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Monongahela National Forest, WEST VIRGINIA

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Camping West Virginia Monongahela National Forest
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Peak Bagging Coolness!

Spruce Knob is West Virginia's highest peak and on a clear day offers breathtaking 360 degree views from the Observation Tower.

Because of the thick conifer growth, long mountain views don't occur till nearly to the top and that only along the western roadway…but once you climb the observation tower…(as mentioned, on a clear day) you are rewarded with wonderful views of WV and VA mountains.  Watching storm clouds or simple clouds roll in and envelope the Knob offers a wonderful experience.

I've taken the opportunity to camp on Spruce Knob on several occasions, once to the NE of the parking lot just into the pines, once a couple hundred yards down the Seneca Backcountry trail to the right and once directly south of the Tower in the pines.  Each offered a differ experience.  There is no cost, which is a huge plus!

In the pines, just below the summit, it is eerily quiet and muffled.  I've never seen another camper when I've stayed, so the solitude is glorious.

If you want shelter and a picnic table for cooking/eating…they are available, but only along the parking lot.  Pit latrines are nearly on the summit in the parking lot near the trailhead for the Observation Tower.  So practice leave no trace when camping and hiking!! No water, so bring enough with you. There are waste receptacles but be wise and take trash with you. 

There are two levels to the concrete Observation Tower…and best views are from the upper level. I've often though about cowboy camping on the second level after the last sightseer has left for the night, but haven't seen, heard or read if its forbidden or permitted…so I haven't…yet.

Obviously, on a clear night, star gazing is incredible as there no ambient light. It is much cooler at this elevation, even in the summer…and the winds on the summit cut through like a knife. 

Note: utilize good camping practices and set camp on a previous location where there is an established fire ring. Again, use caution with campfires because of the wind.

If you desire a more established campground, Spruce Knob Lake Campground is not too far away…down the mountain.

Spruce Knob summit camping is a family highlight!

Huge Sites At A Remote, Primitive Campground

The Spruce Knob Lake Campground offers extra-large camp sites with lots of shade and so much undergrowth I only saw my neighbors when I took a walk to check out the campground. There are 45 campsites, with pit toilets and a solar-powered pump house for drinking water. No electric or sewer hook-ups, but you’ll find free apples growing at some of the sites. Sites#31 through 41 are walk-in sites for extra privacy if you’re tent camping. 

This is bear country, so don’t leave any food sitting out. Dogs are allowed as long as they’re kept on a leash. 

Spruce Knob Lake is less than a mile away and a great spot to kayak, fish, and star gaze because you won't have any city lights to interfere and trees won’t block your view. There’s a boat dock and wheelchair accessible fishing pier with the lake stocked with trout several times a year. Electric motors only; No swimming allowed. 

There are at least 60-miles of trails in the surrounding Monongahela National Forest, including the very pleasant, 1-mile, Big Bend River Trail accessible from the campground.

If you’re up for a hardy hike, you can walk 8-miles east to Spruce Knob, the highest place in the State of West Virginia at 4,863-feet. There’s a cool lookout tower at Spruce Knob where you can get a good view of the rugged mountain ridges where the red spruce get so hammered by the wind and rough weather, one side of the tree is missing. The plant life is pretty unique too, with reindeer moss visible along the Whispering Spruce Trail. 

The drive to the Spruce Knob Lake Campground is on a combination of narrow, winding, mostly unpaved roads. Go slow because there are plenty of blind curves. My A/C was out on the day I arrived, so I ate a fair amount of dust with my window partially open… Lol…. 

Directions from the website: 

From Riverton, WV, take U.S. Route 33 south 2 miles to Briery Gap Road(County Road 33/4). Turn right onto Briery Gap Road. Go 2 miles to Forest Road 112, turn right and continue for 13.5 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 1. The campground is 1/2 mile on the right. From Elkins, WV, take U.S. Route 33 to State Route 29, which is 1 mile west of Harman. Turn right onto SR 29, go south 18.6 miles and tum left onto Forest Road 1. Follow FR 1 for 2.5 miles.

Note:  Seneca Rocks is less than an hour away and well-worth a visit!

Perfect Location!

If you're a fan of hiking and rock climbing at Seneca Rocks, Seneca Shadows is absolutely the best campground near this fantastic rock formation. 

It’s located in the Monongahela National Forest near the North Fork South Branch of the Potomac River with nearby peaks ranging from 1,000 feet to nearly 5,000 feet above sea level. Seneca Shadows campground offers a view of the famed Seneca Rocks and puts you within walking distance of the visitor’s center, hiking and climbing trails, plus the quaint town of Seneca Rocks where you buy gas, food and gifts. 

Make sure you visit Harper’s Old Country Store, a 4th generation family run business, operating since 1902. The visitor’s center has a nice collection of Native American artifacts and a cool video of the Army soldiers who trained here before WWII. 

