Where is Belle Isle State Park
Belle Isle is located in Lancaster County, Virginia, on the Rappahannock River. From Warsaw, travel SR 3 East to SR 354. Turn right. In three miles, turn right onto SR 683 at Somers to discover the park entrance. From Kilmarnock, take Route 3W to Lively. Turn left and follow SR 201 for three miles. Turn right on SR 354. After traveling another three miles, you will see the park entrance as you make a left onto SR 683.
How Big Is Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle State Park offers over 1.4 square miles of Virginia wetland just waiting to be discovered. This park has a total of 892 acres of land with areas for camping, fishing, boating and picnicking with family and friends. The entire area is a natural outdoor laboratory for those interested in studying or simply spending the day in a dense wetland ecosystem. Open to all visitors, Belle Isle is also praised for its ADA-accessibility throughout the majority of the park.
Belle Isle Park Weather
Belle Isle US State Park is open daily, year-round, from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Virginia is known for their warm, humid summers and mild winters. This makes any time of year the perfect time to visit. The weather also makes it possible for diverse habitats to find homes in its eight wetland types throughout the park. Predator birds, such as blue herons, osprey, hawks and bald eagles live inside Belle Isle year-round. White-tailed deer, rabbits, groundhogs, turkeys, squirrels, amphibians and reptiles are also common. These diverse ecosystems make Belle Isle an excellent outdoor education laboratory and a perfect location for seasonal fishing and boating. In the summer months visitors love to canoe and kayak down the Rappahannock River.
When did Belle Isle become a State Park
Belle Isle was the first state park to be purchased with funds from the $95 million 1992 Parks and Recreational Facilities Bond Referendum. The Belle Isle Waterfront was being developed extensively by private landowners. This fact made the state want to quickly purchase Belle Isle for public use. Inside the park is a private-owned Georgian style mansion that once operated as a plantation and is a lovely setting for weddings or overnight stays.
Things to Do at Belle Isle State Park
Come explore the beauty of the Virginia farmland and forests. This waterfront oasis is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Our State Park Visitors Guides encourages bringing your family to explore the diverse ecosystems or just sit back and enjoy.
Belle Isle State Park's Bel Air historic area is known by couples as a perfect location to tie-the-knot. The Colonial-style Bel Air House and Guest House cottage have become iconic Virginia wedding venues and the rental fees for space and permits is quite low.
Get your exercise while enjoying the waterfowl or listening to the songbirds while discovering 12 separate trails, ranging from 0.8 to 1.25 miles in length. Horseback riding, biking and hiking are permitted and there is also one popular handicap accessible trail.
Fishing and Boating
A fishing pier is located at cartop boat launch and saltwater bank fishing is also encouraged at the park. As for boating, a ramp is available and there is an ADA-accessible launch area for canoes and kayaks. For your summer pleasure, Belle Isle also offers guided canoe trips.
The camp store offers canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Canoes and kayaks - $10 an hour, $30 for four hours
Paddleboards - $15 an hour, $45 for four hours Bikes - $5 an hour, $15 for four hours
Belle Isle State Park offers camping from the first Friday in March to the first Monday in December annually. There are 28 campsites equipped with electric and water hookups and a fire ring and four primitive camping sites that guests can either hike or boat-in to enjoy.
Larger camping groups can stay in the Belle Isle Bunkhouse. This is a large camping lodge that sleeps up to 14 people. There is no heating or air. Additionally, the Bel Air Overnight Area includes the Bel Air House and the smaller Bel Air Guest House. These homes provide stunning views for weddings or reunions.
Historic Belle Isle Wagon Tour
Interested in history? Explore the plantation grounds on a wagon tour of the Historic Belle Isle Mansion. This National Register of Historic Places home is privately owned, but daily tours are permitted. You can make reservations at the park office.
Music on the River
Pack a picnic dinner and enjoy a summer concert beside the Rappahannock River. Calendars for the summer concert series are released annually. Entrance to the concert is free, but there is a fee to park. For kids, there are ranger-led games and free popcorn for all.
Future Naturalist Spring Break Program
Teens ages 13-17 can come hike, bike, and enjoy the outdoors at the Future Naturalist Program. During this annual program, local experts teach kids about environmental stewardship, how to identify plants and animals, and where the best places are for observing nature in this part of the state.
Bring the whole family, pack your basket and choose from two large group picnic shelters that overlook the historic Rappahannock River and one that overlooks Deep Creek. These sites are available for rent year-round from sunrise until the park closes.
When to go to Belle Isle State Park
It’s always a good time to visit Belle Isle State Park. The park is open daily, year-round, from sun-up to sundown. Camping is only offered from the first Friday in March to the first Monday in December, annually, but year-round reservations are available for the Belle Isle Mansion and the Belle Isle Guest House. If you love to float on the river, visit during warmer weather and join the many canoeists and kayakers as they float the river on a lazy afternoon. There is no entry fee to the park, but a parking fee and other rental fees do occur.
Must-Haves to Bring to Belle Isle State Park
No matter the season, List of Parks wants you to come prepared for a relaxing day outdoors at Belle Isle State Park. Don’t forget to carry in the following items.
Pack your favorite snack and water for hiking the trails, floating the river and exploring the wildlife preserve. Picnic spots are available and bringing your own food into the park is encouraged. There is also a camp store where you can find basic supplies.
Depending upon your plans for the day, you will need to consider bringing the correct outdoor gear to assure your stay a great one. Bug spray, hiking shoes, jacket, sunglasses, sunscreen and boating/fishing gear are all necessities you don’t want to forget. Don’t forget your fishing license!
Get ready to play “I spy.” Do not miss the diverse habitats found in the park that provide homes to many predator birds, such as blue herons, osprey, hawks and bald eagles. There are eight distinct types of wetlands within the park and the wildlife are abundant.
Even though there is no park entry fee, you will have to pay for parking, camping, lodging and water activity rentals at the camp store.
Where to stay near Belle Isle Park
Further information on camping and the overnight facilities already mentioned (Bel Air House and Guest House) can be found by calling 1-800-933-PARK. There are also many great bed and breakfasts and hotels located just 10-15 miles away in the cities of Irvington and Kilmarnock, Virginia. You can make the most of your Virginia holiday by exploring all the surrounding areas and small towns. Search Airbnb for some beautiful gems with amazing views.
Food nearby Belle Isle State Park
At the camp store visitors can find a few basic snacks and food supplies, but you will still want to stock up on food and drink before spending the day or weekend at the park. There are also great restaurants within a mile of the park entrance such as Julep's New Southern Cuisine, The Corner and The Carwash Cafe.
Airports near Belle Isle State Park
Richmond International Airport and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport are each located approximately 80 miles away from Belle Isle State Park. Each are great options for flying in for a holiday in the Virginia outdoors. Simply Google your directions and before you know it you will find yourself at the entrance to one of the best state parks in Virginia.