Claytor Lake State Park experiences small Memorial Day Weekend crowd due to social distancing

Beach, cabins, and picnic shelters remained closed because of COVID-19 concerns

CLAYTOR LAKE, Va. – Claytor Lake State Park usually experiences a Memorial Day Weekend rush of people longing for their first taste of summer. That rush did not happen this year, as social distancing has taken a toll on Virginia’s tourism industry.

The park’s beach, cabins, and picnic shelters remained closed through the weekend. Visitors could still use the marina, outdoor picnic tables and trails.

Some people decided to make the trek to Claytor Lake, despite social distancing. Mori Williams and his family drove from Princeton, West Virginia to continue their yearly tradition.

“We do typically come down to the lake on Memorial Day Weekend," Williams said. "Typically, we’re out on a boat.”

Vicky Szuflita and Kenia Lobo visited the lake for the first time on Sunday. They expected the typical Memorial Day Weekend crowd, but were proven wrong when they arrived.

“We were hoping to try and beat the crowd, but no one’s here," Szuflita said. “We’re just sitting in the grass and hanging out.”

"We’re getting a nice view, so that’s all that matters,” Lobo added.

The lake itself also looked different because of natural conditions. Cicadas have started to emerge at the park, and torrential rain from the week filled Claytor Lake with murky water and driftwood.

“I’ve never seen the lake have this much debris in it," Williams said. "Not since I’ve been coming down.”

Williams, Szuflita and Lobo all said they enjoyed their respective trips to Claytor Lake, despite the different conditions.

“It’s super, super beautiful," Szuflita said. "It’s really nice to just get outdoors and social distance without feeling overwhelmed.”

“We’ve pretty much forgotten what the sun looked it like, it seems there has been nothing but rain," Williams said. "I think sunshine will heal a lot of people’s spirits.”