear sealed plastic pants. Inflatable training devices for young swimmers are recommended and available for purchase at the park.

How about occupancy limits? No more than six people or immediate family are allowed per campsite. ("Immediate family" is defined as all persons who live in the same household.) For cabin occupancy and bed rental information please see the park's web page to determine sleeping accommodations that best fit your party (it's listed under "overnight accommodations"). Please note that maximum cabin occupancy often exceeds number of beds provided. In these cases, you can either make your own sleeping arrangements - for example, brining cots, sleeping bags or air mattresses - or rent rollaway beds, where available, that generally rent for $3 per night. Be sure to rent the rollaway in advance to guarantee that it's in the cabin when you need it.

Cancellation policy:

  • Valid prior to scheduled check-in time only
  • Camping: $10 fee per site deducted from refund; for group campsites that accommodate seven or more people, a $30 fee per site is deducted from the refund.
  • Cabins, yurt, RV trailers or camping cabins: More than 30 days prior to arrival, there is a one-time cancellation fee of $20 per cabin. Within the 30 days prior to arrival, there is a $20 per night fee to reduce the stay or cancel.
  • Lodges: More than 30 days prior to arrival, there is a one-time cancellation fee of $50 per lodge. Within the 30 days prior to arrival, there is a $50 per night fee to reduce the stay or cancel.
  • Call the center for policy on other types of facilities.

Early departure policy:

  • Camping: Unused portion of the stay less one night's fees. Checkout time used to determine unused portion. Stays for two days or less will rarely receive a refund.
  • Cabin: Two-night minimum applies, $20 fee per night canceled due to early departure. Nightly charge applies. The checkout time used to determine unused portion.
  • Lodges: Two-night minimum applies, $50 fee per night canceled due to early departure. Nightly charge applies. The checkout time is used to determine unused portion. Refunds will not be given after 3 p.m. for two-night stays.

Cabin guests are responsible for all damage incurred during their stay and will be charged for missing furnishings.

May I hang a lantern in a tree? Nails and hot lanterns leave permanent wounds in trees so please use lantern hangers if provided.

Are campfires allowed? All campgrounds except False Cape provide a grill or fire ring that can be used for charcoal or wood. Help prevent wildfires. Keep outdoor campfires small and contained within the grill/fire ring provided. Fires must be attended at all times and extinguished when left. Firewood is generally available for purchase at the park. Please leave firewood at home as a firewood quarantine has been established for the following localities: counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William; and the entire cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. It is unlawful to transport firewood from these localities. Firewood can harbor insect pests, such as the emerald ash borer. The transport of infested firewood has been identified as a leading cause in the introduction of harmful forest insects into un-infested forest areas. Help keep our parks pest-free by leaving your firewood at home. Except at First Landing State Park, campers or guests may collect down and dead firewood. Chain saws are prohibited. Fires are not allowed at False Cape State Park. We enforce statewide or local burn bans and the spring prohibition of fires before 4 p.m. Click here for more detail.

How should I handle wastewater? Help reduce water pollution. Dump stations, laundry and slop sinks, where provided, should be used to dispose of wastewater.

When are the quiet hours? Please respect your neighbors. Sound and light travel so lower your voices, radios and lanterns during quiet hours. Quiet hours vary between parks but are generally from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Remember, portable generators should be just as polite.

How many vehicles can I bring? Campers are allowed to bring vehicles and equipment that fit on their designated site. Many parks have hardened areas that clearly define each site. Where site boundaries are less defined, please check with park staff. Expect to pay the daily parking fee for any more than two vehicles. If vehicles or trailers will not fit on the site, they may be parked in overflow areas. Park staffers are the final arbiter of whether the equipment actually fits on the site. Campers are allowed to have guests, however they must pay the parking fee and park vehicles in official parking areas.

Where can I set up on my site? Some parks have designated camping areas within a border. All belongings must be contained within that area. Please confine tents to designated tent pads. If you are unsure as to whether your equipment will fit, please call your park. On those sites without a bordered area, equipment should be within the site and not overflowing onto neighboring sites.

What is the maximum number of nights I can stay? Campsite, cabin and lodge rentals are limited to 14 consecutive nights in a particular park.

How are sites assigned? With the exception of group campgrounds and some primitive parks, all campsites are non-site specific. This means you are guaranteed a site of the type reserved in the park. You are not reserving a specific site: Individual sites are assigned by the park, at the time of your arrival, to best meet the needs of all campers. Parks make every effort to accommodate groups camping together, but it may not be possible to honor all such requests. All guests holding reservations must register for their campsite upon arrival (or, if the contact station or office is closed, the nest day). The registrant is responsible for all occupants of the campsite.

How about group camping? Group camping is available at most parks. At some parks, group areas are available only to those reserving at least two or three sites. Several parks have a large area that can be reserved for a group. Other parks offer group camping by permit through the park only. Please call the Customer Service Center to check on group camping options in the particular park of interest.

Is there a minimum age requirement? You must be at least 18 to reserve a campsite, and someone at least 18 years old must occupy the site.

What's the camping season? Most campgrounds are open March 1 through the first Monday in December; primitive sites are available year-round.

