BELLE ISLE STATE PARK
Belle Isle has seven miles of shoreline on the Northern Neck's Rappahannock River and provides access to Mulberry and Deep creeks. The park lets visitors explore a wide variety of tidal wetlands interspersed with farmland and upland forests. It has a campground, three picnic shelters, hiking, biking and bridle trails, and motor boat and car-top launches. Belle Isle also offers overnight lodging at Bel Air and the Bel Air Guest House. Bicycle, canoe and kayak rentals are available. Guests also enjoy the park's universal access playground, boardwalk and fishing pier, and educational programs.
The diverse habitats found in the park provide homes to many predator birds, such as blue herons, osprey, hawks and bald eagles. White-tailed deer, turkeys, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, moles, reptiles and amphibians are also common. There are eight distinct types of wetlands within the park. These diverse ecosystems make Belle Isle an excellent outdoor laboratory for environmental education.
The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. John Bertrand, a Huguenot, first acquired the property in 1692. The Downman family operated Belle Isle Plantation on the site throughout the 19th century. The Somers, Pollard, and Hamlin families owned the properties until the recent state acquisition. The historic Belle Isle Plantation House, previously owned by the Gruis family, has recently been acquired by the park but is not yet open.
The park offers full-service and primitive camping. The full-service camping season is from the first Friday in March to the first Monday in December. Primitive camping is year-round. There are no designated swimming areas at this park.
The Bel Air Overnight Area Bel Air houseis a 33-acre peninsula of land at the mouth of Deep Creek in Lancaster County. Views of beautiful sunsets over the Rappahannock River make this Northern Neck landmark an ideal place to spend a week with friends, family or associates.
Two houses may be rented together or separately.
The facility is well suited for weddings and other large events. Any event likely to have more than normal occupancy, however, requires prior approval by park staff. Many issues, such as catering, parking, bathroom access, set-up and alcoholic beverage permits, may require park special use permits. Also, all house guests are equally liable for damage to furnishings.
The Bel Air House also called the Mansion for reservations, and the Guest House areavailable for rent year-round. Depending on the time of year, a two-night, four-night or week-long minimum stay may be required. Those planning a wedding or family reunion should be aware that both houses must be rented for the event.