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Charleston, WEST VIRGINIA

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Most Recent Charleston Camping Reviews
Great camp ground!

We stayed here to smoke test our new camper trailer and had a great experience! Relatively small and deep within the state forest, you'll start to wonder if you passed it by the time you get there, but keep going and you'll eventually arrive! The staff is finally, the campground well equipped, and the bath house was clean, though it could use a coat of paint inside.

OVERPRICED

Maybe I am not used to KOA prices but $52 a night for a FHU seems high! The owners were nice and accommodating! The site while somewhat level was gravel and wet from day’s storm (poor drainage) ! I booked from afar and was not able to find other campgrounds near Charleston, WV.

campground is really nice, as long as the locals are'nt in force,,,

really nice campground as long as the local crowd has'nt taken over. been there several times and left early as did other families due the disruptive nonsense of a few. if not for that, very nice campground

Peaceful

Very peaceful website. No shade and campsites are close but the setup is great.

fairly nice small campground, but,,,,

clean restrooms, for the most part nice spacious campsites. fire ring, lamp hanging post, picnic table and pea gravel tent pads. the 3 star rating, been there 4 times now and left early on 3 occasions due to the locals and or self announcing homeless with their lack of respect for ALL other campers peace. have seen others packing up and leaving early for the same reason. most likely will not be going back.

Nice camping!

Had a great time at this campground. Easy to find, sites are tucked into the woods with a lot of space, good shower rooms. We enjoyed it!

Nice Place

Friendly owner. Friendly campground dog who likes to roam free and check on tenants. Stayed one night on 9/8/19. Campgrounds was dog friendly. I was able to let my well behaved dog off leash to play frisbee for a bit and walk around. $18 for two people. Has showers. Sites are mostly level, wooded and the grass was mowed nice. Not a lot of dirt or mud which is always a plus. Had AT&T and Sprint cell signal. Most campsites filled by dark except for the cabins. Just pull in, stop, pay the lady and pick a spot.

Great Primitive Camping

Stayed one night on 9/7/19. Camped in campsite #1. I think the campsites where all full shortly after dark. Very quiet. Have new vault toilets. Heard a Barred Owl at night. Was able to let my dog off the leash down by the river to play and even played frisbee in our campsite and on the camp road. Trash bins on site. Charcoal grills at sites. The gravel road to get here is a fun drive. Had AT&T cell signal down by the river but no Sprint Signal.

Beech Fork State Park

We spent a week camping at Beech Fork. There were things we liked and didn't like. If you are looking for laid back, kayaking, fire building, kids playing, fishing, camping trip, then this is the place to be. It is very safe for kids. The park ranger makes his rounds quite frequently. The only thing we did not like is, there is no swimming in the lake. There is a pool very close but you still have to pay if you are camping there - at least discount the price to campers. There is beach access but it takes 30-45 minutes to drive to it.

Gorgeous location

Stayed in the cabins. Small but gets the job done. Stocked with basic kitchenware. Bunk beds are fun for the kids. Some good hiking trails on the state park that lead to the New River. Otherwise plenty of other trails in reasonable driving distance.

Worth An Extended Stay

I stayed at Chief Logan for 3-days and 2-nights and didn’t get to do or see everything I wanted to experience at this wonderful WV State Park, so it’s worth an extended stay. 

Chief Logan has 26 level RV camping spots with water and electricity at all sites and a sewer connection at about half of them. The park also has a large open field for group camping or enough space for about 40 to 50 individual tents for those who prefer a more primitive experience. No water or electricity at the primitive campground, but you’re within walking distance of the main bathhouse which was nice and clean during my stay.   Here's a link for an interactive map of the Chief Logan campground where there's cell phone service for both AT&T and Verizon customers.

When you check-in at the park headquarters, make sure you visit the adjoining museum which gives you some background on the local coal industry and the hardy settlers who clashed with the American Indians when this area was still used as their hunting grounds. The gift shop has a variety of souvenirs with their#1 best sellers tied to alleged sightings of “Big Foot,” not Chief Logan… Lol… 

Chief Logan State Park has lots of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. I hiked the Coal Mine Trail with remnants of the coal industry decaying in the forest, then continued on the Wilderness Trail which gives you a nice view of the surrounding mountains. I was super impressed by the maintenance staff when I reported offensive graffiti on the Guyandotte Beauty Trail and a crew hiked into the woods and painted over it before I even had time to show my photos to Superintendent Bruce Collinsworth.

There are a variety of shelters and playgrounds scattered throughout the nearly 4,000 acre forest so you can spread out and enjoy the park without feeling like you’re fighting any crowds. 

I didn’t get to try the Chief Logan swimming pool, but it looked amazing with a giant slide, high dive and kiddie pool. There's also a stocked fishing pond in this park.

