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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. Belle Isle also offers overnight lodging at Bel Air and the Bel Air Guest House. Guests also enjoy the park's universal access playground, boardwalk and fishing pier, and educational programs. The Bel Air historic area is ideal for weddings.
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.
Dawn to Dusk
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
Daily Parking Fee:
No designated swimming area
Bicycle, boat and canoe rentals; picnic shelters, motor boat and car-top launches.
Three picnic shelters are accessible; shelter restrooms are accessible.
1,000-foot boardwalk with observation deck is accessible, as is the fishing pier.
Because of the historic nature of the mansion, we are in the process of designing an appropriate access that will maintain the character of the facility.
The park office and camp store are accessible.
Although motorized vehicles are not permitted on park trails, electric powered wheelchairs and electric scooters that meet the federal definition for wheelchairs are allowed to enable people with disabilities to use the trails.
Captain John Smith and his crew landed or passed by here in August 1608 during their second exploratory voyage around the Chesapeake Bay.
During the first voyage earlier that summer, the men got stuck on a shoal at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, near present-day Deltaville, Virginia.
While they waited for the tide to shift and float the boat free, they decided to fish in the surrounding waters using their swords as spears.
Smith speared a cownose ray, which sank its tail into his wrist as he tried to remove it from his sword. His arm and chest swelled so severely that he began to order preparations for his burial, including the digging of a grave.
However, the ship’s physician applied oil, and by evening Smith had recovered enough to enjoy the stingray for dinner.
He named the land near the mouth of the river “Stingray Ile,” known today as Stingray Point.