Seneca Shadows Campground is a modern campground with paved parking, flush toilets, showers and an amphitheater. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and lantern post. Seneca Shadows is part of a growing trend where a private concessionaire is a running a public camp-ground. I’m not a huge fan since it often mean higher fees, but I must say that the campground was spotless and well-run by a delightful couple who obviously enjoyed their summer job. 

Seneca Shadows Campground has three loops to chose from: 

The A& B Loops are for tents or RVs with no electric service. 

The C-Loop has electricity. 

There's also a group camping area and a "tent-only" camping area with walk-in sites from a nearby parking lot.

Spruce Knob and Dolly Sods are nearby and both deserve a spot on your outdoor adventure“bucket list” in West Virginia.

Great stay!

Friendly staff got us in on a very busy weekend! We had a great site on the river. Spaces were small but big enough for all our equipment. They had an awesome pool that was heated, hot tubs, mini golf and good playgrounds. My kids were in heaven. Would recommend to others and stay again if we were in the area.

Great Campground

Plenty of room at each site, great lake for fishing even has a beach in the mountains, clean bathrooms both wooded and open lots. Only negative was no Wifi.

Small number of sites

Nice, first come, first served campground. Toilets were very clean, but just covered a hope in the ground. Beautiful morning, but seems to stay chillier than the surrounding area. It's in a valley and two sites back up to the lake. There is access to the lake for canoes/kayaks.

Nice campground.

Good spot. Nice sized sites. Could be better patrolled. There was a group of people that brought a drum and just beat on it until about midnight. The lower sites were a little closer to the road. There is a water pump, but currently broken.

Kumbrabow State Forest

Stayed: 10/12/19

Site: 7 (Non-electric)

Price: $16

Pros: Quiet, Small, Creek, Snowshoe DH Park

Cons: Lengthy dirt road drive to get there, No cell coverage or Wi-Fi, 2 mile drive to bath house

Secret campsites along river!

We stayed one night at Cranberry Campground during Columbus Day weekend, it was busier than the other two campgrounds (Big Rock and Bishop Knob) and was primarily occupied by RV campers who tended to park nearest the toilets.  We found a good tucked in site (#27) that was close to the water pump and was surrounded by the woods.  The two walk-up site (#23 + #24) were also tucked away nicely and were not far at all from where a car would park, I would suggest this if you needed two sites and wanted some privacy.  $10 a night, has picnic table, water pump, toilets, and lantern thingy.  This campground was close enough to the river but the sites are not directly on the river side. 

With RVers comes generators and happily they complied with the 10pm - 6am quiet times.  However, my style of camping is back country seclusion accessible by car (and a picnic table and a water pump), I know I'm ridiculous.  So we moved the next day to an empty 5-site campground ($5 a night) right on the river and between Big Rock and Cranberry campgrounds.  Highly recommend the campsites along the river!  Access to fishing is directly from your campsite, the water sounds so nice at night, and I love the river side exploring.  

Additional bonus for those visiting in the fall is the periodic apple tree.  We had one right next to our site and happily snacked on a few.  

Monogahela- Gauley Ranger District… 

I found all three campgrounds easy to find and the signage from Forest Road 76 was suffiecient. We rarely had GPS on the back roads and mountain area in WV so be sure to print directions jic. Had service in Richwood though, which I recommend checking out if you have a rainy day or you need last minute camping supplies. They have an outfitter, Four Seasons Outfitter, that we purchased our firewood from(it rained so"dead and down" wasn't gonna help). They might sell fishing license too but we bought our fishing licenses from a different outfitter in Marlinton, WV. Marlinton is also a good pit stop. 

This area of Monogahela was lovely, there were tons of great spots along the Cranberry River to explore. We heard and/or saw some wildlife/signs of wild life. No bears which is good I guess, we were careful not to attract them to our campsite. I was surprised not to see or be visited by a ranger while were at Monogahela (two nights) especially given that it was a holiday weekend.

Quiet on Columbus Day Weekend

Bishop Knob Specific…

Visited the camp site Columbus Day weekend and it was empty but for one RV camper.  I imagine this site is a good back up if the Big Rock, Cranberry Campgrounds are full or you just wanted a spot that was quieter.   Very well kept and had all the basics, water, toilet, picnic table, lantern hook, and fire pit.  

The second loop was closed (presumably for the rest of the fall/winter season). The Monogahela National Forest website lists there being fishing nearby, but as far as i could tell you still have to drive to get to the water.  We wanted to fish off our campsite so we did not stay over night at Bishop Knob.

