July 15 – 21, 2007 – What brought me to Chesapeake was a chance to see my daughter who was here visiting her partner’s family. This Chesapeake City Park – Northwest River Park and Campground – turned out to be the perfect spot for that and as a resting place after a month of heavy-duty sightseeing on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I didn’t have time or energy left at that point for any more sightseeing of this area, but just experiencing the peace and quiet of the park was plenty good enough for me.
Here I am in Site #48, a large pull-through in the back loop on the other side of the same bath house. This wasn’t the first site I was in, but I was able to move here after the weekend crowds thinned out. I started out in Site #18, another nice pull through, but it has a quirk. I couldn’t make the turn into it by going down the road the right way – there’s too tight a curve to make it without hitting the big tree on the left side. It’s possible if you can back up into the site across the road. It’s also okay to go around and come in from the other side and the campground was uncrowded enough for that not to be a problem. Hookups are on the opposite side then, but my hoses were long enough to work.
I had hoped I’d get satellite TV here because it looked like I could hit a hole through the heavy tree cover, but I never could. But all in all, I liked this site better. There’s less noticeable light from the bathhouse spotlight, at least the same amount of room if not more, and the front yard doesn’t face the road. The views are better all around and the water connection is within easy distance to the communal connection with a normal size hose.
Speaking of water, each site does not have individual water connections. There are several faucets located around, some interior and some on the road, to fill up. Or you can run a hose to reach the nearest one, but you need to use your own “Y” connection so that others can still have access to water.
My neighbors for the first couple of days were the Seals family from right down the road in Chesapeake. They’ve been coming here as a get-away for 20 years, starting in tents with the kids. Now they like to come for the peace and quiet. They say they like the park because it’s far enough out but not too far – and they like being able to stretch out on these large pull through sites. They’re in their favorite #21 — they have lots of tiki torches and elbow room and are right across the road from the bath house.
Most of the back-in sites are pretty spacious as well. This one is #9, also located near the communal water connection, this one near the side of the road.
Don’t miss a walk along one of the seven trails. This bridge with its chainsaw carved posts can be found on the Deer Island Trail.
Here’s a nice restful area found by taking Otter Trail or Indian Creek Trail.
I’m always happy for a chance to get out on the water, so was glad to be invited along on this pontoon boat ride down the Northwest River. It’s about a 2-1/2 hour ride that took us into North Carolina waters and back.
Captain Mike pointed out items of interest along the way, like this osprey nest built on a dead tree in the middle of the river – unusual because they usually prefer much loftier sites. They’re not nesting now, but we saw several flying around, one celebrating his catch of a fish after a nose dive into the water.
We also saw a great blue heron, cormorant, broad tail hawk, black & turkey vultures, along with beautiful riverside species of hibiscus and other native plant life. Speaking of birds, the park is part of the Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail, so if you’re into birding, here’s a spot for you year-round!
Check with the office about when these river runs are scheduled. They also rent canoes, jon-boats and paddle boats for your own exploration of the river and creeks. The lake is stocked with fish and you need a Virginia fresh-water license to fish here. The park does not sell fishing licenses, so you’ll have to get that beforehand.
There are two bath houses in the campground, each with toilet and shower facilities, and one washer/dryer – very convenient and kept in ship-shape by friendly Barbara, the Grounds Superintendent. All sites have 30 amp service, but no full hookups. One dump station conveniently located at the entrance to the campground.
Malia’s 2 cents: The quiet greenery of this park, the sound of crickets and a night of rain on the roof bringing cooler air and foggy morning made a most enjoyable home during the week I was here. Sweet and unique bird songs greeted me each morning. I highly recommend a stay here if you’re in the Chesapeake area.
I’ve also never found a city park so intent on guest service and hospitality. The Park Superintendent, Bill, has been on board for 20 years. When he took over, the campground had 103 sites and he thought that was too cramped, so he culled it down to 73. He supervises a team who obviously loves it here, as evidenced by how long they’ve worked here as well. When I asked Bill for his “wish-list” for campground improvements, he mentioned 50 amp service and water hookups at every site, but timing of that will depend on budgetary considerations.
From my first contact with Cathy and Carol at the office, it was evident this is a group who really cares. Later I met Mike, Building Maintenance Supervisor, and when I asked him about the quality of the well water, he gave me a tour of the treatment facility and put my mind to rest.
FYI – when I remarked to Mike that I was happy my cell phone and air card worked so well here, he told me that Verizon is the only cell phone that works well here due to a nearby tower. But all other providers are iffy at best, so be aware of that.
One of the park’s most popular events is the annual Halloween Ghost Train. A wagon hay ride makes stops at spooky staged areas around the park – there’s even a Pirate’s Ship on the river. There’s an admission charge for this event, but I’ve been told it’s well worth it!
I also heard that deer and yellow flies can be bad during summer months. Nothing got me during the week I was here, but it’s probably a good idea to bring your bug spray. They do spray for mosquitoes in the summer months.
Address & Phone: 1733 Indian Creek Road – Chesapeake, VA – (757) 421-7151
Directions to the park advice from a local: When choosing between either I-64 or 664 to get to the park, 664 is better – less traffic in general and better time through the tunnel. That’s a good thing to me, because I always get clenched body parts when I drive the motorhome through a tunnel.