Discover the 12 Best National Parks in Virginia

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: April 29, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Douglas Rissing
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Virginia is home to a multitude of national parks that have preserved the history of early America. These landscapes are home to many animal species, including birds like falcons, hawks, sparrows, and large mammals like elk and black bears. According to Ecological Applications, most state parks in Virginia suffer from a range of invasive plant species. 

Let’s dive into 12 of the best national parks and other public lands that can be found in Virginia!

1. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
The Appomattox Court House National Park was established to preserve this historical site and its land

Doug Coldwell – License

 Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
Size1,774 acres
Animal to seeSparrow
Attraction to seeMcLean House

The site that marked the end of the Civil War can be visited in Appomattox, Virginia. On April 9, 1865, the South’s surrender was accepted in the McLean House. The Appomattox Court House National Park was established to preserve this historical site and its land. Visitors can still see the McLean House today, and explore all of the other historical aspects of Appomattox. The park covers over a thousand acres of land and is home to many Virginia species, such as woodchucks, skinks, and sparrows. 

2. Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains Virginia
The Blue Ridge Mountains covers over 90,000 acres of land

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 Blue Ridge Mountains
Size93,390 acres
Animal to seefalcon
Attractions To seeBlue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Mountains go through Virginia and North Carolina and are one of the most breathtaking national parks in the south. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers more than 400 miles of road where visitors can enjoy many scenic views. The park itself is massive and covers over 90,000 acres. These mountain ranges protect a diverse population of plant and animal life. You may come across elk, river otters, and falcons. 

3. Cape Henry Memorial

Cape Henry Memorial Virginia
Cape Henry Memorial protects the important landmarks of America’s history

Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock.com

 Cape Henry Memorial
Size0.25 acres
Animal to seeHawk
Attraction to seeMemorial Cross

Fort Story, Virginia marks one of the first locations where early settlers landed when they first arrived in America. Over one hundred years later, it also saw one of the biggest naval battles during the Revolutionary War. The Cape Henry Memorial is part of the Colonial National Historical Park established in the town. It protects the important landmarks of America’s history and is home to many animals that make their home along the shore. You may come across squirrels, field mice, and hawks during your visit. 

4. Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park

Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Parks are located in the Shenandoah Valley

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Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park
Size3,712 acres
Animal to seeBlack bear
Attraction to seeShenandoah Spirits Trail

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Parks are located in the Shenandoah Valley. It has a rich history full of Native American culture that can still be experienced today. The valley also played an important role in early American agriculture and was once full of rolling wheat fields. This area in Virginia was the site of many significant Civil War events, such as the Battle of Cedar Creek. Remnants of the battles can still be seen in the valley’s fields. Many native Virginia animals live in the surrounding forests. The park covers more than three thousand acres and is home to black bears and deer. 

5. Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe is also known for Captain John Smith and his numerous exploits in the New World

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Fort Monroe National Monument
Size565 acres
Animal to seeJellyfish
Attraction to seeCasemate Museum

Virginia is full of historical sites from the Civil War, including Fort Monroe. The fort is also known for Captain John Smith and being a staging ground for his numerous exploits in the New World. The National Monument was established to reflect this rich history and educate visitors about Fort Monroe’s role in America. There is still preservation work going on to protect land and landmarks around it. Around the moat of the Fort, you may notice waterfowl and jellyfish

6. George Washington Birthplace National Monument

George Washington Birthplace National Monument
The George Washington Birthplace National Monument covers 550 acres of land

Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

George Washington Birthplace National Monument
Size661.7 acres
Animal to seeRacoon
Attraction to seeColonial Revival Farm

In the northernmost part of Virginia, you can visit the birthplace of George Washington, America’s first President. The George Washington Birthplace National Monument covers more than 500 acres of land that once served as the Popes Creek Plantation. 

