Ok boys and girls, it is that time of year. Climb up in the attic above the garage, dig out the tent and hope there are no new holes in it. Find that box you use for your camp cooking utensils and make sure the skillet isn’t rusted up too bad. If you are going to be three or four days on your camping trip, got to Wally World or Krogers and get at least enough groceries for two weeks (maybe three).
Camping out in the summer is an American institution and if you have been away from it for a while you need to get back in the saddle. Among the many outdoor attractions that southern West Virginia is blessed with is a wealth of wonderful camping spots. Maybe you are looking something a little more out of the way, or off the beaten track? Step right up and try these on for size. Herewith is a list of your passports to blazing campfires, early morning cowboy coffee, brilliant stars, and s’mores dropped in the fire.
Moncove Lake State Park (304-772-3450) I wanted to get this one in before I forgot it. That is one of things about Moncove Lake, it seems to be one of those places that you forget it is there. Moncove Lake is located in Monroe County near the huge metropolis (OK, not really) of Gap Mills, West Virginia. Moncove Lake State Park covers 250 acres; the lake itself is 144 acres, and get this, the state park is adjoined by a Wildlife Management Area that boasts a whopping 500 acers!
Here is the thing about Moncove Lake State Park; Park Superintendent Holly Norris said it best. “Everything that the park offers is right here,” she told me. “When you get to Moncove Lake everything is a few steps away. You can just turn the kids loose and enjoy yourself and relax.”
Moncove Lake offers 25 camping sites with electric hook ups (the electric sites have WiFi access!) and 23 sites that are non-electric. The park has two bathhouses with flush toilets and hot showers. The public swimming pool is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Row boats and paddle boats, and now kayaks are available for rent. The lake has a five horsepower minimum for motor boats. For the angler Moncove Lake contains bass, catfish, walleyes, bluegills, and trout.
Moncove Lake State Park is beautiful, it’s secluded and it’s quiet and peaceful. What else would you expect from a park in a county that doesn’t even have a stop light?
Greenbrier State Forest (304- 536-1944) This Park is really just another gem of the West Virginia State Park system. You may know that it is over there when you speed down I 64 at the White Sulphur Springs exit, but you probably don’t think about it. Greenbrier State Forest is 5,100 acres which includes Kates Mountain at 3,280 feet. Cabin and campsite rentals at Greenbrier start the third Friday in April and close October 31. The campground has 16 sites with electric hookups, picnic table and stone fireplace and grill, a bathhouse offers restroom facilities and hot showers. This park features a heated swimming pool in the summer, picnic areas, playground, archery and muzzleloader rifle range, a disc golf course, and volleyball courts and horseshoes. Greenbrier River fishing is nearby as well as trout streams and Tuckahoe Lake. Greenbrier is really another “get away from it all” place. I think that you will rarely see a crowd there, and with over 5,000 acers of room to roam well, if you want solitude, this may be the place.
Since I went on too long about Moncove Lake and ran out of space I will leave you with some other ideas for great camping getaways in the southern part of the Mountain State.
Bluestone Wildlife Management Area Although Bluestone is a WMA; it has over 300 campsites, all of which are on New River above Bluestone Lake. Good fishing, beautiful scenery, solitude, what’s not to like? 304-466-3398
Camp Creek State Park Another little known treasure of the park system, with easy access just off I 77 between Ghent and Princeton. Lots of FCHS (fishing, camping, hiking, solitude). O, I almost 304-425-9481
Twin Falls State Park Near Pineville, this is probably an underutilized park which is a shame, some of the best trails for hiking and biking in the state, you can camp out, stay in a cabin for the lodge. Twin Falls has a golf course and great birding and watchable wildlife, (they have some big deer). 304-294-4000
All of these parks and many more can be seen on the excellent West Virginia State Park web site, wvstateparks.com. We have a lot to be proud of in our state park system, West Virginia, enjoy.