Monogahela - Gauley Ranger District… 

I found all three campgrounds easy to find and the signage from Forest Road 76 was suffiecient.  We rarely had GPS on the back roads and mountain area in WV so be sure to print directions jic.  Had service in Richwood though, which I recommend checking out if you have a rainy day or you need last minute camping supplies.  They have an outfitter, Four Seasons Outfitter, that we purchased our firewood from (it rained so "dead and down" wasn't gonna help).  They might sell fishing license too but we bought our fishing licenses from a different outfitter in Marlinton, WV.  Marlinton is also a good pit stop.   

This area of Monogahela was lovely, there were tons of great spots along the Cranberry River to explore.  We heard and/or saw some wildlife/signs of wild life.  No bears which is good I guess, we were careful not to attract them to our campsite.  I was surprised not to see or be visited by a ranger while were at Monogahela (two nights) especially given that it was a holiday weekend.

Hidden gem

This tiny campground in the Monongahela National Forest was such a fun find! There are less than 30 sites and most have a good bit of privacy. There is one building with showers and flush toilets near the entrance, and several outhouse style toilets scattered around. My kids didn't love those so we took a lot of trips down to the bathroom building. The 1.5 mile loop trail was great and just challenging enough to be fun. The campground and trail are filled with beautiful mountain laurel. The hosts were friendly and available and the whole place seemed to be well maintained. Elkins is only a few minutes away if you need groceries or supplies. We had a great time and would definitely come back!

Good calm place

Great Campground some spots a little tight for bigger camper we have a 30’ but we were okay. Very quiet nice rangers and very helpful.


wonderful lil campground nestled away in the woods. quiet, peaceful and serene. pit toilet's and trash bins on site. lampposts, fire rings and picnic tables on each site. level gravel pads on most sites. wildlife galore. truly wonderful small campground.

Just Beautiful ‼️

The Holly River runs clear through the Park, right beside a good many of the of the sites and hanging a hammock and listening to the water, can’t be beat! The staff/Rangers are so wonderful! A small restaurant, gift shop, pool, waterfalls, cabins, trails, it is so calming and relaxing! Love it!

Nice Trip

Camped at Douthat State Park. Great area for swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, boating, etc. Nice Lake Moomaw views ☀️ ⛵️🛶

Easy Access to Cranberry Wilderness

The Cranberry Campground is a semi-primitive campground located next to the Cranberry River which gets high-use during the trout stocking season in the spring and summer. It's first-come, first-serve, so there's often more demand than supply during the peak season. 

Each campsite has a picnic table, fire ring and lamp-hanging post. There are a couple hand-pumps to access well water, and some self-ventilating pit toilets which are surprising odor-free. 

The Cranberry Campground can accommodate tent campers as well as RV's and 5th-wheelers up to 40-feet long. There are 28-single campsites, plus 2 double campsites in 2-separate loops. No electricity, or hook-ups. There's a dump station for an extra$5 fee. 

If you're in a tent, there are 2 campsites across a bridge in a heavily-wooded area for more privacy. There are also good tent camping sites along the Cranberry River and more sites in the Bishop Knob campground, plus free shelters for backpackers long the 16-mile Cranberry Wilderness Trail, if you want to avoid a bunch of RV campers. 

No firewood for sale, but you're welcome to gather whatever limbs, logs, etc. that you find on the ground and in the surrounding forest. This is bear-country, so food needs to be kept out of reach of black bears. Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a leash at all times. 

I camped in mid-September and only saw one other couple my entire stay. This is a great camping spot for easy access to numerous trails in the Cranberry Wilderness and Cranberry Backcountry. It's also a great location to access the Cranberry Glades Boardwalk, Cranberry Mountain Nature Center and the Highland Scenic Highway. 

If you drive the Highland Scenic Highway, I recommend a stop at the Falls of Hills Creek. The trail can be difficult, with dozens of steep stairs, but worth the effort to see the 45-foot middle falls and the 65-foot lower falls. Beautiful, even though the water was low during my visit. 

The water was too low for kayaking during my visit, but when it's up, the middle Cranberry River has Class-III and Class-IV rapids. 

Directions from Richwood: Drive one mile east on State Route 39/55, then 12.5 miles north on Forest Road 76. 

You can get a good maps here: 

Gauley Ranger District Office: 932 North Fork Cherry Road Richwood, WV 26261 Cranberry Mountain Nature Center near the junction of WV 150& WV 39. It's closed mid-week, but I was able to get a map from the outside literature rack.

Remote Campground Next To The Cranberry River

Big Rock Campground is a small heavily-wooded campground, with five-spaces, located next to the Cranberry River in Nicholas County, WV.  Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and lantern pole.

This campground is popular for remote fishing when the Cranberry River is up and it gives hikers access to numerous trails in the Cranberry Wilderness.  The water was very low when I visited in September, so I didn't have to compete for a camping spot.

No reservations, so it's first-come first-serve.  Big Rock Campground uses the "honor system" where you self-register and pay a $10 fee.  