During your visit, you can see the home Washington was born in, as well as historical structures, a burial ground, and a Colonial Revival farm. There is also access to a public beach and picnic grounds for enjoying a relaxing afternoon. A number of animals can be found in the area, including raccoons, deer, and squirrels. 

7. Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park
At Great Falls Park, you might come across otters, beavers, or deer along the water’s edge

iStock.com/Douglas Rissing

Great Falls Park
Size800 acres
Animal to seeRiver otters
Attraction to seePatowmack Canal

Great Falls Park is one of the major landmarks in Virginia, it is situated along the banks of Potomac River. The river turns into a waterfall that flows into the jagged rocks of Mather Gorge. Great Falls is barely fifteen miles away from the United States capital, Washington DC. The waterfall is surrounded by 800 acres of land that preserves the country’s early history. You can explore the Patowmack Canal, or hike the numerous trails. You might come across otters, beavers, or deer along the water’s edge. 

8. Green Springs National Historic Landmark District

Green Springs National Historic Landmark District
The protected land of Green Springs is home to many of the native species that call Virginia home

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Green Springs National Historic Landmark District
Size14,000 acres
Animal to seeLoon
Attraction to seeFarmsteads

Green Springs is a National Historic Landmark District that expands through Louisa County, Virginia. This national park covers 14,000 acres and is home to numerous historical structures. Several preserved farmsteads can be dated back to the 19th century. While Green Springs is privately owned, several public roads offer wonderful views of the landscape. The protected land of Green Springs is home to many of the native species that call Virginia home. The area is home to loons, elk, raccoons, and more. 

9. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry stretches across three states, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland

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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Size3,660.73 acres
Animal to seeCatfish
Attraction to seePotomac River

Harpers Ferry stretches across three states, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. It brings nature and history together and offers plenty of educational opportunities for visitors to enjoy. You can see the site of John Brown’s Raid, which is credited as one of the events that jump-started the Civil War. You can marvel at the water of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, or hike the trails that wind through the Blue Ridge Mountain range. The rivers are home to several fish species, such as catfish and carp. 

10. Historic Jamestowne 

Historic Jamestowne 
Historic Jamestowne is home to many animal species, such as skunks, raccoons, snakes, and turtles

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Historic Jamestowne 
Size20.63 acres
Animal to seeSkunk
Attraction to seeJamestowne Foot Bridge

The site that started the colonization of America can be visited in James City County, Virginia. Historic Jamestowne was the start of Captain John Smith’s explorations through the countryside and where he met Pocahontas. The settlement was first established in 1607 and had turned into a thriving colony by 1619. This historical site is one of the best places to learn about the early beginnings of the United States. It’s home to many animal species, such as skunks, raccoons, snakes, and turtles. 

11. Petersburg National Battlefield 

Petersburg National Battlefield 
Petersburg National Battlefield cover 9,368 acres of land

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Petersburg National Battlefield 
Size9,368 acres
Animal to seeFox
Attraction to seeCentre Hill Mansion

The Battle of Petersburg during the Civil War lasted for nine and a half months as General Ulysses S. Grant and his troops attempted to take Petersburg. There were over 70,000 casualties throughout the battle. The Petersburg National Battlefield was established to commemorate this historic event and covers land home to many of Virginia’s wildlife species. You may find deer, shrews, and foxes. 

12. Prince William Forest Park

Prince William Forest Park
Prince William Forest Park was first opened as the Chopawamsic Recreation Area in 1936

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Prince William Forest Park
Size15,000 acres
Animal to seeWhite-tailed deer
Attraction to seeMarine Corps Museum

The Prince William National Forest Park is one of the less well-known sites in Virginia. It was first opened as the Chopawamsic Recreation Area in 1936. The area held relief camps for children during the Great Depression. In 1948, it was renamed the Prince William Forest Park. The woods are full of lush trees, babbling brooks, and multiple wildlife species native to Virginia. You might see deer, raccoons, birds, or snakes during your visit. 

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