12 Things You May Not Know About Newport News Park
In 1966, the City of Newport News created a watershed around Lee Hall Reservoir to protect the quality of its water. That watershed was developed into Newport News Park. Since then, it’s been a gem in our city, providing trails, shade, a huge variety of wildlife, and much more. So much more, that you probably don’t even know about all this amazing park has to offer. We’ve outlined the Top 12 things you need to know about Newport News Park that will get you planning your next trip there as soon as possible!
1. It’s HUGE
One of the largest municipal parks in the United States, Newport News Park is nine times larger than New York City’s Central Park! At 7,711 acres, Newport News Park is an oasis in the middle of a large metropolitan city. The park is so large that it has its very own campground!
2. It’s a great place to camp
Campers and outdoor enthusiasts find Newport News Park’s campground the perfect retreat. Its 188 campsites are spaciously arranged throughout the park’s natural woodlands. Camp here and you’ll be surrounded by many of the comforts of home, including electricity, heated showers, a laundry room, a small store for food and supplies, and 24-hour security. And, needless to say, pets are welcome, too!
3. It has an aero-model flying field
Did you know that Newport News Park has an aero-model flying field? What’s that, you may ask? It’s a place for model aviation enthusiasts to fly their radio-controlled aircraft. The busiest flying times are usually Saturday and Sunday afternoons, weather permitting. The field has a paved 400-foot runway and a spacious 30-acre flyover area, along with bleachers for visitors and spectators.
4. It has miles of trails
The park also offers more than 30 miles of trails through forest, field, and marshland – with many native species to observe in their natural habitat. As you can imagine, the park is home to an incredible variety of native wildlife – deer, fox, raccoon and beaver, to name a few – all found in a thriving setting filled with lush woodlands, flowering meadows, and shimmering lakes.
5. It has a center to rehabilitate wildlife
The park even has a state- and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitation program, located at the Discovery Center. The staff there provides care to hundreds of injured or orphaned animals annually, enabling the animals to return to their natural environments, healthy and self-sufficient. We like to think of the Discovery Center as a “temporary haven” for wildlife when they’re most in need. The center also has numerous educational exhibits on display, which are open to the public.
6. You can rent a bike for $3
If you enjoy cycling, bring your own bike or rent one from the campsite office to hit the park’s popular 5.3-mile hard-packed, flat-surface multi-use trail. Newport News Park shares a long stretch of border with the Colonial National Historical Park and several of the park's biking and hiking trails cross over into this historical area.
7. It has ties to the Civil War
Speaking of history, did you know that Newport News Park is the site of some of the best preserved Civil War fortifications, earthworks and redoubts in Virginia? During the American Civil War, the park was the site of Battle of Dam No. 1. In the days prior to the battle, Confederate forces constructed rifle pits and other earthworks from which they held off the Union Army. Because of this, the park is a designated stop on the official Virginia Civil War Trails network.
8. It has numerous playgrounds and horseshoe pits
Families with small children will be happy to know that Newport News Park has FOUR playgrounds, including one specifically made for younger children (found in Picnic Area 2). With four certified courts for horseshoes, there’s no better place than Newport News Park to play horseshoes, too, especially if you want to keep your own lawn back home pristine! Just remember to bring your own horseshoes, as the park does not provide them.
9. It boasts archery, golf, and a Japanese Peace Garden!
Additionally, it has an archery range, two 18-hole golf courses, and an 18-hole championship disc golf course in the arboretum area. Floral gardens at the park include a Japanese Peace Garden with an authentic tea house!
10. It’s a great place to go fishing
For water enthusiasts, fishing is permitted in two large freshwater lakes, along with canoe, paddleboat, and Jon boat rentals. And don’t worry about bringing your own paddles, oars, or personal flotation devices – they’re all included in the rental.
11. There’s a team-building course
Organized groups looking for a physical and a mental challenge are invited to make a reservation to take the park’s “Ropes & Initiatives Course.” It features a progression of more difficult tasks, similar to an obstacle course. It can be a powerful tool for enhancing group dynamics.
12. There are lots of FREE programs there
OK, now that we know what Newport News Park has to offer, let’s talk about the many FREE programs scheduled there on a regular basis! Who knew the park offered the following activities?
1. Archery Safety Lessons – A park ranger presents this one-hour presentation to teach general archery safety tips and discuss the rules and regulations specific to Newport News Park. You’ll also learn more about the art of archery. Call 757-888-3333 for dates and to register.
2. Bird Walks – Since 1965, the Hampton Roads Bird Club has monitored the park’s bird population on a regular basis. Join club members in the parking lot of Picnic Area 1 at 7 a.m. every first and third Sunday of the month for some early morning birding. Take a stroll through the park and see what interesting species of birds live here. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
3. Friday Night Adventures – Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can bring your family to the Discovery Center at Newport News Park every Friday evening to learn about some of the amazing living creatures that make their homes in and around the park. Meet a park naturalist to discover facts about some of the park’s natural and historical features through nature walks, themed presentations, and hands-on activities. Topics range from beavers, snakes, and owls to bats, opossums, deer, raccoons, and other creatures inhabiting the park.
4. Hayrides – Hop on a Saturday evening hayride to explore the park’s beautiful and diverse forest habitats. These family friendly adventures are led by park staff. Hayrides, which depart from the campsite office, are offered on select Saturday evenings between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Rides are free, but tickets are required and distributed at the Campsite Office on a first-come, first-served basis starting 30 minutes before each departure time.
5. Story and a Walk – Enjoy a fun nature story at the Discovery Center in Newport News Park and then take a short walk to discover what you can find around the park. Targeted toward preschool children and their caregivers, this program is held at 10 a.m. every second Wednesday of the month.
6. Walking Club – This free walking program was created for adults over age 55 who want to get fit or stay fit. Walk through some of the parks most beautiful trails at 10 a.m. every Friday. Call 757-812-7905 to register.
Obviously, the only challenge you’ll have in visiting Newport News Park is selecting among all the fun programs and numerous things to do there! If you opt for one of the programmed activities, call first because a few of these activities are only offered during the summer months. For questions or additional information, call Newport News Park at 757-886-7912.