There’s a small wildlife center where you can see bears, bobcats and raptors in enclosures for a$2.00 donation. The caretaker helped me get some nice photos of the bears by putting some honey and peanut butter on the fence around their enclosure. You won’t have to pay a dime to see deer. I spotted dozens of does, bucks and fawns during my stay, so keep your eyes peeled because they don’t seem terribly cautious around people or cars. 

I should add that nearly 100 elk have recently been reintroduced in and around Chief Logan State Park. I didn’t see any elk during my visit, but I plan a return trip in the fall when naturalist Lauren Cole offers tours during the mating season. 

I can’t write a Chief Logan State Park review without mentioning the outdoor theater. Actors had just wrapped a sold-out run of “Deadly Divide” about the bloody history of the Hatfields and McCoys and were practicing for the “Lion King, Jr.” Chief Logan also has an entertainment venue called“Pickin’ In The Park,” where you can hear some local bluegrass music on the weekends. 

Chief Logan also has a really nice lodge and some new deluxe cabins about 2-miles from the main portion of this state park. The lodge has a restaurant and conference rooms, plus there’s a modern recreational center nearby which includes a heated indoor swimming pool, weight room, tennis courts, and elevated walking track. Admission to the rec center is free for lodge guests, but campers can also use the facility for$10/day or$32/month for a family of four… Deal! 

So why is such a grandiose state park located in the middle of Lincoln County, WV, where the decline of the coal industry has left many in poverty? Former WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is from Lincoln County, so he made sure big bucks where channeled into his home turf, including a nerve jangling connector road that links the main portion of Chief Logan State Park to the lodge and rec center. This road, named “Tomblin Drive,” in his honor, is so steep and curvy it’s closed during the winter months. 

Additional things/do to see nearby: The Coal Heritage Trail, Blair Mountain, Hatfield and McCoy ATV Trails, and the City of Logan.

great primitive campsite on the river

This is a cool spot.  You can camp here for free on first come first serve basis.  Also can access by boat if taking a trip on the river. sandy sites. Not much nearby. You walk down a set a stairs to the sites.

Great place to camp

Army Camp is my favorite place to camp. 10 tent sites. 2 are handicap. Has always been quiet with good people camping while I was here. Area for people to swim in the river or fish. One trail on far side of parking area that I haven’t been on yet. Great area.

Coal Country Culture at a Historic State Park

Cabwaylingo is off the beaten path, but definitely worth a visit! It's one of the oldest WV state parks, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. Described as a"hidden gem" on the state website, I was the only camper in the entire 8,200-acre property on a warm Sunday afternoon. Sad this beautiful state forest is so underutilized. 

Cabwaylingo sits on a portion of four different counties, namely: Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mingo, which helps explain the origin of the exotic-sounding name. The forest has two campgrounds, lots of picnic shelters, 100-capacity bunkhouses with a huge kitchen, plus some gorgeous historic cabins which now have A/C. The outdoor pool is closed due to a lack of funding, but there's swimming hole in the nearby creek which is also used for baptisms by local churches. 

The stonework in this park is amazing, especially the superintendent's residence which was built by Italian stone masons. It's located across the street from the park headquarters, so be sure and check it out. 

I pulled into the Spruce Creek Campground which appeared nicely maintained, but there was no campground host, no other campers, and the bathhouses were locked, so I wasn't sure if it was open for use. I found out from the superintendent the next morning that it's difficult to keep a campground host because it's an unpaid position. He said I could have pulled in and picked one of 11 spots, then the night watchman would have shown up to check me in and unlock the bathrooms. Good to know, if you're just passing through with no reservation like I was. Here's another tip from the superintendent: If you pull up next to the satellite dish by the bathhouse, there's Internet service with no pass code.

I ended up driving to the Tick Ridge primitive campground which lived up to its name. Again, no host and no campers, so this isolated campground tends to attract partying locals and ATV riders who use the nearby county road. The bathhouse here is permanently closed due to a dried up well, so the only facilities are the ancient pit toilets. I was surprised that I had phone service high on the hill, thanks to an AT&T tower on a nearby ridge. I wouldn't camp here again, but I might make the 2-mile drive to checkout the old Tick Ridge Fire Tower built by the CCC in 1935. I'm bummed I didn't know about it and missed it during my stay. 

The drive to Cabwaylingo State Forest is half the adventure. You'll be motoring through the heart of southern West Virginia's coal country where you'll cross several single-lane bridges and pass through at least one historic tunnel chiseled out of the surrounding rock. 

You'll see the economic impact of the decline of the coal industry with many businesses shuttered, so best to stock up on groceries and gas before you get too far off the beaten path where there's often no phone or Internet service. 

