Campgrounds offer visitors summer fun, relaxation
HUNTINGTON -- Memorial Day weekend is here and that means camping season is upon us.
Unfortunately, sorry to report that the mosquitos got that text too. But bugs be Off'd, tents be packed and fifth wheels be jacked, cause we are headed out to get our camp on.
Lucky for us, we're surrounded by three great states full of cool camping sites and "S'more" stuff to do than just sit around the campfire and roasting delicious peanut butter-smothered marshmallows stuffed between chocolate bars and graham crackers.
OK, before I fire one of those up right here in the office, here's a look at a baker's dozen places to get your camp on and your outdoors fun on with family and friends.
Fish on, boat in, camp out
Only about 35 to 40 minutes from Huntington, Yatesville Lake is a quick getaway. Tucked over in the hills of Lawrence County, Ky., outside of Louisa, Yatesville Lake's campground is unique in that it is one of the few places where there is boat-in camping. The campground has 27 sites with utilities, but 20 primitive sites with 16 of those boat-in and four hike-in sites. The "boat-in" sites are maintained by a service road but only your boat can get you to your site.
Call the State Park at 606-673-1490 for more info or go on the website at www.parks.ky.gov and click onto Yatesville Lake to find out more about the Lake and cool stuff to do there, including the national award-winning Eagle Ridge Golf Course.
Next weekend wouldn't be a bad time to roll over since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have its 5th Annual Kids Fishing Day at Yatesville Lake State Park Marina from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 1. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. There will be prizes, and any kids 16 and under can participate. Call the Corps office at 606-686-2412 or go online at www.lrh.usace.army.mil.
Light up the rails
Just east of Parkersburg, North Bend State Park is cool because it is right off of the 72-mile long and tunnel-filled North Bend Rail Trail.
You can head over next weekend when on Friday, May 31, the North Bend Rail Trail Foundation is putting on a two-hour-long Luminary Hike that begins at 8:30 p.m. The trail will be lit by luminaries along the hike to Tunnel 13 where folks will spin ghost stories in the tunnel. The Luminary Hike meets at Shelter 3. There's a ton of stuff on June 1 as well including kayak demos, a herp walk, Cairo Bank Building tours and much more.
Go online at www.northbendsp.com for more info about their camping at River Run and Cokeley Campgrounds.
Served with volume
Tucked into the beautiful hills of Greenup County, Greenbo Lake's campground (58 sites with utility hook ups and 36 primitive sites) was voted one of the top 100 campgrounds in the nation in Reserve America's Top 100 awards for campground and outdoor recreation parks a couple years ago.
Even more improvements make it a great place to take the family and enjoy mini-golf, canoeing or pontoon boating and more.
Come July 13, you can rock out at the amphitheater as Greenbo, in conjunction with the University of Kentucky Extension Fine Arts Program in Greenup County, is presenting a "Battle of the Bands" July 13, at the park amphitheater, hosted by the local band "Mad Dog Mean." The entry fee is $25 per group. The winner gets $500. Bands can register at the Greenup Extension Office, 35 Wurtland Ave., in Wurtland, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Deadline for registration is July 5.
Only 20 bands will be accepted. Bands will play two songs at the show which starts at 6 p.m. Admission is $5.
Valley Up For a Good Brew
Canaan Valley is a magnet for craft brew lovers as the Valley is home to Mountain State Brewery and the Blackwater Falls Brewing Company. It is also home to the Canaan Valley Resort campground voted among the "50 Great Places to Stay for a Dream Weekend" in Washingtonian Magazine.
You can enjoy both come August. Beat the heat and roll over and up to the highest valley east of the Mississippi as Canaan Valley State Park and Mountain State Brewery put on the Brew Skies Festival that runs Aug. 9-10, at the park. The family-friendly celebration features such acts as Roddy Walston and the Business, Grayson Capps, The Pimps of Joytime, The Boatmen, The Wild Rumpus and many more.
