THE BEST CAMPING NEAR
Bancroft, WEST VIRGINIA
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First stay

Campground was nice. Staff was nice. Spots were roomy. They had recently mowed but left all the clippings so it that was quite messy especially being in a tent. Lake was nice to kayak without worrying of large boats. Even though we were paying to stay overnight for 3 nights, it was an additional charge for the pool AND to go to the beach area. I think if you are paying to stay on the grounds this should be included.

Top notch

The best place to camp in WV in my humble opinion. Kids can enjoy themselves riding bikes and not have to worry about them getting hit by cars. You can take a kayak or even boat up to your campsite. There is a disc golf course at the campgrounds as well. If swimming in the lake isn’t your thing then the beech fork pool is not even a min away, nice big pool with 2 diving boards and also a kiddie pool for the wee little ones. All in all it’s a great place and you should definitely try it!

Nice campground

Clean facilities, quiet campground.

Will return

Great campground with super easy access to the trail and lake. The sites are spread apart enough so you aren’t right beside someone - and shaded. Well prepared sites with a clearing, fire ring, and a picnic table. Nice host and rangers too! Bathrooms were meh: the walls need cleaned or painted, no where to put your things, and there was no hand soap - no biggie though.

Neglected, but could be a gem

Very hard to contact them. It was sold in dec 2018, and the phone number has changed and not up to date on line. The sites are mostly grass a few concrete pads along the River.

30 amp service. The care taker was friendly. We did not use the restrooms, as he didn’t have the hot water on, and no offer was made to turn it on. We backed onto the Ohio River and could watch the barges. There is a coal fired generator on the opposite side of the river. This one is all location. 35.00 a night was overpriced for amenities.

Dirty pit toilets. Dirty sinks. Beautiful lake.

This state park has a beautiful lake and a nice beach. There are boat rentals and a frisbee golf course. Overall, this part of the park is beautiful. 

The campgrounds, however, leave a lot to be desired. The people were really nice, but the facilities were terrible. The pit toilets were filthy- covered in flies, spiderwebs and dirt. They look like they have not been hosed out since the 70's. The showers and sinks are in an old, old building- it could be fine if it were cleaned daily, but it was filthy too. I was there 3 days and the showers and sinks were never cleaned. They were pretty gross from the start, but then by Saturday night one shower housed a pile of feces. No kidding. Poop in the shower. 

We stayed in the camper cabin, which is just a very basic shed with a bed, bunk beds, air conditioning and heat. We stayed there because it was July and I wanted A/C and electricity. The cabin smelled like mold. 

I'd go back to this lake but will not stay in the campgrounds again.

Kayakers' Dream-- Whitewater Wonder

    Tawney Farm is part of a growing trend of agrotourism in West Virginia where farmers allow visitors to camp on their land.

    The proximity to the Gauley River makes this primitive campground an ideal place for kayakers to stay during the whitewater season in September and October.  That's when the meadows and hills around Tawney Farm will be filled with tent campers ready to ride the rapids.

     James and Susan Tawney are the perfect hosts because they're super nice and sincerely interested in talking about their sheep farm, the history of Panther Mountain, and the best places to swim, fish and kayak on the Gauley River.

    I enjoyed a couple nights of "glamping" when I stayed at the Tawney Farm "Nut House," appropriately named because James crafted it from recycled wood, including cherry, beechnut and black walnut. 

    The primitive cabin has electricity, a full-sized roll-away bed and a futon.  There's no bathroom or running water, so I used the clean port-a-potties and community propane-heated shower and had access to a fire pit and charcoal grill.

     Great hospitality!  James prepped my fire pit with free wood and Susan made sure I had plenty of charcoal, then loaned me BBQ tools so I could grill my dinner without scorching my hands.  

     The Wild and Woolly Primitive Campground includes a group area where guests can cook, wash their dishes, and hangout.  There's a small store with raw wool crafts, fresh farm eggs and black walnuts, plus and a stage for live music during the peak season.

     I wanted to make sure I got some nice photos of their sheep, so James and Susan brought the flock down for a closer look and encouraged some young guests to pet them.

     The access road to Tawney Farm is gravel with a tree growing in the middle, so take caution at night.  The nearby roads leading to the Gauley River National Recreation Area are in good shape but a little nerve-wracking because they're so narrow there's not much room to get out of the way when you come face-to-face with tour buses shuttling paddlers to and from the Gauley River.