If this campground if full, there are at least ten camping spots located next to the Cranberry River where the access to water and toilets is rather random, but the fee is only $5.  Rangers describe these spots as the "Cranberry Bottom." 

Big Rock Campground would be best for tent campers, but RV vans and small campers can fit in the spaces, just don't expect any electricity or deluxe hook-ups.  There is a hand-pump to access well water and nearly odorless self-ventilating pit toilet.  There's no firewood for sale, but you can gather wood from the ground and cut dead trees in all the campgrounds in the Monongahela National Forest.

If you have a larger trailer, or 5th wheel, continue down the gravel road another 4-miles to the much larger Cranberry Campground.

This is bear country, so food should be stored off the ground or inside your car/truck.  Bear-proof trash cans are provided.

Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a leash at all times.

Directions from Richwood:  Drive one mile east on State Route 39/55, then 6 miles north on Forest Road 76, a nicely-graded gravel road.

*Make sure you gas up and get any necessary supplies in Richwood because you won't find any services near this campground.

Best lake camp trip eva

For car camping. It wasn’t too glamorous. It is primitive. But damn she beautiful. No neighbors. Maybe we just got lucky. I encourage.

Beautiful campground .

This is a great campground with nice large sites. I can imagine if you go when the rhododendron are blooming it would be ever more beautiful . There’s great swimming hole in the park you can pay 5 to enter and swim or fish. Nice flat tent pad . Very clean with a great clean bathroom and shower house .

Very peaceful and nice!

Watoga State Park near Marlinton, WV will in no way disappoint! Located right on the beautiful Greenbrier River, the camping is perfect for bringing your kayaks! Watoga offers primitive and electric only sites, but there is water to fill up with throughout the park and a dumping station. My family and I have loved camping at Watoga over the years and will go for years to come!!!

Loved it and trails were awesome

Electric or dry camping. Huge tent area that looked really cool. Showers were $5 for non campers. Some toilets flush some pit. Try to get there before sundown because it is VERY DARK on those roads getting there. No moon or light with several 6 and 7% grades. when you arrive there will be signs to register at the amphitheater, but park in the parking lot because the sign leads you to dead end. This area is also where the dump station is at. It costs $7 cash only at amphitheater. Firewood is $7 as well. Sites had picnic tables, fire rings, and lots of trees for privacy. Walk through the open field tent area for path to stores and that have climbing gear and snacks. Cross the road to the big open field and follow mowing path to Seneca Rocks learning center and trail heads to Seneca Rocks and a swimming hole. Don’t miss the swimming!! Even mid summer, the water was cool. Would have brought a float if I’d known. Download trail maps and driving directions prior to trip. There is no cell service for at least an hour around the campground. This goes for Verizon and Sprint. If you need cash the Yokum’s store has an ATM before coming into the campground. Great campsites and awesome hiking. Dumpster is at loop C and potable water is at loop B.

Close to Skydiving!

Have stayed here twice when skydiving at Skydive Shenandoah. I will say the tent sites aren’t super desirable. Not private and gravel. The cabins though - perfect for one or two people, has a fire ring. Both times we had a nice stay, both times in a cabin. Lots of antiquing and flea marketing in the area.

Remote and isolated deep in the forest

This place feel and literally is in the middle of nowhere. It takes forever on dirt forest service roads to finally stumble upon this place, making its beauty that much more enchanting. A nice creek, pit toilets…it’s remote. It doesn’t have a lot of amenities.

Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks is one of my favorite places to visit in WV. The discovery center offers a bounty of information on the rocks, and many local outfitters offer climbing excursions. As always, be mindful to not leave food out!!! Bears a plenty.

Convenience camping

Nice place to stay close to natural bridge. Your average koa, well kept wasn't too busy considering location and time of year would stay again!

Nice stop over

Close to 81, but hyway isn't a distraction for a good night's sleep. And we were closest to hyway then majority of campers. Friendly staff. Pleasant clean surroundings in campgrounds. Clean pool, rest rooms, laundromat. Outdoor fire pit gazebo.

Wild and wonderful

Very nice folks in the camp store. Very centrally located to many fun attractions including the railroad tours, Mongahelia National Forest, Davis and Elkins College, etc. There is a saloon on site (Shavers) that has live music in the weekends. You have to go to Smoke on the Water for dinner.

Beautiful Family Run Business

Very well run clean campgrounds. We had a river lot which was beautiful. Restaurant, Shavers Saloon, was walking distance and had full bar with good food. Service there was great. Bathrooms were older but very clean. Plenty of hot water.


This campground is small and secluded. Sites are spread out and large. Really a beautiful place. The ranger on duty was extremely rude but it could almost be overlooked because of the amazing location. Most of the sites have creek access.