The God's Wilderness Campground wasn't much to brag about, but the couple who run this Christian-themed camp are super-religious, good-hearted people who live full-time on Paradise Island.
Priscella Cline Smith and her husband host a lot of church groups, revivals and Southern Gospel sings, but they also welcome tent, RV and ATV campers looking for cheap accommodations near the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system
The campground offers tent camping, hook-ups for RV's, and lodging in facilities with names such as "The Upper Room Inn," "The New Testament Bunkhouse," and "The Vineyard Bungalow." I went for the primitive option at $7.00/night and camped next to the Guyandotte River which is known for its good fishing.
They have some interesting oddities here such as the Teepee Chapel, the "Jesus Praying in the Rock" stone, and the "Passion Trail" portraying Christ's birth, ministry and resurrection.
To find Paradise Island, WV, set your GPS for 777 Paradise Island Verner, WV 25650
If you camp here, I recommend a side-trip to Matewan, WV, a historic town know for the "Matewan Massacre" where abused miners revolted against coal barons and their security thugs. You can actually see bullet-holes and slugs in the walls around town where Sheriff Sid Hatfield and armed miners shot and killed seven coalmine detectives who came to town with eviction notices for miners trying to organize a union.
We stayed here in June 2019 for three days in our pop up at a site with electricity. No water is available. The campground is heavily wooded with space between sites. There are trails nearby, however several trails had bridges that were rotted away and not passable. There was a volunteer crew working on the main extensive trail to Stone Mountain while we were there which was wonderful! The bathroom had flush toilet and showers but did not seem as if it had been cleaned in several days. Campground host was very nice and drove around occasionally to check on us. We stayed Thursday through Sunday and I will say the first two nights were bliss - quiet and peaceful. A wonderful experience! We saw a deer walk right up to our campsite the first morning. However, Saturday night brought loud, disrespectful campers. We actually saw one camper trying to pull out one of the fixed grills in another site because their site did not have a grill. Rather than move sites, they practically destroyed the grill at another site. The campers next to us were carrying on a conversation and cussing every other word as loud as possible way after 10 pm. Sunday morning the bathroom was trashed … my husband said there was a dirty diaper laying in the bathroom floor next to the trash can. Why? People — don’t ruin things for the rest of us. Stay home if this is how you want to camp. This place would be awesome if people treated it as such! I camp for quiet and peace in nature. Unfortunately others camp to party and trash their surroundings.
We discovered this park summer of 2018 and went back 4 times. This park is geographically in the middle of no where and squeezed in between two states (hence interstate park). Even though it’s in God’s country it’s worth the drive. It’s a quaint park with amazing and friendly staff who pride their jobs and park. It had full hookups for RVs and decent campsite for tents. Bathhouses are clean, the campground is quite and restaurant is clean. There is a small water park for families, nice trails, play grounds, shelters, basketball court, small lake and access to some of the best views in Appalachia. This truly is a hidden gem if you can get past the road to get there. But on a side note for that- they are building a new road to access the park and hopefully it’ll be done soon.
The campground and general area is beautiful with a welcoming vibe. It can get a little crowded in the campground at certain times due to holidays but it's not hard to lose the crowd. Everyone is always extremely kind and treat you like family. The list of activities is almost endless……. boating, fishing and anything else you can do on the lake, trails in every direction, secluded spots on and off the lake for picnics, camping or whatever, stargazing, pool, wildlife everywhere, games and general activities at the campground, community center, dam, parks, and it's really close to town in case you want to check it out. Make sure you check out the Jenny Wiley theater if you can, they are beyond talented.
I camped here back in June 2018. It was one of three sites I camped at that week on my trek to ten VA state parks in the south eastern of the state. This was my favorite of them all. It offered primitive, trailer and tent camping. Since I was by myself I choice the tent. Very clean, helpful and friendly folks. the site was easy to pull through with my truck. I been to some that were not so easy.
Went camping here in October. Campground was nice. Bathrooms were not very well kept. It has a beach with swimming and it was nice. We kayaked on the lake and while it was enjoyable there was a lot of trash in the lake. The people working while we were there were great. Not a lot going on here. We had to drive to get to a place to hike. That was fun. We probably will not return to this camp ground in the future.