I stopped for gas at the Dingess Service Center where locals can pull-up and pump fuel, but you'll have to go inside and leave your credit card before the manager will turn the vintage pump on. I bought a cold caffeinated beverage and visited with some local residents about their favorite pastimes, the coal industry, and the poor job market that's causing their young people to flee. Everyone was super-friendly after I explained I was reviewing Cabwaylingo in an attempt to encourage more tourism.

The Dingess Service Center is located near the infamous Dingess Tunnel which is a former train tunnel, nearly a mile-long, stained with the bloody history of train wrecks and purported deaths of foreign laborers killed by locals. Whatever the truth is, the 60's-era conversion to a single-lane road for cars still makes for a nail-biting drive. They were paving the roadway when I came through, so the tunnel was closed, but I did drive through a similar, but much shorter, tunnel which runs between Dingess and Breeden. 

There are lots of churches along the access road to Cabwaylingo, including a couple of Old Regular Baptist Churches, found almost exclusively in remote areas of Appalachia. This denomination does not use musical instruments so they have a song leader who chants a line of the hymn, with the congregation repeating a more elaborate version. It's a mournful-sounding form of worship called"line-out hymnody" which dates back to the 1700's. There are a few samples on YouTube which sound like remnants of some ancient Celtic church service.

Ranger Review: Banner and Oak Hats at River Expeditions

Campground Review: 

River Expeditions in Oak Hill, WV, is an all-in-one camping-to-glamping resort for outdoor adventures in the New River Gorge where I shared a 3-day adventure with a young lady who was a first-time camper. We both enjoyed the friendly, knowledgeable staff and all the amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, game room, restaurant and saloon.

River Expeditions offers tent camping, safari tents, RV sites, bungalows, mini-cabins, deluxe cabins, and even luxury cabins with private hot tubs. Prices range from$15/night for tent camping to nearly $400 for the luxury cabins with a 15% discount for booking online, and a 50% discount from November 1st to March 3rd. All accommodations include a complimentary continental breakfast. 

River Expeditions is spread out over a 100-acres, with the tent camping located in open meadows, surrounded by trees. The RV camp sites are too close together for my taste and the gravel parking spots are all on a slant, so it would be a challenge for larger trailers to get level there. My camping buddy and I upgraded from my tent to my RV van due to thunderstorms and heavy rain. We selected spot#6 which allowed us to park parallel to the electricity and mostly avoid the downhill slant. 

The New River Gorge National River has some of the best whitewater rafting in the country, so we booked a trip on the lower New River and it was great! River Expeditions has good gear and great guides like Porter who had us cracking up when he shared some local folklore. He gave us lots of opportunities for a relaxing swim outside the raft. We also got to test the power of a whirlpool and jump off a huge rock, while we paddled downstream through the rapids. 

The New River Gorge is a climber’s dream, so we booked an evening of rock climbing with David Wolff, Director of the New River Climbing School and he was amazing! I would describe David as an expert instructor, combined with psychological counselor, who helped my camping buddy cope with her fear of heights during the rappelling portion of the outing. 

There are lots of great hiking trails in the New River Gorge. The 2-mile Endless Wall Trail has been rated the #1 National Park trail by USA Today. The view from Diamond Point is amazing, with the rocky outcroppings overlooking the New River. You’ll often see climbers scaling nearby rock walls and you can watch rafts negotiating the rapids in the river below. Tip: There are two small parking lots which can fill up fast, you may want to arrive early on the weekends. If you have a big party, you can carpool from the Canyon Rim Visitor’s Center which is worth a visit to use their flush toilets and get free trail maps. 

We also hiked the 3-mile Long Point Trail which gives you an amazing view of the New River Bridge, a steel arch bridge, more than 3,000 feet long, which spans the gorge. If you visit on the third Saturday of October, you can join tens of thousands of visitors who watch dare devils base jump from the structure during the annual Bridge Day celebration. 

On the final day of our visit, we tried River Expeditions’ 3-part zipline in the pouring rain, something I wouldn’t repeat because I was too soaked and cold to enjoy the experience. I’d describe it as a beginner’s zipline, so if you’re looking for something more dramatic, with better views, you may want to check out the competition at Ace Adventure Resort

The only negative caveat of our stay was a run-in with the resort owner caused by unpredictable hours for the pool and other amenities, which closed early with no advanced warning.  We were threatened with eviction when I used the half-covered hot tub at 9:30 PM after we were told at check in it stayed open until 10 PM.

Product Review: 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time, so my camping buddy and I wore Banner and Oak hats during our 3-day adventure in the New River Gorge.

I want to be honest, without trashing Banner and Oak, because I love their American-made hats and would definitely recommend them. 

