First-time camper? 7 tips to help you get the most out of your trip.

From scouting and family trips to backcountry excursions, many fond memories are made with friends and family around a campfire.

While camping is one of the most popular outdoor activities, not everyone has been fortunate enough to have gone camping. That’s OK because it’s never too late to start. Camping can be an affordable and accessible way to experience the outdoors.

If you’ve never been camping before and are exploring the possibility of camping in West Virginia, here are a few tips to help you plan a successful trip.

First time planning a camping trip? Do your research.

When it comes to camping, Dillard Price, the superintendent at Beech Fork State Park, says the best advice he can give is to plan ahead and do plenty of research. Dillard knows a thing or two about camping. He oversees four campgrounds with a total of 275 campsites — the most in the West Virginia State Parks system.

A properly prepared camper is ready to make lasting memories with friends and family. But don’t worry if you forget something. State park camp stores stock necessities like electrical adapters, toilet paper, fire starters and propane tanks for gas grills. You can even pick up snacks and drinks or a souvenir T-shirt.

For a hassle-free camping experience at any state park or forest, follow these pro tips and best practices:

First Time Camping Pro Tips

  • Plan for weather events. Even the hottest summers may experience bouts of cold wind and rain. Pack a range of clothing and shoes (maybe even hats and gloves) to suit sudden changes in temperature or precipitation.
  • The three most important items to bring? Sleeping gear, flashlights and bug spray. “People often forget the bug spray,” Price said.
  • RV campers: When reserving your campsite, make sure it has the electrical service you need—whether it’s 30 amp or 50 amp.
  • Tent campers: Set up in a level spot in case of rain; you don’t want water in your tent! Pitch your tent in the shade if you have the opportunity. (Campsite photos are posted online.)

Camping Best Practices

  • Thinking of bringing your pup? Great news: Dogs are welcome in state park campgrounds! Just remember to follow leash laws and always clean up after your pets.
  • Help control spread of invasive species: Never bring in firewood from outside the area! Local firewood is available for purchase from the camp store.
  • Use the fire ring or grill already provided at your campsite, and never leave a campfire unattended.

Find a list of West Virginia State Park campgrounds here and start planning your Almost Heaven getaway today!