My wife and I traveled to Beartree Lake Recreation Area
to spend five days. This was our third trip there, and our second trip there to camp. The last time we camped there we tented. This was our first trip back with our Casita
. We had scoped out the campground last May and had decided that the finest campsite in the entire campground was #37, and we nabbed it online some months back. And a good thing, too, because the campground ended up filling fast as the holiday weekend approached.
Beartree Lake Recreation Area is part of the larger Mount Rogers Recreation Area
, and is located about eight miles south of Damascus VA on Highway 58. The area is unbelievably scenic with lots of high mountains (all of VA's 5,000-foot peaks are nearby), many waterfalls, lots of trails (including the Appalachian Trail), and the famous Virginia Creeper Bike Trail
The facilities are nice, but basic. There are no hookups. So if you use much power, a generator
is a must. You cannot use a generator
between the hours of 10pm and 10am. There are water sources spaced throughout the campground and no site is very far from one. There are a number of bathhouses with flush toilets, sinks, and hot showers. Only one shower stall per bathhouse. If you choose your bathing times wisely, you don't have to wait in line. My only complaint about the showers is that the water is sometimes too hot, and there's no way to adjust it. Oh, well. Better than too cold, I reckon.
Each site is very private. There are decent distances betwen adjacent sites, and lots of rhododendron to create a nice fence between each camper. There is a lake three miles from the campsites that allows swimming, canoeing (no motors allowed), and fishing. It's also handicap accessible.
We had a great time. We always do when we vacation there. Damascus is known as the friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail
, and I believe it. The town's entire economy is based around the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the many outdoor activities that are available to those vacationing in the area. There are lots of other campgrounds nearby in the National Forest, in state parks, and at private campgrounds.
I highly recommend this area for anyone wishing to camp. My wife and I and the family we spent the time with all drove down to the Ole Barn Bike and Outfitters and rented bicycles and the shuttle service. We were driven up to the Whitetop Station and let off there at almost 4,000 feet above sea level. We then rode the Virginia Creeper Bike Trail the 17 miles back to Damascus...downhill all the way. You only have to pedal, and briefly, a couple of times in the entire 17-mile return trip. And at the end, the Ole Barn Outfitters is right on the trail and you ride to the door and turn in your bikes. Along the way is an overload of scenery and wonderful bike riding. If you can ride a bike, you can cruise down the Virginia Creeper Trail.
We also did some hiking to the summit of Straight Mountain, visited the nearby Backbone Rock Recreation Area
, and hiked to the Backbone Rock Falls
(one of the most beautiful wateralls I have ever seen).
We packed quite a lot into this trip, but we'll go back. There's still much to see and do that we had to miss.