What comes in a cabin? Unless otherwise noted, all Virginia State Parks cabin and lodges have a kitchen with a stove, refrigerator, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, basic pots and pans, dishes, silverware and glassware. A dishcloth, scrubber and dish detergent are also included. Cabins have one bathroom with a shower or tub. See descriptions under the park's particular web page for their bathroom information. Cabins have heat pumps that provide heating and air conditioning. All cabins have fireplaces, except those at Smith Mountain Lake (wood stove instead), Chippokes Plantation, Natural Tunnel (gas logs instead) and the Martin Cottage at Twin Lakes (no working fireplaces). Firewood is available at the park; the charge for firewood varies. Linens will be provided on the beds, including sheets, pillows and blankets. There is no daily maid service so linens are not changed during your stay. Most parks charge for extra linens. One set of towels per person is provided. Bed linens and towels should not be removed from the cabin. A clock radio is provided in each cabin or lodge. There is a hospitality kit containing soap, shampoo and body lotion in the bathroom. Most cabins do not have televisions, telephones, dishwashers, washers and dryers. Exceptions are noted in the park information.

How many vehicles can I bring? Park regulations allow two vehicles per cabin, more for lodges. Extra vehicles may be parked in overflow areas. Some parks charge for extra vehicles. You are allowed to have guests who are not staying overnight. Most parks require that non-overnight guests leave the park before 10 p.m. All guests must pay the published parking fee or admission and park vehicles only in official parking areas.

Where are cabins? How big are they? Climate controlled cabins are available at Bear Creek Lake, Chippokes, Claytor Lake, Douthat, Fairy Stone, First Landing, Hungry Mother, James River, Lake Anna, Natural Tunnel, Occoneechee, Shenandoah River, Staunton River, Smith Mountain Lake, Southwest Virginia Museum, Twin Lakes and Westmoreland state parks. They are available in different sizes to suit every visitor's needs. Belle Isle offers a mansion and guest house, which are rented separately.

One-room cabin (efficiency) - Combination dining-living room with a kitchen and bathroom. Accommodates two. Double bed.

One-bedroom cabin - Combination dining-living room (a maximum of two extra beds are available at an additional charge), bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. Accommodates two with maximum occupancy of four. It generally has one double bed or two twin beds. Douthat and Westmoreland have two single beds. Staunton River State Park also has a double sleep sofa.

Two-bedroom cabin - Combination dining-living room (a maximum of two extra beds are available at an additional charge), two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom. It accommodates four with a maximum occupancy of six. Such cabins generally have a double bed in one bedroom and two twin beds in the other. Some parks offer sofa beds or bunk beds: Please see specific descriptions on the park's web page.

Family lodges - These larger facilities have 5 or 6 bedrooms as well as a large great room, kitchen and several bathrooms. Family lodges are available at Bear Creek Lake, Belle Isle, Claytor Lake, Douthat, Fairy Stone, Hungry Mother, James River, Kiptopeke, Occoneechee, Natural Tunnel, Shenandoah River and Westmoreland. Policies regarding cabin stays, apart from the higher cancellation and early departure fees for lodges, apply as covered above.

Camping cabins - In addition to climate controlled cabins, rustic "camping cabins" are available at Lake Anna, Pocahontas and Westmoreland. Each cabin accommodates four. At Westmoreland, each cabin has four twin beds, and at Lake Anna and Pocahontas, each has two bunk beds. These cabins have no kitchens or bathrooms, and guests must bring their own bed linens and towels. Shower and bathroom facilities in a nearby camping area are free to cabin occupants. A two-night minimum stay applies, but not the week stay requirement.

All lodges follow the cabin stay policies covered above, apart from lodges' higher cancellation and early departure fees.

How many nights' stay is required? Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a week's reservation is required at all cabins, RV trailers and the yurt. Depending on the cabin, the check-in day may be Friday, Saturday or Sunday. If available, cabins, RV trailers and the yurt can be reserved for two-night stays 30 days before the desired check-in. A two-night minimum stay is required the rest of the year. Camping cabins may be reserved for two-night stays any time during camping season. (Stays of less than a week cannot be booked online; contact the Customer Service Center for such arrangements.) Belle Isle has a Monday check-in.

We want your visit with us to be as relaxing and trouble-free as possible. Before you arrive, please become familiar with these few simple facts about Virginia State Parks. Observe the rules and regulations while staying at your park.

Natural surroundings: Help preserve your park. Please do not cut or scar any plants or trees. Collecting any animal or plant is strictly prohibited except by permit from Richmond state parks headquarters or as allowed by the park during environmental education programming. Remember, take only pictures and leave only footprints. And refrain from feeding wild animals.

Litter: Litter and garbage are unsightly and attract and injure animals. Please use the trash dumpsters if available or pack all trash out in our trash-free parks.

May I bring alcoholic beverages? State law permits alcohol use only in private areas (inside a cabin or camping unit) or in areas designated on permits issued by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Trails: Help prevent trail erosion. Walk along designated trails only. Mountain bikes are permitted only on roads and bike trails, not hiking trails. Our trails will take you to the most scenic areas of your park. Please don't create your own trail.

Fireworks: Fireworks are prohibited.

Fishing: Where permitted, valid Virginia fishing licenses are required. Remember, saltwater and special trout waters require licenses too. Please call your park in advance for help or details.

Speed Limits: Interior park roads are generally posted at 25 mph or lower. Helmets are required when operating motorcycles.