Virginia’s brand new riverfront state park is now open for visitors to enjoy.
The 1,089-acre Widewater State Park, which sits at the mouth of Aquia Creek at the Potomac River in Stafford County, was officially opened by Governor Ralph Northam during a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Watch the video below to take a virtual tour of the park:
Dominion Energy bought the park property years ago, intending to build a power plant, and the acreage was then approved for other uses including residential development. The utility later sold the land with the help of Stafford County and the Trust for Public Land.A serene view from the park. Photo: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The new Widewater State Park is within close proximity to two car-top launches suitable for canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, according to its website, and a Potomac motorboat launch is planned for the future.
Anglers can take advantage of the Potomac’s largemouth bass bounty at Widewater. Proper licenses are required (Va. or Md. freshwater for main stem Potomac; Va. freshwater for Aquia Creek/Long Pond). The park says it will honor Potomac River Fisheries Commission licenses.
Long Pond Trail, measuring in at one mile, will take hikers along Aquia Creek. The park also has two picnic shelters with restrooms, playgrounds, and parking nearby.
The park’s website says there are plans for cabins and campgrounds, but “it will initially have tent-only primitive campsites for paddle-in camping and organized groups.”
Matthew Strickler, the state’s Secretary of Natural Resources, says parks like Widewater play a vital role in the future of area waterways. “The development of a low-impact state park on waterfront property significantly reduces the possibility of increased water quality degradation,” he explains.
Funding for the park, which totaled more than $6 million, came from Virginia Public Building Authority bonds and a federal appropriation through the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP), an initiative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
–Laura Adams Boycourt