One of my favorite places to visit, camp, and hike!! Its gorgeous Appalachia with hikes ranging from casual strolls to very difficult. This park offers all of the amenities, full hookup if you want it or primitive tent sites, a nice lodge and restaurant, horseback riding, and zip lines!!! One of the camp hosts, Teddy, was super friendly and helpful with anything we needed. I LOVE The Breaks Park!!!
I lived in the Dewey Lake-JWSP area with family members, until 2002. Currently, I live about 10-15 minutes away from JWSP and visit the park at least once a month, depending on the weather. If you want to mix up your trip besides going camping or doing any recreational activities: Jenny Wiley Theater, mid June-early August, Outdoor Theater, (kinda like Summer Stock); Theme or special dinners at the Lodge, (mostly on weekends), year round; the community/ state park swimming pool is currently being "refurbished" and will be reopening, (hopefully) in Summer 2019. And, speaking of recreation, you can "hit the links" at the Stone Crest Golf Course, nearby.
But, as for other recreational activities: there's bike riding, hiking, boating: recreational, travel, kayaking and fishing types. If you want to do any horseback riding, you have to bring your own horse and gear, but contact the JWSP office first on where you can ride your horse. Better yet, you can take about a 30 minute drive from the Lodge to the German Bridge Campground area up Cow Creek, which is also in the Dewey Lake area, Contact the Dewey Lake US Army Corps of Engineers for more details, (in other words, Google it). Plus, there are picnic shelters in different areas of JWSP, some of them right next to Dewey Lake.
Now, as for camping, you have 3 type choices… #1. reserving a cabin near the Lodge, (and Dewey's, the local "watering hole"), kinda like "glamping", but it's rougher. (BTW, this area and the Lodge are the best places for getting a cell phone signal). #2. RV (Recreational Vehicle) Camping. There is a RV camping site not far from where I used to live, but from my personal experience, call the JWSP office at least 2 weeks in advance before the date you plan to use the site to see if there is going to be anything available on the dates you want, before making your reservation. First come, first served! #3. A. There are tent campsites next to Dewey Lake in various areas around the lake accessible by boat only, which are overseen by the Corps of Engineers, contact them or the JWSP office. Best place in my opinion: Campsite near the Dewey Dam/ Spillway Area. B. Other Outdoor Camping: Contact the Corps of Engineers or the Park Ranger's at JWSP. If you want to see some wildlife also, contact the local KY State Fish & Wildlife office that handles JWSP and Dewey Lake.
But there's some stuff I've learned over the years living and camping in this area, that I think you must know, some of this you might have run into on other camping trips at other parks…
- DO NOT DRINK THE WATER FROM THIS LAKE… AND DON'T SWIM IN IT EITHER!
- FISH AT YOUR OWN RISK,,, CATCH & RELEASE! (Personally, I'd go to a pay lake).
- FCC LICENCE 2-WAY EMERGENCY RADIO (I prefer the Motorola ones, (white & red, also has a NOAA Weather Radio and FM Radio), you can get a brand new one for between $40-$60. The FCC Licence is currently $70, the feds do a background check on you, if you get the licence, it lasts 10 years).
- BEAR MACE - A BIG CAN OF IT! Not only do you have the Black Bears to deal with, you have the Coyotes too!
- IF YOU ARE AT A LAKESIDE CAMPING SITE, HAVE A LIFE JACKET ON AT ALL TIMES! You might fall into the water by accident or you may have to jump into the lake at night in case of emergency!
And last, but not least…
6. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE A MOTORBOAT! NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ON THE BOAT! EVERY PERSON ON BOARD MUST BE WEARING A LIFE JACKET! The Fish & Wildlife officers do surprise checks on the recreational boats to see if the rules are being followed… if they aren't following the rules… you may have to pay a fine and/or do some time!
