Almost all the camping sites at First Landing State Park Campground have a “back-to-nature” feel, however there are a few spots that have some quirks and features you may want to know about in advance.
Here is an overview of a few of the nuances regarding camping at First Landing. More detailed campsite information is available for each individual site.
Selecting the perfect campsite is no easy feat. No two campsites at First Landing are alike. They all share similar features such as a gravel parking area, compacted dirt campfire area, a picnic table and a fire ring, and are separated by wooden common areas.
But they differ in size, elevation, and density of surrounding common area. For example, a smaller 20 foot by 15 foot tent site might be surrounded by 100 feet of wooded common area; making the size feel huge, secluded, and private. Whereas a 40 foot by 20 foot site might be surrounded by a hilly, sparsely treed common area; making the site feel narrow, cramped, and exposed.
The sites closer to the beach tend to be sandier because they are closer to the dunes and have a “beachy” feel to them. The lower sites tend to feel more “woodsy”.
You can use the map for information related to proximity to bath houses, intersections, and boardwalks.
Picking Your Campsite
You will already know if you need a pop-up, trailer, or RV site, so that will narrow down your options of the 200+ sites available. If you are tent camping, you can choose from any/all of the sites. A bonus to choosing an RV site even if you are tent camping is that you also get electricity and water.
Will you want a large, private, secluded spot? Maybe you’re very social and are looking forward to meeting and interacting with other campers? Want to relax quietly inside your camper, and don’t need a large spot but just want to be close to the beach? We’ve tried to make it easier to find your ideal campsite before you reach the park.
Descriptions are available on this site for most of the individual campsites, which should help you find the sites best suited for you. You can also look through the “Top 10” lists on this site to help guide your choices.
The campsites get reserved fairly quickly, so pick several that you might like just in case the one you want is taken. Another option (if your favorite is taken and you reserved what was available) is to check the reservation system before you arrive to see if someone cancelled or transferred to a different park. And, you can always ask the park staff if there’s another spot more suited to your needs when you arrive.
Location, Location, Location
The perfect site has all the features that you would want. This is obviously different than what someone else might be looking for.
You might think that the campsites closest to the beach side are the best, and then be sorely disappointed to find that a few hundred feet of elevated dunes obstruct the ocean view, and that you are restricted to using the boardwalks to access the beach (walking on the dunes is prohibited; besides, who wants sand burrs stuck in their feet?).
If you are tenting, being near a bathhouse can be really convenient especially with small children. It’s a shorter walk in the dark of night if there’s an “emergency”. The trade off, however, is that there will be a lot of foot traffic by your campsite from other campers headed toward the bathhouse. And, if it has been a particularly wet season, anticipate odor coming from the bathhouse.
There is a sand pit in the common area between the Collier and Windfield loops. It is very popular with children, so if you have kids you may want to camp near it. It can also be a nice place to relax in the sun during the off-season.
Shore Drive Traffic
The campground is located along a busy road, so campsites closer to the road will hear the steady sound of traffic throughout the day, as well as the evenings during the height of tourist season.
Sites closer to the entrance of the campground will be the most impacted by the sounds of traffic, and a few sites even have a direct view of the road.
The positive trade off is that many of the tent sites located directly next to Shore Drive are extremely large and don’t have to share the common area with other campsites. If you don’t want to worry about your children disrupting other campers and want them to have plenty of space to run around and explore, these sites might be a good option.
The campground is directly next to the military Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story. The base is primarily used for training. It’s not uncommon to see military helicopters flying above the trees practicing maneuvers or the sound of artillery fire at least once or twice a day. You will also hear reveille played at sunrise. Depending on your campsite location, you’ll likely barely notice it, and military buffs will love it.
Campsites located on the eastern side of Wingfield and Read loops will have an up close and personal view of the military installation activities. A few sites sit directly in open view of the military fencing.
If you’d rather not hear or see military exercises, select campsites closer to the west side of the campground.
The campground is nestled close to the beach among the dunes and is densely wooded with live oaks, loblolly pines, shrubs, and wax myrtles.
These trees and shrubs provide most of the campsites with partial to full shade. They fill in most of the common area between campsites, which helps to make the campground feel much more secluded.
Some sites have more tree coverage than others, and are thereby much more private. Others have fewer trees in the common area and are visually more open to neighboring campsites and passing campers.
Some of the 20′ RV and trailer sites have low 10 foot tree clearance. Bring pruning loppers just in case you need to trim back a few branches to avoid scraping the top of your camper.
The asphalt roads throughout the campground are fairly narrow and not necessarily level. Most are one-way only, so you don’t have to worry about navigating around on-coming vehicles.
Campsites closer to the ocean sit at a slightly higher elevation than those closer to Shore Drive.
The common areas by campsites closer to Shore Drive sit at a lower elevation and are marsh-like at their lowest points. The marsh water can encroach into a few campsites after a heavy rain. During periods of extreme heat, the marshes can give off a “marshy” odor.
The gravel “driveways” for the majority of campsites are either level or slightly inclined. Most driveways are 20 feet in length, unless otherwise stated.
The campfire and picnic area of each campsite vary greatly in size, and are dependent on the surrounding terrain of the common area.
First Landing State Park is home to beautiful coastal cypress swamps, saltwater marshes, and freshwater ponds. The months of June through August (or longer during a rainy season) tend to be the height of insect season, and with that come a variety of annoying insects. Biting insects are common at most state campgrounds which tend to have a much more natural environment than private campgrounds. Be sure to bring protective clothing and insect spray just in case they are needed.
Campsites at lower elevations and closer to the marsh areas will likely experience insects more than other campsites. By mid-September, there are substantially fewer biting insects.