Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I park my trailer or RV?
Visitors must camp in designated camping areas. Campsites with hook-ups are only available at Prince William Forest RV Campground. If you don't need hook-ups, you may camp at Oak Ridge Campground if your RV is less than 32' or trailer is less then 26'.

2. Where can I camp?
There are two developed tent campgrounds in the park, located at Oak Ridge Campground and Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground. The campgrounds provide comfort stations, potable water and grills for cooking. There are also primitive campsites located at Chopawamsic Backcountry Area which require a backcountry permit.

3. Can I make reservations for camping?
Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground is available for reservation on recreation.gov.
Oak Ridge Campground is available for reservation from April to October on recreation.gov. From April to October, 40 sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are recommended during holidaytimes.
For primitive camping, Chopawamsic Bakcountry Area use permits are issued on the day of camping at the park visitor center (in person).

4. Are there showers in the park?
The only tent campground in the park with showers is Oak Ridge Campground. Showers are reserved for Oak Ridge campers only.

5. Where can I stay in the park if I'm not tent camping?
Rustic cabins are available by reservation and/or first-come, first-served basis from mid-April through mid-October. Please call the cabin camp office at (703) 221-4706 ext. 401 for more information.

6. Can I use my cell phone in the park?
Cell phone service is available in the park, but do not depend on it. Signal availability and strength varies depending on your location in the park and the service you are using.

7. Where can I eat?
Food is not available in the park. There are, however, many restaurants, fast-food and convenience stores located approximately two miles outside the park in the nearby town of Triangle. There are beverage machines located at the visitor center, Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground, and Oak Ridge Campground.

8. Can we ride horses in the park?
No.

9. Can we bring canoes or kayaks to the park?
Vessel use is allowed by cabin camp groups only with a Certified Water Safety Instructor present. Water Safety Instructor must be identified on the camping permit. This certification must be forwarded to the park superintendent prior to water activities.

10. Is there any place to swim?
Swimming in prohibited in Lakes 1-5, except by permittees in cabin campgrounds with certified lifeguard present. Lifeguards must be identified on the camping permit. You may wade in streams. Swimming in Prince William Forest RV Campground pool is restricted to registered guests only.

11. Can we fish in the park?
Visitors who have been issued a valid Virginia state fishing license may fish. Live bait is not allowed in any of the lakes. Fishing is permitted at Carter's Pond, however, it is catch and release only.

12. Where can I see wildlife?
Much of the wildlife in the park is active at dawn and dusk. These are prime times to look for deer, fox, and beaver. North Valley Trail is especially good. The park's Scenic Drive is a great place to catch a glimpse of deer. Most of the trails are good for birding throughout much of the year. Do not feed any wildlife in the park.

13. Do I have to pay a fee? Where do I pay my park fee?
Visitors are responsible for paying the park entrance fee, unless they have a Prince William Forest Park Annual Pass or any of the America the Beautiful passes. These passes may be purchased at the park visitor center and/or entrance station. Visitors download the park's Pay App to pay the entrance electronically.

14. How long is Scenic Drive?
The loop is 8 miles. If a visitor begins at the Pine Grove Parking Lot near the visitor center, the distance is 12 miles 'round-trip.

15. How many visitors come to the park each year?
Prince William Forest Park has between 285,000 visitors and 355,000 visitors annually.

16. How big is Prince William Forest Park?
15,000 acres.

17. Is this a National Park? When did it become a unit of the National Park System?
Yes, Prince William Forest Park was authorized by the U.S. Congress on November 14,1936. The park was originally named Chopawamsic Recreation Demonstration Area. On June 22, 1948, Congress authorized the park's current name.

18. When is the park's busy season?
For the park's geographic location (32 miles south of Washington, DC and many nearby suburban communities), the park is relatively uncrowded for much of the year. Visitation is highest during the spring,summer, and fall months of the year. More people visit during weekends rather than on weekdays. Visitation is lowest in January and February.

19. How is the park maintained?
Park maintenance staff are outside, on the job, in all kinds of weather. Picnic areas and roadsides are mowed as needed. Since the park is mostly forested, mowing is kept to a minimum. The park is managed as a trash-free area. Visitors are encouraged to pack-out everything they brought into the park. The dumpsters in camping areas are emptied regularly. In snowy and icy winter conditions, park roads are sometimes closed for safety by management. As soon as conditions permit safe travel, maintenance managers may open roads. Please note, when roads close to vehicle traffic, the roads are also closed to bicycles. If visitors experience a maintenance issue, please call the visitor center at (703) 221-7181 or use the "Contact Us" feature on this website.

20. Where is the best place to hike?
The answer is simple, it depends. The park containes 37 miles of hiking trails which wind through many unique and picturesque locations. Whether you prefer hiking in a flat lowland along the water's edge, or the more hilly upland terrain, the visitor center staff may recommend a circuit hike that suits your needs.

21. Are there snakes in the park?
Prince William Forest Park has 17 species of snakes, only two of which are venomous (the Timber Rattlesnake and the Northern Copperhead). Snakes, like all other animals in the park, are protected. Please do not harass or harm them.

22. Do I have to worry about black bears?
Although there are confimed bear populations in the area from time to time, visitors rarely spot this elusive creature. Report any sightings to the visitor center, and practice standard safety procedures concerning black bears.

23. How clean are the streams that run through the park?
Because 80% of the Quantico Creek watershed runs through the park, Quantico Creek has been classified by several studies as one of the highest quality and most biologically diverse streams in the Northern Virginia area. Although the water is clean, we strongly discourage the drinking of the water without properly filtering it of impurities.

Last updated: February 23, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

18100 Park Headquarters Road
Triangle, VA 22172

Phone:

(703) 221-7181

Contact Us