False Cape State Park
Open: Open all year
No vehicular access. Located in southern Virginia Beach, False Cape State Park is a mile-wide barrier spit between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Access is through the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and is limited to hiking, bicycling or boating. The park features primitive camping and an extensive environmental education program in one of the last undisturbed coastal environments on the East Coast.
In the 1800s, False Cape gained a reputation as a ship’s graveyard. The area got its name because its land mass resembled Cape Henry, luring boats into shallow waters. One of the area’s first communities, Wash Woods, was developed by survivors of such a shipwreck. The village’s church and other structures were built using cypress wood that washed ashore from a wreck.
Vehicular access to False Cape State Park is prohibited because the park is land-locked on the southern end of the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Those wishing to visit the park for the day must either bike or hike through the refuge (via beach or interior trails, and the interior trail is closed from November 1 through March 31), or boat or canoe in down Back Bay. You can also take the Terra Gator, a specially designed vehicle that minimizes impact to this special environment, during this period.
Camping is permitted year-round, but reservations are required. Campsites are in four distinct areas of the park, and those areas are separated by significant distances. The camping areas are Barbour Hill Bay, Barbour Hill Ocean, False Cape Landing Bay and False Cape Landing Ocean. For camping information, contact the State Parks Reservation Center at 1-800-933-7275.
The park accommodates primitive camping, tents only, and offers 12 sites. A maximum of four people are allowed on each of sites 1-9. Sites 10-12 allow six people per site for groups of 12 or more (groups of 12 or more campers are required to be assigned to the area comprising sites 10-12). Drinking water is available in three locations, all in the Barbour Hill section - near the contact station and near the two camping areas there. False Cape Landing campers need to bring empty containers to transport water from the water source. Water not suitable for drinking is available in each camping area. Carry everything in and everything out. There are several pit (i.e., non-flushing) toilets. Open fires are not permitted; camp stoves may be used for cooking.
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