Virginia’s First Six State Parks Driving Tour
Officially organized in 1926, the Virginia State Parks system developed out of a reaction to the success of the Shenandoah National Park, which opened to the public two years prior. The Virginia State Commission on Conservation and Development was created and charged with overseeing the development of the parks system. Headed by William E. Carson and heavily influenced by the British landscape architect Bob Burson, in 1932 the Commission proposed the creation of six parks to represent the diverse geography of the Commonwealth. Virginia relied on funding for its state parks through President Roosevelt’s New Deal program, which allotted funding and labor for public infrastructure projects. When construction on the parks began in 1933, thousands of men from across the country organized in dozens of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) companies were assigned to the construction of the six fledgling Virginia State Parks. The Virginia State Parks system opened to the public on June 15, 1936. Today, the parks remain a valuable resource for Virginia, serving as major tourist destinations and invaluable CCC-era time capsules. The driving tour begins with Virginia’s first state park, First Landing State Park, situated near Virginia Beach on the site of the first English landing in North America, and continues east to Staunton River State Park and Fairy Stone State Park along the state’s Southern border. Continuing west, Hungry Mother State Park and Douthat State Park both serve the state’s mountain regions. The driving tour ends at Westmoreland State Park in Virginia’s Northern Neck, providing recreation space for the state’s Northern residents.