The Resort campgrounds include 34 paved, wooded sites with full hookups. Call 800-622-4121 for further information.
For more info about the Festival, which also has local artisan craft and food vendors and a kids area, go online at http://brewskiesfestival.com/.
Splattered With Paint
Established back in 1981, ACE (American-Canadian Expeditions) has room for a little bit of everything in the inn at the 1,500-acre Oak Hill, W.Va.-based resort that was designated the largest adventure resort in North America by The Travel Channel in 2010, based on the number of guests it accommodates, the number of adventures it provides, and the size of its facility.
New for 2013 at ACE are paintball fields utilizing more than 2,000 railroad ties as bunkers and field structures up at the Mountain Top Campground on the upland area of the 1,500-acre adventure resort. A new disc-golf course was recently completed as well.
For more information, call 1-800-787-3982 or visit aceraft.com.
Horsin' Around Kentucky Style
Kentucky's Bluegrass region is known around the world for its horses, but you don't have to roll that far to saddle up and ride.
Located just 45 minutes west of Huntington, Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill, Ky., is one of the closest places where you enjoy guided horseback rides without having to have your own horse. Rides run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily in summer and cost $18. Rides are 3 1/2 miles and lasts about 45 minutes. Pony rides available for children. Rides are daily Memorial Day through Labor Day and weekends only in September-October.
For folks with their own horses there are eight pull-through campsites specifically designed for horse owners featuring electric, water and sewer hook-ups. And riders can enjoy 15 miles of multi-use trails and several miles of back country roads, accessible from the horse camp, through both Carter Caves State Park and Tygart State Forest.
Go online at www.parks.ky.gov and click onto Carter Caves. Also call 606-286-4411.
Preying For A Good Time
Beech Fork State Park is West Virginia's largest state park campground with 275 campground sites that can swell the park's population to more than 1,000 people on any given summer weekend.
For that population, there are tons of activities from the pool, trails and lake, to tons of naturalist programs as well.
On Saturday, June 15 the park, located just south of Huntington, will host the summer program series, "Wings of Wonder - Birds of Prey," a presentation of live birds by Three Rivers Avian Center (TRAC) is an up-close look at live hawks, owls and eagles.
That free program will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Beech Fork. Looking for other WV state parks to see raptors? Bald and golden eagles sightings have happened at Pipestem, Bluestone, Tygart Lake, Hawks Nest and Cacapon state parks. For more events, activities and about accommodations and camping at West Virginia State Parks, visit www.wvstateparks.com.
Get Your Dive On
Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, located at KY 1, about 18 miles north of Interstate 64 from the Grayson exit, will become the first Kentucky state park to offer SCUBA diving.
They are having a soft opening of sorts for the dive area one Saturday, June 22 as the Friends of Greenbo Lake are hosting a cleanup. Any certified divers in the area are invited to come out and dive to help remove any underwater debris and trash from the public dive area, which will be about 10 acres of Greenbo's 225-acre lake. There will be a free grilled lunch provided by The Friends. Call the park at 1-800-325-0083 for more info about the diving area that'll be officially opened in July.
Cost then will be a $15 admission fee to dive. Planners of the dive area are going to install an underwater geocache as well in the diving area.
Camping -- With or Without Clothes
It's getting hot out there, and you can lighten your suitcase the old-fashioned way by packing your birthday suit and heading over to Paw Paw, W.Va.'s famous Avalon Resort, a clothing-optional resort.
There are plenty of campsites with full hook-ups as well as primitive camping in addition to lodge rooms, condos and cabins.
A good time to go is the 13th annual motorcycle show set for June 8 when you check out the shiny bikes, great barbecue, soulful live Blues music, and some dancing in the bare barn. The event admission is $20 with $5 of that going to the Wounded Warrior Project.
To find out more about Avalon visit www.avalon-resort.com.
