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Belle Isle State Park


Getting On The Water At Belle Isle State Park

Belle Isle State Park features an excellent boat ramp, providing boaters with easy access to the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay.

The Northern Neck of Virginia has miles of waterfront, but most of it is privately owned. Area governments are now working to produce more public access to the Chesapeake and its tributaries, which will be a great benefit to local residents and visitors alike.

Fortunately, some of the existing public access to the water is very nice. Perhaps the crown jewel is Belle Isle State Park, a gorgeous 733-acre tract on the Rappahannock River, in Lancaster County.

The park has seven miles of frontage on the north shore of the Rappahannock, and it borders Deep and Mulberry creeks. It features diverse tidal and nontidal wetlands, lowland marshes, tidal coves and upland forests.

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 everywhere. There are eight distinct types of wetlands within the park. These diverse ecosystems make Belle Isle an excellent outdoor laboratory for environmental education.

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 near Litwalton 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. Click here for a map of the general area.

Drive Time: Northern Virginia: two hours; Richmond: two hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach: two hours; Roanoke: five hours
Click here for a Google map.

The rural splendor of Belle Isle State Park

OVERNIGHT FACILITIES: Bel Air Overnight Area (Bel Air Mansion and Guest House) and camping. For information on availability of overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online or call 1-800-933-PARK.

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 that can be rented 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 mansion 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 mansion 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 Mansion, 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. Occupancy of the mansion is limited to six because of fire code requirements. Smoking is not permitted. No camping equipment is allowed in the Bel Air Overnight Area.

The Bel Air Guest House rests 15 feet from a cove on Deep Creek. Picture and bay windows provide beautiful views of sunsets over the Rappahannock River. The children of John Garland Pollard 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. 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.

Belle Isle State Park camping
Camping season is March 1 to first Monday in December.
• 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; starter logs are available at camp store.
Site type: REWA - 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: EW, 28
CABINS / CAMPING: Click here for park fees.
SWIMMING: No swimming.
TRAILS: Hiking, bicycle and equestrian.
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.
• 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.

NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS: Canoe tours.Bay Seafood Festival, early September.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: Mary Ball Washington Museum, Lancaster; 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.
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)..
Call 1-800-933-PARK to reserve. Per car parking fees are in addition to shelter prices.