Keep cool on the water at West Virginia State Parks

Enjoy boating, fishing and swimming at your favorite park or forest.

Is there any better way to celebrate summer than getting out on the water and cooling off on a hot day? Here’s your guide to having a cool summer day at a West Virginia State Park!

Big Fun at Big Lakes

Among West Virginia’s largest bodies of water, Stonewall Jackson Lake, Bluestone Lake and Tygart Lake offer enough acreage for you to spend the whole day on the water. Pack a picnic lunch and some fishing gear and you’re all set! (You can purchase a fishing license online at

Stonewall Resort State Park offers multiple options for fun on Stonewall Jackson Lake. Guests are invited aboard the 70-foot long Little Sorrel excursion boat for a complimentary evening cruise of the lake’s coves and bays. If you have a need for speed, head down to the marina and rent a CraigCat. These two-person catamarans zip along the water like jet skis but offer more stability. Other rental options include pontoon boats, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, paddle boats, and the delightfully quirky Aqua Cycle Water Trikes.

The tranquil waters of Tygart Lake have been drawing visitors to Tygart Lake State Park for decades. “Of all the lakes I’ve visited, none has had bluer water nor more beautiful scenery than Tygart Lake,” says TripAdvisor reviewer Holly Caroline. “I grew up frequenting this lake and it is wonderful for boating, skiing, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking or even just swimming from the bank.” Boats are available for rent from the marina, and the beach and swimming area is open seasonally.

Formed by a dam on the Bluestone and New rivers, the 2,040-acre reservoir at Bluestone Lake State Park echoes the wild and scenic beauty of its tributaries. Bluestone Lake is a hunting and nesting area for bald eagles and its waters are rife with bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill. Fishing boats, pontoon boats, kayaks and canoes are available for rent at Bluestone marina.

Family Fishing and Boating

Just a short drive from downtown Huntington, Beech Fork State Park offers an enticing escape for the family that loves to camp and fish. “I took my family kayaking at beech fork. This is a pretty nice place with everything from swimming, boating, fishing, to even playing basketball,” says TripAdvisor reviewer Dacota44. “We always enjoy feeding the carp when possible. This park is very quiet and friendly.” The lake has more than 31 acres of shoreline where you can cast a line. Canoes, kayaks, jon boats, paddle boats and stand-up paddle boards are available to rent at the park’s boat dock, open seasonally.

Come to Little Beaver State Park and you’ll see why it was voted one of the nation’s Top 10 Mom-Approved Places to Fish and Boat. The 18-acre Little Beaver Lake offers year-round fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and channel catfish. Stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, and row boats are available for rent seasonally. And, if you’re feeling competitive, plan to attend the park’s Annual Fishing Derby on June 8, 2019.

Learn as You Go

If you’ve never canoed or kayak before, North Bend State Park is a great place to start. The park’s Quest program offers more than 40 customized outdoor adventures that include one-on-one instruction. “The park staff were so helpful and friendly and they worked with us to make our Quest enjoyable,” says TripAdvisor reviewer MK W. “Steve Jones, the park superintendent, was our kayaking instructor and we had a lot of fun and learned about kayaking and how to use the equipment properly. We enjoyed kayaking so much we went out on the lake again the next day.” The park’s 305-acre lake is ideal for fishing and boating. Boat rentals are available at North Bend Outfitters and include canoes, kayaks, jon boats and pontoons.

Coming Soon!

Surrounded by Long Branch Lake, the Bluestone River and the New River, Pipestem Resort State Park is a boater’s paradise. Rowboat, paddleboat, paddleboard, kayak, and canoe rentals are available at the marina, but that’s not all: Big changes are coming this summer! Pipestem has partnered with ACE Adventure Resort to open a splash park, lake adventures, guided fishing trips, and even tubing and whitewater rafting on the Bluestone River.

Visit West Virginia State Parks online to learn more about water activities at state parks and forests. Start planning your summer vacation today!

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