Hike, ride your bike or your horse, swim, fish, camp, and hunt for fairy stones at Fairy Stone State Park!
Have you ever heard of Fairy Stone State Park, VA? It’s only about half an hour from my home in Floyd, and I grew up hearing about it, but it took me until I was 50 to finally visit. I shouldn’t have waited so long!
What and Where is Fairy Stone State Park?
Fairy Stone State Park, in Virginia, is part of the Virginia State Park System. It’s near Stuart, VA, probably less than 25 miles from the nearest NC State Parks, which is probably why some people mistakenly think it’s in North Carolina. The name “Fairy Stone” is actually two words; but like a lot of locals, I grew up thinking it was “Fairystone,” one word. And its address is 967 Fairystone Lake Drive, Stuart, VA 24171-9588 (with “Fairystone” as one word). So if I accidentally refer to “Fairystone Park,” please excuse me!
It has a lake with a beach for swimming and fishing and boat rentals, a playground and pavilions, hiking and multi-use trails, camping, and of course, hunting for fairy stones. It costs $7 to go in and park (parking is included if you are camping).
What is a Fairy Stone?
In their prettiest form, fairy stones are cross-shaped stones like the ones in the gift shop at Fairy Stone. Those come in three forms: Roman crosses (what people think of as a regular cross), Maltese crosses (the rarest, shaped like a + sign), and St. Andrew’s crosses (shaped more like an X). Scroll down toward the bottom of the “All About Fairy Stones” page to see what those look like. Simpler, less perfect crystalline shapes are more common.
What is the Legend of the Fairy Stones?
Legend has it that upon hearing of the crucifixion of Jesus, the local fairies wept tears that crystallized into cross-shaped stones.
What Kind of Rock is the Fairy Stone?
Fairy stones are a metamorphic rock called staurolite.
Can You Still Find Fairy Stones at Fairy Stone State Park?
Absolutely! When Warren and I went in mid-October, we easily found a handful of them in under an hour. Of course, they weren’t the extra pretty ones like they have in the gift shop, but they were easy enough to find. You just have to know where to look.
Where Can You Find Fairy Stones?
They’re on Fairystone State Park property, but not near the main entrance. Instead, park at Fairy Stone Pitstop on Route 57, and take the path to the left of the building. You can’t dig for the fairy stones, but you don’t need to. We found plenty of them loose on the surface of the ground. They’re not too hard to spot once you know what you’re looking for.
You can go anytime, but the park rangers also lead fairy stone hunts. This starts with a presentation at the Visitor Center, which was very helpful in terms of showing us what to look for. Then everyone caravans over to the Fairy Stone Pitstop, where you’ll find the actual stones.
Hiking and Multi-Use Trails
There are several hiking and multi-use (hiking plus biking and/or equestrian) trails. I spent a day hiking there this spring and really enjoyed it. My favorite part was Little Mountain Falls. Not surprisingly, it’s on the Little Mountain Falls Trail (marked by orange blazes). Park in the lot near the group campsite and you should find it easily. Here’s a PDF map of the trails.
Is Fairy Stone Beach open?
Yes, it’s always open. During the summer, there’s a lifeguard, and they charge a small fee for swimming in Fairystone Lake. “Between the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, guarded beach swimming is available for a fee. A bathhouse is available. Weather and other issues may at times force suspension of guarded swimming. When guarded swimming is unavailable, guests may swim at the beach’s designated area but do so at their own risk.”
It’s also a great place for fishing and boating. You’ll need a Virginia fishing license, which they sell in the gift shop. “Rowboats, paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and canoes may be rented during the summer season.” Boats with gas motors are prohibited (though you can use them on nearby Philpott Reservoir), but electric motors are allowed.
Fairy Stone State Park Camping
You can camp at Fairy Stone in tents or trailers or RVs. You can camp with horses. Or you can stay in cabins or yurts.
The main campground is set up for tents, trailers, and RVs. For some reason it’s oddly hard to find a Fairy Stone State Park campground map. The main Fairy Stone State Park Map just shows a tent icon for the main campground. But here are a list of the specific sites and photos of the sites.
The campground is set up as a loop with sites on both the inner and outer sides, and the bathhouse toward the center. I’m not sure what the color designations of the sites refer to. The sites are arranged in numeric order, with the colors mingled, and the numbers not repeated. The first sites are Red 01, Green 02, Green 03, Yellow 04.
All the sites are at least partly shaded. Each site has a picnic table and a campfire ring. Some are pull-through sites. All except the eight “Green” sites have tent pads. They’re all different shapes and sizes, so check that PDF of site specs if you’re looking for a specific amount of space. It also lists the specific sites with water and electric hookups. There is a dump station but no sewer hookups.
We spent a weekend camping here, and had a very pleasant time. (Warren, who doesn’t like to camp, described it as “surprisingly pleasant.”)
There’s also a Group Campground where you can rent 3-6 tent camping sites. And there’s an Equestrian Camp with 10 sites (no tents allowed) and stalls. Horses are allowed on the park’s multi-use trails.
Fairy Stone State Park Cabins
The cabins at Fairy Stone State Park consist of 25 cabins of various types. Fairystone Park cabins all have electricity, plumbing, kitchens, bathrooms, and heat and AC. There’s also a “Lodge,” which is just a bunkhouse with heat and AC but no kitchen or bathrooms (you use the Group Campsite bathhouse, which is a bit of a walk).
Fairy Stone State Park Yurts
The Yurts are sort of a cross between a cabin and a big tent. Each yurt has beds and a dining table, but no kitchen or plumbing (guests use the nearby Group Campground bathhouse).
Fairy Stone State Park Reservations
Here is the Virginia State Parks reservations page. Click the link that says “Reserve Online.” It will take you to a page where you put in the name of the park and search.
What Else Is There to Do in the Area?
Fairystone Park is about half an hour from Floyd, which Southern Living magazine named as one of the South’s best small towns. It’s close to the Blue Ridge Parkway. And it’s about an hour from Roanoke, where there is plenty to do.
Questions? Comments? Have a link to a good map of the campground? Know the solution to the mystery of the color designations of the camp sites? Leave a comment below!