SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If inquiries about application forms to reserve campsites at West Virginia's state parks and forests are an indication, 2013 could be a banner year for camping.
Twenty-nine state park areas manage campgrounds. Many of those areas also feature lodges, cabins, cottages, swimming pools and other outdoor recreation options. Campgrounds begin opening in mid-March and are somewhat dependent on good weather.
Reservations for designated campsites run from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends at most areas. Prior to the Friday before Memorial Day, sites are on a first-come, first-served basis, with the exception of Stonewall and Canaan Valley resorts.
Stonewall Resort campsites may be reserved for any time of the year, weather permitting, for the 46 full hook-up sites. Canaan Valley's 34 campsites may be reserved from May 1 through October, weather permitting.
Reservations at seven areas are first-come, first-served only. Those campgrounds are located at Audra and Moncove Lake state parks, Seneca State Forest and Berwind, Bluestone, Panther and Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Areas. The natural settings and relaxed atmosphere with fewer amenities remain popular.
Twenty parks and forests have reservable sites and an inventory of some first-come, first-served sites also. Pipestem Resort is an exception. All sites at Pipestem may be reserved from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Other areas with designated reservable and first-come, first-served sites are: Babcock, Beech Fork, Blackwater Falls, Bluestone, Camp Creek, Cedar Creek, Chief Logan, Holly River, Little Beaver, North Bend, Tomlinson Run, Twin Falls, Tygart Lake and Watoga state parks; and Cabwaylingo, Coopers Rock, Greenbrier, Kanawha and Kumbrabow state forests. Holly River campground, which was closed after superstorm Sandy in October, will reopen in 2013; those dates will be posted on the park website.
Of the 275 campsites at Beech Fork State Park in Cabell County, 136 may be reserved beginning March 15. An online reservation service will be available for Beech Fork State Park with online access located on www.beechforksp.com. Mail-in applications for the reservation sites will be taken Feb. 15 through March 14. On March 15 both phone-in and the new online reservation options for campsites reserved from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend will be accepted.
Parks begin processing mail-in applications on Feb. 15 of each camping year. On March 15, campsite reservations for site occupancy dates from the Friday before Memorial Day to Labor Day are taken by phone and via mail. On April 1, walk-in reservations are processed. Applications and information for each park with reservable sites is located at www.wvstateparks.com; click the Lodging and Camping tab, then Campgrounds.
For camping dates before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, sites become first-come, first-served. For information about campgrounds, visit www.wvstateparks.com.