Camping at Douthat State Park – May 21-23, 2021

Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, I was able to make weekend reservations at Douthat State Park near Clifton Forge, Virginia. We’ve done two day trips to Douthat for First Day Hikes, but we’d never camped there.

We were packed up and ready to go around 1:00 pm on Friday.

This is a large and well-established state park with 4 separate campgrounds, and we had a “non-specific” site in White Oak. Getting into this campground involves crossing a creek on a low bridge. While it was certainly wide enough for our car and trailer, I drove across right in the center!

There were still several sites to choose from by the time we arrived and we chose site #14. This was a back-in site (as are most in this campground) and not very level. The door side of the trailer needed to come up about 4″, and we also had to raise the back end and lower the front end of the trailer.

This was the first opportunity we’d had to try out our new Andersen leveler, and it worked great. As a general word to the wise, though, be sure your trailer wheels are well chocked before disconnecting from your tow vehicle especially when a site isn’t level!

After we had everything set up, we drove down to the beach area of the lake.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails “puddling” on the beach

It was so peaceful and relaxing…. Wayne stretched out on one of the benches near the lake and quickly fell asleep! When he woke up, he took this picture of the blue sky and green leaves.

Dinner that evening was Shrimp Scampi & Linguine (a Bertolli frozen meal) cooked outside in the electric skillet. After dinner, Wayne started a campfire, and it cooled off so much later in the evening that I needed to put on my sweatshirt jacket. Nice sleeping weather!

The next morning, Wayne fixed breakfast outside. I’ve said it before, but the electric skillet is one of the best things we’ve found for food preparation when we’re camping; we rarely take our propane stove with us now.

Scrambled eggs with onion, garlic and cheese – Bush’s vegetarian baked beans – bagels & cream cheese – coffee

I wanted to make a quick trip into Clifton Forge to look around and also to pick up a couple of things at a grocery store.

ALSO, I wanted to get a picture of myself at the Amtrak station. One of my cousins who grew up in Clifton Forge recently made a cross-country train trip and she was able to get a quick picture of herself at the station. This was my “Hi, Jane!” moment. 😉

Clifton Forge has been a railroad town for years and years. Two of my grandmother’s brothers moved to this small town to work for the C&O railroad, and a great-great uncle on my grandfather’s side lived and worked there, too, as did other relatives!

We decided to “stop by” the C&O Railway Heritage Center on our way out of town and had NO idea that we’d spend the next couple of hours there! We took so many pictures that I put them in a separate blog post that you can view here. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

When we got back to our campsite, we sat outside for a while and enjoyed watching the various critters that stopped by:

Oh, and funny thing–we heard an Eastern Whip-poor-will both nights at Douthat State Park; I hadn’t heard one in years! In the link it says, “They chant their loud, namesake whip-poor-will song continuously on spring and summer evenings,” and that is the truth! I don’t know how or when it ever took a breath because it sang non-stop. 🙂

It was warm Saturday afternoon and Wayne wanted to go to the lake to swim. Hmmm. I put my bathing suit on but I was pretty sure I’d just watch from the sidelines.

Wayne ventured out into the lake, but pretty quickly he ventured right back to the beach. As he put it, ice cubes would not have melted in the water! Made me laugh!

As he sat on the beach in front of me drying off and warming up, I thought of how fortunate and how blessed we were to simply be in this beautiful place…. We are so very thankful for all of the healing that has taken place since November 2020.

When we got back to the campground, I took this picture of the hood of my car. Can you say, “Ah-CHOO!”? So just as mountain lakes are still going to be super cold in May, camping in a forest in the springtime is going to expose you to a lot of pollen!

For dinner Saturday night we fixed another delicious Bertolli frozen meal. While the fridge and freezer in the trailer are small, it’s so nice to have the ability to keep things frozen.

After dinner, we sat outside talking and listening to the Whip-poor-will until the campfire burned down to embers.

With check out time at 1:00 pm, we had time to go back to the lake on Sunday morning.

With a lake this size, one of the obvious attractions is fishing. In addition to needing a regular VA State fishing license and a trout license, the park charges an $8/day fee for fishing from early April until mid-June. During this time the lake is stocked with trout twice a week, and we saw people catching HUGE trout while we were there!

Below the dam is Wilson Creek. It’s a very pretty area that we’ve visited on our previous day trips.

While this was our first camping trip to Douthat, we hope to go again sometime!

Until next time,

Sharon & Wayne

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One Response to Camping at Douthat State Park – May 21-23, 2021

  1. Jane Farrar Montague says:

    Well – – – you have captured the essence of Douthat. Being only a 10 minute drive from Clifton Forge, I spent lots of time at that park over my pre-adult years. When we were very young our Moms would take us there to swim while they gossiped and talked. As we got older, we would be carpooled there by some of the parents. Then of course when we could drive, it was a favorite teenage hangout all summer. Often our parents would show up with a picnic dinner in late afternoon. I loved hiking the trails around the lake, mostly with my Dad. Besides swimming, we could rent row boats and paddle boats and we had our own canoe, that my brother had built. Then one or two summers I worked at the park. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

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