Burke Lake camping is a convenient way to camp close to home without having to go to far. While it’s not the top camping spot nearby, it’s a good option if you don’t want to travel or if you don’t want to be fully immersed in the woods away from everyone and everything.
In this Burke Lake Camping guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know before you go.
Table of Contents
6 Pros of Camping at Burke Lake
5 Cons of Camping at Burke Lake
The Best Time to Go
Other Nearby Campsites
What Else is Nearby to Do
Pros & Cons of Camping at Burke Lake
The activities and the closeness of the park definitely made our trip enjoyable. We all had a fun time. With that being said, every place has it’s pros and cons and we’ll share those here so you know what to expect.
Let’s start with the pros…
Pro 1: Lots of shade
Most of the camping sites are under the canopy of trees which keeps things cooler on hot days.
Pro 2: Close to the DC metro area
Being so close to home and at the same time feeling like we were getting away from it all was great.
Since it is not a long drive, it made getting back and forth a breeze.
Imagine the relief of being able to go back home quickly if you forget an essential item (like a tent) as happened to one family in our group.
Also, because Burke Lake is so close, another family who just had a few hours to spend, but not enough time to camp, came to visit for part of a day.
Pro 3: Lots of stores and restaurants nearby
A number of restaurants deliver to Burke Lake Park, making dinner prep a snap for those who prefer not to cook or bring their own meals.
There are also several grocery stores and a Walmart within a 10-minute drive.
Pro 4: Variety of family-friendly activities
There are so many other activities you can do while camping at Burke Lake which keeps the kids entertained and adds some variety to camping. Or if you prefer to spend your time in nature, you can just choose an activity to end your day. These really add to the experience.
See the Burke Lake activities here.
Pro 5: Helpful staff
The staff was polite and provided assistance when needed.
Pro 6: No minimum night stay
Many other parks require a two-night stay during the summer weekends but Burke Lake does not. This is great for those that only want to go for one night and not pay for an extra night stay.
Con 1: Lack of privacy
Some of the tents were very close to neighboring tents. The sites are not private, and the boundaries between sites was not always easy to figure out. Many of the sites are on an incline making it hard to find a flat spot to set up a level tent. I was told that there are a few flat sites designated for RV’s but they may not be available.
Con 2: No security gate
Anyone can easily drive into the campground whether they are camping there or not.
Con 3: Basic on-site camp store
The “store” which is really the registration office only carries wood, charcoal, lighter fluid, ice, and soda (from a vending machine). It would be helpful if the store had a few additional basic supplies, even though there were stores close-by.
Con 4: No swimming
You actually are not allowed to swim in the lake as it is for fishing only. So if you plan on camping when it’s quite hot and want a way to cool off, you may need to reconsider.
Con 5: Noise
While the campgrounds seemed to be well patrolled during the day, the quiet hours aren’t always observed by others especially if you go on a holiday or over a long weekend where it tends to be more crowded.
The Best Time to Go
The Burke Lake campgrounds are typically open from mid-April through October. Going during the week is always your best bet. Since that’s not always possible, try going on weekends when there is not a holiday or long weekend as that tends to draw more people.
Likewise the summer months are quite popular as compared to early or later in the season.
Non-family camp sites which allow up to 6 people and no more than 2 tents are $30 per night Monday through Thursday and $35 per night on weekends and holidays.
It’s important to note, if you would like to light a campfire, you are not permitted to bring in your own firewood in order to protect the natural resources from spread of forest pests and diseases. Firewood can be purchased onsite.
Make sure to look at the other park activities when considering costs so you can decide which you want to plan for.
To make a reservation, you can first check availability on the Fairfax County Park Authority website here.
You will need to log-in to your Parktakes account (or create one) and you will be able to enter your information and make payment there.
While there are no electric or water hook-ups, each site has a grill, picnic table and fire ring. Each site also provides a space for at least one car.
You’ll also find:
- Potable water spigots
- Bathhouse with sinks
- Flushing toilets
- Dump station
There is so much fun to be had that really adds to the camping experience at Burke Lake. While there you can try:
- Regular golf
- Riding the carousel
- Mini-train rides
- Frisbee golf
- Enjoy (fast food) pizza and ice cream at the ice cream parlor
- Bike the shady, unpaved 4.7 mile bike and walking path that goes around the lake
- Attend a family-friendly class, camp or special events (see the calendar of events here)
And of course there are other fun activities to do like play soccer, flying a kite, frisbee and so on.
During weekends and holidays, the train, carousel, mini-golf and ice cream parlor open at 11am.
Burke Lake Park is off of Route 123 and Burke Lake Road in Burke Virginia.
It’s less than 20-minutes from nearby Fairfax and only 45-minutes from Washington, DC.
Other Nearby Campsites
If you are still considering your options and would like to stay nearby, here are some other options:
Little Bennett Regional Park in Montgomery County has many of the benefits of Burke Lake and more.
Lake Fairfax Campgrounds, also a part of the Fairfax Park Authority and located in Reston, is convenient to the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole if you want a campground that is both conveniently located and has a swimming option during the summer.
And within about 90 minutes of downtown DC, you will find: Cunningham Falls, Greenbrier State Park and Lake Anna State Park.
What’s Nearby to Do
If you’re not ready to head home and want to keep the fun going, here are some more fun things to do in the area:
- Enjoy the ziplines at Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park (7 minutes)
- Pick-up some fresh produce at Burke Farmers Market (9 minutes)
- See trains and explore the interactive displays with kids at the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum (6 minutes)
- Paint some pottery at Paint Your Own Pottery (11 minutes)
- Cool off with some delicious roll ice cream or even some milk tea based drinks at Smash’D Creamery