Belle Isle State Park celebrates 30th anniversary on April 22

by | Apr 15, 2023 | Uncategorized

From Virginia State Parks:

Once home to a 19th-century plantation, Lancaster County’s Belle Isle State Park joined Virginia’s state park system in April 1993. Thirty years later, the 892-acre park provides access to the Rappahannock River and welcomes more than 47,000 visitors annually to enjoy its nine miles of trails, seven miles of shorelines, visitor center and diverse wildlife habitats.

In recognition of its anniversary, the park has planned several events for Saturday, April 22, which is also Earth Day.

“The opportunity to celebrate a milestone like the park’s 30th anniversary with our community, Friends group, and park goers is exciting, and to do so with volunteer-led events like the Rapp River Run 5K and Stellar Astronomy is even better,” said Park Manager Katie Shepard. Noting that the initial land purchase for the park was made possible by funds from the 1992 Parks & Recreational Facilities Bond Referendum, Shepard added that “from the very beginning, Belle Isle has been supported by Virginians and is an excellent example of what preserving our public lands can do.”

To start the day, the Friends of Belle Isle State Park host the Rapp River Run 5K Trail Run/Walk beginning at 9 a.m. Finishers will enjoy a celebratory slice of birthday cake, and each registered participant will receive a Rapp River Run ball cap. For more info and to register by the April 19 deadline, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/VA/Lancaster/RappRiverRun.

At 1 p.m., the Earth Day Eagle Hike gathers participants at the park’s car-top boat launch for a walk along Mud Creek Trail to view two of the park’s active eagle nests. Hikers will collect any trash found along the way. Find more information at the park’s events calendar.

Belle Isle boasts a rich history, and visitors can learn about who has called Belle Isle home on the 4 p.m. History Hayride. The park’s “time-traveler wagon” will journey through the park as staff share stories of Belle Isle’s past and future. Guests should pre-register by calling the park office at 804-462-5030.

To finish out the birthday bash, at 7:30 p.m. the park hosts a Dark Sky program: Stellar Astronomy. Retired NASA engineer Brad Perry joins other local astronomers to teach about the stars of the night sky, how light pollution could put an end to stargazing and what steps the park is taking to prevent it. Belle Isle State Park is on its way to joining four other Virginia State Parks as an International Dark Sky Park.

Belle Isle offers camping – both RV and primitive – and overnight accommodations in the Bel Air area. For more information about these or other upcoming programs, contact the park office at 804-462-5030.

Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. For more information about Virginia State Parks’ activities and amenities or to reserve one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.

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