Swamps of Virginia

The Geographic Names Information System maintained lists all the places in Virginia labelled "swamp" on the topographic maps produced by the US Geological Survey. By that agency's definition, a swamp is a:1

...poorly drained wetland, fresh or saltwater, wooded or grassy, possibly covered with open water (bog, cienega, marais, marsh, pocosin)

There are roughly 300 places in Virginia named or classified as "swamps." All but about ten are in the Coastal Plain.

In the Piedmont and higher-elevations of Virginia, water keeps flowing downhill and rarely forms large wetlands labelled "swamp" by the US Geological Survey. Biologists are more granular in identifying natural communities. Places where water accumulates in Montane Depression Swamps, Mountain/Piedmont Seepage Swamps, and Appalachian Bogs are recognized as uniquely valuable habitat.2

Bearwallow Swamp is in Shenandoah National Park
Bearwallow Swamp is in Shenandoah National Park
Source: US Geological Survey, Bentonville VA 1:24,000 topographic quadrangle (2019)

Waterfalls are common west of the Fall Line, and swamps are common east of the Fall Line. Flat topography and the presence of water are both essential to the formation of swamps, while waterfalls require topographic relief in addition to water.

Dragon Run: Virginia's Most Pristine Water Body

Draining the Swamps of Virginia

Lake Drummond and Great Dismal Swamp

Wetlands in Virginia

features in Virginia named swamp are in the Coastal Plain, except about a dozen (highlighted in yellow)
features in Virginia named "swamp" are in the Coastal Plain, except about a dozen (highlighted in yellow)
Source: US Geological Survey, Geographic Names Information System Query - Results for "Swamps" in "Virginia"



1. "Domestic Names," Geographic Names Information System, US Geological Survey, https://www.usgs.gov/us-board-on-geographic-names/domestic-names (last checked December 22, 2021)
2. "The Natural Communities of Virginia - Classification of Ecological Groups and Community Types, Third Approximation (Version 3.3)," Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, March 2021, https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/natural-communities/ (last checked December 22, 2021)

Rivers and Watersheds
Virginia Places