State Park of the Week: Watoga

Back to nature basics make this park a favorite family vacation destination.

You’ll know it when you get here: Watoga State Park is one of those places you can visit any time of the year and never have to worry about finding something fun to do. With more than 10,000 forested acres for you and your family to explore, you won’t have any trouble leaving your cares behind and letting your imagination run wild at Watoga.

If getting lost in nature sounds like the perfect vacation to you, then you need to visit Watoga. Here’s everything you need to know to plan a perfect trip.

Get in touch with nature by exploring 40 miles of trails and 10,000 acres of forested paradise

Located in the rugged mountains of Pocahontas County, Watoga is West Virginia’s largest state park and has everything you need for a real outdoor adventure. Watoga Lake is known for its excellent fishing opportunities and is part of the Division of Natural Resources’ stocking program. There’s also camping, some of the best fishing in the Greenbrier River Valley, boating, swimming and enough hiking trails to keep you busy all year.

With so many options, you and your family have the luxury of enjoying something different each day of your visit at Watoga. If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry about making time for everything. Because at Watoga, even the peace and quiet is an experience you’ll want to remember.

“We are from PA and hiked many trails along the Appalachian Mountains. When hiking those, I can still hear Interstate 81 no matter how long I hike. At Watoga I only heard nature…How amazing!”

— VacationSmith, TripAdvisor Reviewer from Enola, PA

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out the Arrowhead Trail by the Riverside Campground, and hike up to the Ann Bailey Lookout Tower where you can take in the spectacular views of the Greenbrier River Valley and take solace in the silence.

Pro Tip: For even more mountain adventure, visit one of the several nearby state parks and forests. Hunt or fish at Calvin Price State Forest, explore ancient rock formations at Beartown State Park or hike the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail.

History preserved in every trail, cabin and campsite

Watoga’s name comes from the Cherokee word for “starry waters.” The park also was a state forest at one time, having served as a wildlife and timber preserve. But did you know it’s also one of the oldest state parks in West Virginia? Watoga officially opened as a state park on July 1, 1937 and has been a haven for nature lovers and family vacationers ever since.

Over the years, the park saw extensive development for recreational use with the addition of trails, cabins, an 11-acre lake and the state parks system’s first campground. In 1962, the park introduced a naturalist program and is one of a handful of stateparks to have a full-time, year-round naturalist today. As tourism grew in the 1960s, the park became one of the most popular vacation spots in West Virginia, a designation Watoga maintains to this day.

Extend your family vacation by staying in a cozy cabin or rustic campground

The good thing about staying in one of Watoga’s cabins is that you still have some of the comforts of home during your trip without all of the distractions of living in a connected world. Here, you can put down the phone and spend some quality time with your family. More importantly, your kids can just be kids!

Watoga’s 10 modern cabins are open year-round, and its 24 standard cabins are available the last weekend in April through October. As you walk out your cabin in the morning, make sure you listen closely because there’s a good chance you can hear the soothing sounds of a babbling brook nearby. Watoga also has two campgrounds where you can enjoy a good-old-fashioned camping trip, cozy campfires with your family and delicious s’mores!

“Incredibly rustic and a super way to disconnect from the rest of the world! Back to basics! I would highly recommend!”

— 131heather, TripAdvisor Reviewer from Hagerstown

Big and small, high and low, West Virginia State Parks are home to your fondest memories and experiences yet to come. Visit Watoga and you’ll find a new reason to love Almost Heaven. Plan your trip today!

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