     I checked out Mason Branch and Woods Ferry where I enjoyed some nice hiking, paddling and swimming.  Since it was summer, the kayakers I spotted were using "rubber duckies" so they could negotiate the rocky river without getting stuck.

     Mason Branch has an unmarked, unmaintained trail near the parking lot where you can see a couple of nice waterfalls.  There's a trail to the left of the lower falls that takes you to a higher waterfall the locals call "Janie's Hole."  The story I heard is Janie was a young lady who died after she either fell or jumped from the top of this falls.

     There's another interesting local story about the nearby Summersville Lake.  This crystal clear lake was created when an earthen dam was built that covered the small farming community of Gad with water.  My 98-year old mom says no one wanted to call it the "Gad Dam" because it sounded like they were using the Lord's name in vane, so they settled on the next closest town and named it the Summersville Dam.  Water released from this lake in the fall is what creates the world-class whitewater on the Gauley River.

Classically Fun KOA

We loved our stay here! The owners are so friendly and welcoming. They had so much for kids to do: a swimming pond with inflatables, gem mining, banana bikes, and more. They showed a movie at 9pm on a big inflatable movie screen outside. Lots of other families there to hang out with.

The only downside was that the tent sites are close to the interstate, so there was A LOT of road noise all night. Otherwise, it was a great camping experience!

Awesome Backpacking

Great location to earn some backpacking miles. Feels quite remote, but along the trails there are shelters, bathrooms, trash reciprocals, and other useful hookups. When camping and hiking here, you feel space and distance from other campers, with the perks of established facilities.

Very nice park

Animal friendly staff very helpful !!

Very nice park

It is checked on by staff, and they are very helpful !!

Free RV Camping-Port of Saint Albans

It's rare to find free RV camping, especially sites with 30 AMP electric hook-ups!  The City of Saint Albans has a roadside park with three RV sites where you can camp for 2-days max in a 14-day period.  The sites are first-come, first-serve, with donations encouraged.  Sorry, no tent camping….

Each RV site has electricity, a picnic table, and a trash can.  There's a sewer dump site nearby with drinking water available.  The public park restrooms offer flush toilets, but no showers.  There's a nice picnic shelter and a huge playground with some handicap-accessible swings.  A shopping center is directly across the street with a grocery store and other amenities.

This park also has a public boat ramp which is part of the Port of St. Albans.  The ramp gives you direct access to the Kanawha River which is primarily used by coal barges, speed boats and vintage paddle wheelers.  For kayakers like me, you should bare left at  the bottom of the ramp and head toward the Coal River where you can enjoy a nice, peaceful paddle without the fear of being swamped or crushed.  BTW, St. Albans is home to the annual Yak Fest, mid-June, where participants in the Tour de Coal gather to enjoy live music and local eats after a 12-mile float.

A little historic trivia.  George Washington owned 2,000 acres in the Kanawha Valley, including what is now the City of Saint Albans.

The main drawback to this roadside park is that it's butted up to MacCorkle Avenue, which is a busy roadway, so I'd describe this as urban RV camping.  On the plus side, you're 15-minutes from the capital city of Charleston, WV, which is worth a visit to see the beautiful gold-domed capitol and WV State Museum.

Amazing sights and family friendly

Great and peaceful environment. Multiple places to mountain bike, picnic, and camp. Shooting range, and there's hunting allowed in certain areas during the state's deer season. Roads could use some touching up, but overall a great place to be!

Glamping in style!

Great RV/Camper spots for your family! Although I’m more of a tent camper myself, my family members have some medical issues that require them to sleep inside and have access to electricity, so Fox Fire turned out to be a really good spot for that. Camper spots are a decent size, but they can feel a little cramped on the bigger weekends. Their camp store is stocked with everything you may need and not to mention their swimming lake is pretty fun and provided hours of entertainment for the youngins in our group. Super cool programs too! Can’t complain about a movie out by the lake. Ooh and make sure you rent a banana bike! Super fun.

Looking for a great getaway with lots of stuff to do?

Go to Beech Fork! I’ve been camping here with my family for close to ten years now and we always have a blast. I’ve stayed in primitive sites and RV sites and you can’t really go wrong with either (my review will be 4 stars until I check out the cabins)! Whether you’re looking to spend some time on the lake, fish, hike, bike, or even learn a thing or two about West Virginia history, Beech Fork will typically have you covered. The park stays clean and the staff are pretty good people as well!

Nice

Be prepared

Love Coming here!

