ReCreate those summer memories

ReCreate Memories – Thurmond – New River Gorge National River Photo: Matt Sanchez

Remember lazy childhood vacations? Maybe your family spent a day at the lake, cooler in tow. Or perhaps you rented a cabin and ate nothing but s’mores and hot dogs.

This summer, why not recreate those memories? Join us as we celebrate Southern West Virginia’s parks — places where you can camp, explore, swim, and feel like a kid again.

Where to ReCreate

Take your pick: whitewater rapids, lazy lakes, meditative scenery … Southern West Virginia has a place for every memory.

Here’s a sampler:


Was your family up for anything? If so, you probably returned to school with lots of thrilling material for a vacation report.

On the other hand, maybe you missed out. You can still have the supercharged vacation of your dreams! It’s never too late.

Jazz up your summer with parks like:

  • New River Gorge National River. A famous whitewater destination with 2 distinct sections: the mild “Upper” and untamed “Lower.” It’s a blast, whichever you choose.
  • Gauley River National Recreation Area. One of the world’s top whitewater rafting attractions. Expect enormous waves, towering boulders, and non-stop action.


Perhaps your childhood vacations focused on exploration. Back then, woods seemed enchanted and filled with magical creatures. While you won’t find any unicorns in Southern West Virginia, these parks should touch your imagination.

  • Babcock State Park. A recreated grist mill, set against a lively creek and large boulders, looks like something from a fairytale. Rent a cabin for repeat visits!
  • Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory. Migrating eagles, falcons, and hawks soar at eye level, right by this rustic platform. Majestic mountains form the backdrop.
  • Grandview. One of the most photographed locations in Southern West Virginia! From the main outlook, you can see the New River, mountains, and pink rhododendrons.
  • Pipestem Resort State Park. Hop aboard an aerial tramway and ride down into the Bluestone River Gorge, where there’s a lodge and restaurant.

A day at the lake

Some vacations are sweet, short, and spontaneous. Head to these parks for simple picnic lunches by the water:

  • Lake Stephens. An old-fashioned setting with a beach, water park, cabins, and miles of forest trails.
  • Moncove Lake State Park. For something quieter and closer to nature, this serene destination fits the bill. The lake’s enormous surface reflects acres of clouds and trees.
  • Summersville Lake. Turquoise water and sandstone cliffs make this reservoir a sight to behold. Known as the “Little Bahamas of the East,” it’s popular for diving and boating.

Southern West Virginia’s 12 state parks and forests are ready for summer. Pick one, pack up, and play!

Park freebies

Now that summer is here, go ahead — recreate those cherished memories. To help you get started, we’re giving away postcards. Images of our favorite parks are printed on heavy paper with vintage styling and texture. Everybody who requests a travel guide can pick one and create a personalized message for a friend, too.

Happy summer!

Any favorite memories of vacationing in Southern West Virginia?