With that said, I’m disappointed that Banner and Oak has apparently abandoned their founding pledge to sell American-designed and fabricated hats, with 95% of the materials sourced in the United States. 

I noticed the recent change when I opened my sample box and two of three hats inside were made in China and Bangladesh. 

My favorite hat of the trio is the American-made Banner and Oak Scout with a patch that pleases my soul, featuring the phrase“Freedom To Explore” embroidered across the top with a stars and stripes tent centered underneath. This hat is well-made, with quality materials, and generates positive comments whenever I wear it. 

The quality of the China-made Banner and Oak Trailhead hat is fine, but the brand is unknown in West Virginia, so when I showed it to other campers, they wanted to know something about the company. I told them Banner and Oak is a relatively new American apparel brand headquartered in Arkansas, so they seemed confused by the“Made in China” tag inside. 

The hat made in Bangladesh is the Banner and Oak Pathfinder from the women’s line. The quality is noticeably inferior, with puckered seams and the front logo slightly off-center.

All three Banner and Oaks hats I tested have a list price of nearly $30/each, so my buying preference would be for any style of their top-quality, American-made hats, designed, fabricated and sourced in the USA.

Gorgeous Water Views

Right across the street from our usual spot at the New, my friends stayed at this site with a couple other friends this week. They stayed in a group with their families, we swing by to get a view of the lake and hangout on the little shelter / play area. Great location for families, with good roads, and other amenities. Right by Summersville Dam, a gas station, local shops and restaurants, and many cool boating and recreation locations. Right before the dam there is a location you can camp in for free, but this would be a better location for kids and dogs to run around.

Free Camping with Amenities

Whenever we go and rock climb at New River Gorge on a budget, we stay at this free site. They have CLEAN bathrooms, water hookups, showers, tables, fire rings, and grills. Each time we’ve stayed at the site, we’ve met really cool climbers and families. Great place for the adventurous group on a budget, or a family that would like to fall asleep listening to a river. Very close to Summersville Lake, where there is a lot of boating, deep water soloing, and hiking.

Free Camping with Amenities

Whenever we go and rock climb at New River Gorge on a budget, we stay at this free site. They have CLEAN bathrooms, water hookups, showers, tables, fire rings, and grills. Each time we’ve stayed at the site, we’ve met really cool climbers and families. Great place for the adventurous group on a budget, or a family that would like to fall asleep listening to a river. Very close to Summersville Lake, where there is a lot of boating, deep water soloing, and hiking.

Great place to stay.

Perfect place to camp if you are going rafting with Ace or if you want to enjoy the waterpark. Great price, nice clean campground and sites are not stacked on top of each other. Very nice shower house about a 3 min walk from the campground. One of my favorite camp sites in that part of the state. So much stuff to do right down the hill without even leaving the resort ! Restaurant and general store at bottom of the hill and a nice pond to wake up and fish in. Mountain bike and hiking trails all over. This is an awesome place to stay.

Friendly campground

You are looking for a nice and simple campground, this is the place! The owner is a sweet lady. We go there each time we rock climb at the New.

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!

Great little campground near Mt Hope, WV and near BSA's "Summit"

We had a great time at this campground. Very close to the BSA's"Summit Bechtel" site, where they hold the National Jamborees and held the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. As such, people registered for the full event stayed there, and those of us coming for just a few days stayed at other nearby places, such as Rifrafters. The camp was(understandably) filled with others coming for the Jamboree.:-) 

Campsite was good and clean; short walk for all to the bath house; they ha a small playground, which the kids loved. They have wood for sale, as well as basic camping and food supplies(cans of beans, marshmallows, peanut butter, sodas/pop/cola, etc, lighters/matches, ice, etc). Also had 2 super-lovey kittens living in the office, which were a big hit with everyone. 

The only downsite was that our campsite(#7) had no place for a tent other than stone driveway-like ground. As such, even new, very strong tent stakes bend and do not go in at all…had to weigh the tent down with gear and hope for no super-high gusts of wind. 

Other than that, it was a great experience! Checkout by 12 noon at the latest.

Fantastic campground hosts

Staff was excellent, had a great time camping and rafting. Bath house was clean. Will definitely come back again.

Awesome

We were there 4 days extremely peaceful ..only one other camper .. not much shade but beautiful night sky !! Minimal cell service .. 1 mile curvy mountain climb to get here but our 30 ft class A made it just fine !!

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.

Wooded tent campsites

Stayed here 2 nights with all our children and grandchildren. We had a great couple days with rain at times. Site was large with lots of trees. Seth was very friendly and helpful. This is a nonelectric site campground and I found that appealing. There are flush toilets and showers. We hiked Endless Wall Trail and Glade Creek Trail to Kate’s Falls

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!