We love coming here. It’s local for us so if we just want a weekend to get away we typically come here. The restrooms are clean, the sites are well maintained and the lake is close by for some good kayaking and fishing.

Perfect Family Destination

This Recreation Area offers hiking trails, picnic opportunities, along with shelter house rentals for those family get togethers. The damn provides an excellent place for photos, while the lake is excellent for fishing and birdwatching. Year-round Campground with Electric, tent sites are also available. Perfect quiet area for a family day trip or spending a few days.

Roadside

Its called roadside for reason. It ok for 1 or 2 nights. The bathrooms locked at night no showers. It is on river nice playground and across street from restraints and stores

Great park for us but can't guarantee the same experience for you

Why was it a very good place for us?

For us, this was a hidden gem on a Friday in September, but be aware it may not be the same experience for you. Most of the sites were open on reserveamerica.com so we knew we could just show up and choose a site. We went out to the end of area 3 (out of 5 areas) with sites 77-122 (non-electric) because it ends with a loop. There was a tent across the loop on #100. We chose #94 which had plenty of room, a sunny area for our solar panels and lots of shade. It was a great site for us.

Will your experience be different?

You need to be aware this is an old park. I would hesitate to reserve a site just by looking at sites on the online map. I've included a photo of the map the attendant had to show a view of the areas…electric and non-electric with a total of 151 sites. Many of the parking pads are extremely short although some are wide enough for a vehicle and trailer…or 2 vehicles.

Some of the areas where you can pitch a tent are pretty rough, especially at the beginning of area 3. See photos. #119 was a site in use and it looks like a great site for two tents (as long as it doesn't rain because you can see in the photo that you're in a valley).

Be aware there could be some things you might not like…short parking pads, difficult tent areas, pit toilets. There are showerhouses that include sinks but the toilets are pit toilets in separate buildings.

I did not find potable water. There were water fountains that were not running, but there were several gray water dump wells and and a dump station.

Yes, it's a bit rough around the edges. We liked that it wasn't crowded. The attendant said the park was full over Memorial Day weekend. Other campers told me there's a chili cookoff around Halloween, and it's a great place to camp around then.

If you love the amenities of a modern campground, you could be disappointed. If you like roughing it, you'll enjoy the setting. And you can show up without a reservation and choose a site.

Activities

  • The attendant told me the disc golf course attracts people because it's very good.

  • A few short hiking trails

  • Archery range

  • Forked Run Lake has a boat ramp and 400-foot sand beach.

What about cell phone service?

Verizon's network was available but not in all areas. There is decent wifi by the entrance station.

Back water activities

We live close to this park and frequent there, sometimes just day trips. Tent camping is great and just like most places there are a few sites that are the best. Park offers hiking trails from the camp sites to the beach area or packing up the swim gear and using the parking lot. The beach area is back water from the ohio river. It is a sandy rocky mixture. There are boat rentals during peak months. There is a frisbee golf course that is top notch. The only down side to this ohio state park, are the bathrooms; they are port a pot facilities that can be pretty raunchy.

Close to home

I have stayed at this park numerous times, in tents and camper. The history of the area is really interesting and if you're lucky enough to talk with the park manager he'll be happy to give you a little house coal history. I've heard rumor however that the park is losing funding. Great hiking and biking trails. Loved going through the creek!

Quiet country setting close to town

Kanawha State Forest is a great place close enough to town if you need something but situated in a nice quiet country setting surrounded by a beautiful forest. Camping offers electric and water at most sites with a couple nice bathhouses. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit. There is a public pool with reasonable rates and great food, small areas to fish, a free shooting range and tons of hiking trails. There is a horse stable but we did not visit it. The kids loved wading and rafting in the creek and the playground areas.

awesome

great place to camp and kayak. must camp 150ft from the trail. no cell service.beautiful park

hidden jewel

on the hill! this park was great. it was rainy so they moved us to this great spot on the hill. nice bathhouse even though not clean at the time. it is isolated with tight hairpin turn so I wouldn't recommend anything over 28'. they have a nice target range and trails

Beautiful, close to home

KSF is absolutely gorgeous! Whether you are taking a day trip for hiking or staying a few days, it is absolutely one of my favorite places to be.

Peaceful campground

Our family camped here in May of 2017. It is a nice camp, the facilities are clean and the staff was very pleasant and helpful. Nothing close for supplies beyond the standard camp store stuff, bring anything you may need or you will need to drive a while. The hiking loop is really good for kids, not too difficult, interesting sights.