We have been to this campground numerous times. The people and the place bring us back. There are mostly RV's here but we tent camp and there are plenty of spots available. There are about 8-10 sites that are right behind the pool and more sites down a short hill all along the river. This campground accommodates tents, pop ups and RV's comfortably. There is a small pool, but very clean and nice. The showers / restrooms are close by and nice. There is a store to purchase extras and firewood. Great family place to camp. The 5 mph speed limit is strictly enforced! The river is perfect! It's not too deep so the kids can play in it. Fairly easily accessed from many areas at the campground. Tent sites behind the pool have water and electric. If you go on any holiday, there are usually holiday related activities for the whole family. October was great for costumes, trick or treating, fall activities and parties! Many sites were decorated. Summer at this campground had plenty of water activities fun for all ages.
This park has so many things to do and is fun for all ages. They have campgrounds,cabins and Yurts. There are nice hiking trails,chairlift to view the tunnel,picnic areas,swimming pool and so much more. People are friendly and helpful too. They have concerts and lots of outdoor activities during different times of the year. Great place for family fun!
Overall; nice place, bathrooms get gross quickly when campground is at full capacity. Not handicap friendly. Good cell service, 4G. Small beach area, clear water for swimming, but have quite a few steps to walk down to the lake. Playground equipment was taken down, only had a couple of swings. All sites have electric and water, picnic table, two poles to hang garbage or lantern, also fire rings with grates for cooking on Pets allowed on leash. Firewood and ice available.
Attendant on site, not a ranger, maybe a "workamper?" Bathrooms cleaned only once in the midmorning. The commodes have a button to flush which is difficult to push. I think young children couldn't push it, so the toilets got nasty and full. Toilet paper ran out by early evening. There was no commode in the handicap stall in the women's room. Hot showers with regular handle for continual flow (as opposed to some places that only run a couple of minutes before you have to push the button again.
Most sites are shaded and grassy areas. Sites 7, 8, 26, 28, 31 are washed out, not good for putting up a tent. Lake surrounds campground but not visible through the trees. A few very steep trails from some sites down to the lake.
Beach is about 100 yds long. Water was clean and clear. It might be a slight challenge walking back up the steps to the parking lot if you're not in good shape. If you plan on hanging out at the beach area for awhile, I suggest bringing a beach tent, it gets hot. There is a drive way down to the beach for handicap access, but the gate was locked. There is a marina on the other side of the road. I believe you can rent a pontoon there.
While we were there, somebody with a super loud speed boat was racing around, so be aware that if you're wanting peace and quiet, there is boating noise. There was also a group of campers that had speakers set up and played their music Sat night that was annoying. Not super loud, but we just didn't care for their style of music. We tolerated it, but don't know why they weren't asked to turn it down. To me, music shouldn't be heard much past your own site.
It's about 5+/- miles in either direction for a store. There is an ice cream place about 2 miles away that also sells basic prep fried food and breakfast.
Our electric didn't work (site 33) but we were with another couple and plugged into theirs next to us. We usually primitive camp, but because of the Aug heat, it's nice to have a fan at night.
We might camp there again. The main thing is that the bath house needs to be updated and attended to more than once a day. It's better than nothing, but I'd rather go in an outhouse than see an overflowing toilet.
This place is absolutely breathtaking. A must go. Cabins, yurts, RV camping, primitive camping. Excellently maintained. The are so many activities for everyone of all ages. Pool, picnicking, canoeing, hiking, fishing. There's a trail to the tunnel or you can take a chairlift. There's a museum, several gift shops, camp store, visitor centers. The staff is helpful and friendly. Many educational activities. The cabins are very clean and relatively new. But, I haven't run into 1 bad Virginia state park.
We needed a spot to stay at the last minute and called the owner. We had two Jeeps with roof top tents, and while this is an RV Park, he has a few seasonal sites near the creek open. If the water is high, the sites aren’t available. What a beautiful place! We wished we could stay longer! Great owners—so hospitable! Free firewood and even had metal rings for a fire. Across the bridge is a paved walking trail that follows the creek. Also the town is the home of writer Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap!
Spent the night in a tent at Lovers Leap campground. Campground and park are clean, well maintained and up to date. Canoed Clinch River, caved in the park, and took a short guided hike through Stock Creek to backside of tunnel. Highly recommend!