On our return trip to Pennsylvania from the Outer Banks of North Carolina we knew we would be traveling on Easter weekend, so we decided to make a stop in the Washington, D.C., area to visit college friends. After using the Good Sam Trip Planner to locate a few campgrounds along our route we selected Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, Va. What we found at this Northern Virginia Regional Park (NOVA) is an awesome campground that is near the metro line, the beltway, and D.C. attractions.
Although the Pohick Bay campground is not far from the big city, the park has a “off-the-beaten-path” feel, which is not something we have typically found at campgrounds located in metropolitan areas. The campground at Pohick Bay Regional Park will definitely be our base camp when we visit the D.C. area in a few years once the kiddos are a bit older and ready to enjoy all Washington, D.C., has to offer.
Campground: The campground is only 10 minutes off of I-95 and only about 30 minutes south of downtown Washington, D.C., and yet it is set in a pastoral area of northern Virginia. Once you enter the park you are greeted by a large tree canopy and peeping views of the Potomac River.
Before I talk more about the campground let me make two notes about getting to this campground:
- I HATE I-95! Stop and go traffic, narrow lanes, aggressive drivers …. If I never pull a camper (or drive) on that road again, it would be too soon. (Thank you for letting me vent. :)) This is all to say: Do everything you can to avoid hauling a camper along this stretch during high traffic times in and around Washington, D.C. And even in low traffic times, expect the drive to be stressful.
- If you are coming from the south on I-95, most mapping programs will have you get off at Exit 161, but right off the exit there is a low clearance bridge that is also fairly narrow. I believe the clearance was 12′ 10″ which is OK for us but there is evidence of taller vehicles striking this overpass! I recommend using Exit 163 and then approaching the park from the northwest.
At Pohick Bay Campground you can easily come back and relax around a campfire and “get away from the hustle and bustle” after a long day of touring D.C. While the campground was mostly full on Easter weekend (probably due to the holiday weekend, plus cherry blossoms were a their peak) it still did not feel crowded as most sites had some space between them and many had privacy hedges.
The sites were fairly level and large in size. All sites had electric and then some had either water or water/sewer. Just make sure to have long enough water hoses with you because ours just barely reached due to the location of the water connection. Some of the sites–including ours–would be difficult to get into. The road is a one-way road through the campground, but for some sites it would be impossible to make the turn backing into the site. My favorite site in the campground (#50) would be impossible to back into unless you were to drive the wrong way on the road and then back into the site. Our site number 15 was manageable, but it was a very tight turn.
Bathrooms: The bathhouses were on the small side so I’m sure they are very busy when the campground is at full capacity. However, they were clean and in great repair during our visit.
- Hiking trails
- Small camp store
- Frisbee golf course
- Pirates Cove Waterpark
- Boat ramp and rentals for the Potomac River
- 18-hole golf course
Touring the area: There is so much to see in the Washington, D.C., area! The nearest metro station is only about 10 minutes from the park and on our return visit we will definitely use it to access downtown D.C.
We will also want to explore the nearby Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and Mason Neck State Park.
Date of Stay: 3/26/2016; June 2019
Cost per night: Electric/water site was $38 (minus $2 Good Sam discount); with taxes and fees it was $44.66.