At Cass In a Caboose
Cass Railroad celebrates the 50th anniversary of its rugged iron horse, the Shay No. 4 on June 15, and you can catch a ride on one of America's most rugged tourist trains this summer as daily trips roll through Oct. 27.
Except for major Monday holidays, trips are not scheduled on Mondays and for 10 days mid-week in early September. Train fares are $18 weekday and $21 weekends for adults to Whittaker Station; $13 and $16 for youth fare in the summer.
OK, it's not camping per se, but Cass does have some awesome accommodation options from company stores to riding the train up to a unique overnight on Cheat Mountain in a caboose.
For ticket information and advance ticket sales, call Cass Scenic Railroad at 304-456-4300 or visit www.cassrailroad.com.
Camping and Blasting Clays
Canaan Valley Resort State Park just opened a new sporting clays five stand clay target field located in the Canaan Valley Tube Park area. The location creates a multi-use complex that can be enjoyed seasonally for two different recreational uses. The area is also adjacent to the Canaan Valley Resort Ski area.
Shooters fire five rounds from a shotgun from each shooting position for a total 25 shots in an individual round. The trap can be set for an easy repetitive bird flight path for beginning shooters, or on automatic/wobble for more advanced shooters. The launcher fires birds (clay discs) in a variety of angles and heights. The trap resets itself automatically after each shot so the shooter is never sure which flight path the bird will take. Go online at www.canaanresort.com.
Searching For A Moonbow
Head southwest over to Corbin, Ky., where Cumberland Falls State Park is one of the only places in the Western Hemisphere to see a moonbow.
There's good camping at the park, whose main attraction is the 125-foot-wide Niagara of the South, a 68-foot-tall falls that creates a moonbow (a night-time rainbow) when conditions are right.
Optimum viewing days this summer are the days around the full moon so May 23-27, June 21-25, July 20-24 and Aug. 19-23.
Next weekend, on June 1, the park hosts a National Trails Day event six-mile hike to Dog Slaughter Falls -- a unique waterfall with an unusual name. Meet in the great room of the Dupont Lodge at 10 a.m. Bring lunch, water and a camera. Call 1-800-325-0063.
With Some Bicycle and Cat Power
Music festival season is here and you can camp next weekend (May 30-June 2) up on campus at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, with a few thousand of your closest friends at the Nelsonville Music Festival. It features more than 50 bands including Wilco, Cat Power, John Prine, Gogol Bordello, Mavis Staples, and more. Weekend passes are $110 now and will be $130 at the gate.
Take your bicycle if you wish, as there's a 17-mile-long Hockhocking Adena Bikeway nearby that connects Nelsonville with Athens along the old Columbus and Hocking Valley railroad bed.
Tickets and more information can be found by calling 740-753-1924 or going online at www.nelsonvillefest.org.
Through the Golden Arches
There's nothing like a sunset coming down through the natural arches of the Red River Gorge.
Head south and west to this rock-tastic area of Kentucky that is home to the most arches east of the Rockies.
Next weekend, Natural Bridge State Resort Park, in Slade. Ky., will have its third hike as part of its Trail Trek Series on June 1 -- National Trails Day.
This hike will be a 4-mile trek on the Rock Garden trail and the Battleship Rock Trail. Meet at the Hemlock Lodge lobby at 9 a.m. The fee is $5. Minimum age is 10 and ages 10-17 must be accompanied by an adult. Call 1-800-325-1710
There's plenty of good camping at the state park, but also lots of other primitive camping nearby at Red River Campground and Koomer Ridge (run by the U.S. Forest Service). Koomer Ridge also has a full slate of campground programs as well that range from learning Dutchoven cooking to tributes to famed late Kentucky musician Lily May Ledford by local folksinger Anne MacFie. You can hear her presentation June 8 and Aug. 24.
Go online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/dbnf/ to read more about Koomer Ridge and other camping options in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky.