About the Basin: Widewater State Park

Widewater State Park

Stafford, VA

Photo credit: Widewater State Park shipwreck, Virginia State Parks (Flickr)

Widewater State Park is close enough for a daytrip from Metro DC but far enough away that the big city light pollution is not an issue for the night astronomy clubs that occasionally hold public events at the park. Stretching between the shore of the Potomac River and the shore of the Aquia Creek, the park provides stunning water views, fishing, and recreational access to water.

The park is split between two parcels of land, the Aquia side and the Potomac side. Although these two areas appear small, the park is deceptively big as much of the park land is undeveloped and unavailable to the public, yet anyways. The visitors center and gift shop are on the Aquia side. Park rangers provide children’s fishing clinics, guided kayaking tours, and many more fun and interactive activities. Find more information on at the park’s website or on the Friends of Widewater State Park Facebook page.

For those visiting from the water (from Mallows Bay, for example, which is just up the river), there are four paddle-in primitive campsites available.

Fishing is a popular activity along the shores of the park. The Potomac is tidal in this area but is considered freshwater for fishing licensing purposes.

There are two car-top launches, one in each river, for canoes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards. If you launch your craft on the Potomac side then head upriver a couple miles, you’ll find a sunken ship. The scuttled ship provides excellent fishing and birding opportunities.

Don’t expect a dip in the river. There are no designated swimming areas due to hazardous swimming conditions in the river.

This quiet, unassuming state park is only a few years old and still has room to grow. This is one to watch, as they say. Future plans for the park include extended trails, a motorboat launch, and a campground.