GENERAL INFO: 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.
Wildlife: 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.
Park size: 739 acres.
Current Weather: Call (804) 435-2111 or click here to visit the Weather Channel's site for this zip code.
AT-A-GLANCE: The pictographs directly below show park offerings. Click on those of interest or read below for more detail. Mouse-over the image for a short text description or click here to view a legend in which each pictograph's meaning is expressed.
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.
It's 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 MAP: Click here.
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 overnight 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.
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.
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.
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 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 season is March 1 to first Monday in December. There are no designated swimming areas at this park.
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.
CABINS / CAMPING: Click here for park fees.
SWIMMING: There are no designated swimming areas.
TRAILS: Hiking, bicycle and equestrian.
Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of Belle Isle's trails.
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 7.5 miles of shoreline on the Rappahannock River, Deep and Mulberry Creeks, in addition to the seven varieties of wetlands and coastal agricultural fields.
HUNTING: Click here to learn about this park's hunting opportunities.
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.
EVENTS: Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
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.
NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS: Canoe tours. Bay Seafood Festival, early September. Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
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.
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.
Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee.
SPECIAL FEATURES: None.
CONCESSIONS: Tackle, motorboat, canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals are available.
LAUNDRY: Available for campers.
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. To join or learn more about the friends group, please contact its president at (804) 462-7055. The group hosts the Belle Isle State Park 5K Trail Run/Walk in September each year. Click here for race information and the registration form.
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 (PDF) for this park's master plan.
CONTACT INFO: Belle Isle State Park, 1632 Belle Isle Rd., Lancaster, VA 22503; phone, (804) 462-5030; email, belleisle. Learn more about park offerings by calling 1-800-933-PARK or emailing resvs. Be sure to specify the park of interest.