Are you planning a Virginia State Parks camping trip? Here are a couple tips to get you started on your journey!
Recently, Virginia State Parks switched their online reservation system from ReserveAmerica to their own reservation system, ReserveVAParks.com. The system is easy to use and stores all your information and reservations, including your Customer Loyalty Program points. They also updated the method for redeeming points, making them easy to track and use. You earn points for all overnight lodging and can redeem for more overnight lodging (or annual pass). I have taken advantage of this program since my first camping trip in Virginia and it is very worthwhile! Be sure to read the fine print, as there are just a handful of exceptions. For instance, Breaks Interstate Park is not included in the program because it is owned by Virginia and Kentucky and is not a part of the online VSP reservation system.
Due to the partnership of VSP and REI, there are several benefits not to be missed. For a one-time fee of $30, you can become a lifetime member of REI. Once you have your membership number, call VSP to register your number with your Customer Loyalty Program account. Then you will start receiving a 10% discount on all of your VSP camping reservations! Just think about it. After roughly four weekend camping trips, you will have paid for the REI membership with the money you saved. Plus, you can also earn dividends on your REI purchases. Another advantage is that you get free parking at any VSP with an REI receipt. So when you shop at REI, be sure to save your receipt. Then, if you are planning a day trip to a park, you can enter for no charge. Be sure to get an actual paper receipt at check-out. A digital emailed receipt will not work.
Our goal is to camp at every VSP that offers camping, but we also have a goal of visiting every single one of the 41 parks. So naturally, we are excited about the Trail Quest program. You can create an account for every family member and conquer this quest together! If you have already hiked at several parks, don’t worry, you can retroactively record your visited parks. Earn 5 cool pins (we pin ours to our hiking packs) along the way and when complete, you become a Master Hiker and receive a certificate and have your photo posted on VSP social media. I love to see these posts of individuals, couples, friends, and families who have reached this goal! There is also a new program to check out (that I'm excited about!): Wandering Waters Paddle Quest.
Want to see those Master Hiker photos, as well as upcoming park events, tips, fun facts, and neat photos? Follow VSP on Facebook at facebook.com/VirginiaStateParks and on Instagram @vastateparks.
We wanted some way to commemorate each step of our state park journey, so we began purchasing a hiking medallion at every park store on our camping trips. In our family room, we have two wooden canoe paddles that are displayed on the wall, proudly showcasing our medallions. So, be it stickers, pins, or medallions, find something to mark your journey.
Pets are allowed in all Virginia State Parks. One great aspect of camping is that you don’t have to worry about boarding the dog or finding a pet sitter. There is a pet policy and pet fees apply to cabin stays, but bring the critters along. They may be in desperate need of a bath when you get home, but the exercise and the sleep it induces are well worth it!
We love chatting with the camp hosts during our visits. Many of them are traveling from park to park and enjoying an adventurous life in their retirement. We learn about places they’ve visited, more about the park and the area we are staying in, and other fun tips. The same thing applies to the office staff and rangers. The parks are full of friendly, helpful, fun people!
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