This Week’s Stop: Summersville Lake Camping in West Virginia
After leaving Brewery 33, I knew I eventually wanted to end up at my friend John’s estate in Virginia. But since I had to pass through West Virginia to get there, I looked for a good campsite at which to put my National Park Pass to good use.
I will fully admit my decision was largely based on how good the Verizon signal was reported to be. West Virginia had lots of amazing-looking campsites that would have qualified for the parks pass, however, most of them had little to no cell/internet coverage. As I needed to work along with recreate, that wouldn’t do.
But I found an incredible place that also had connectivity at the Battle Run Campground at Summersville Lake.
To borrow a phrase from John Denver, Summersville Lake camping was “almost heaven” in West Virginia.
An unintended tour of West Virginia hollers
That was when I finally got there and set up camp on the shores of Summersville Lake. Getting to said lake, however, was more than a little stressful, although, hopefully, it won’t be for you.
I am not sure if I missed a turn or my GPS had it wrong, but the road I was on kept getting narrower and windier as I progressed towards Battle Run Campground at Summersville Lake. Or allegedly towards there, anyway.
The drive was gorgeous albeit slow, traversing up and down forested mountains into tiny backwoods “hollers.”
But slow as it was, it had been going on far too long. Then I lost the signal.
There was nowhere to turn and no choice but to keep going.
The road finally dead-ended WAY far out in the woods. A gentleman immediately emerged from his double-wide saying, “I sure hope you’re lost!”
I admitted this was indeed the case.
Luckily the natives were friendly. He allowed me to turn around on his huge front lawn and pointed me back the other way with directions on how to actually get to Summersville Lake.
Summersville Lake camping and RVing
This is the second Army Corps of Engineers campground I have visited on this trip (the other being Wilson Lake in Kansas). Both were OUTSTANDING in the way they are managed and in the value they provide for the price.
With my National Parks Pass it was only about $15 a night for lakeside camping with electrical hookups. (Water and a dump station is available just not at the campsite.) Even at double the price without a pass, it’s still a bargain for a campsite of this quality.
There are lakeside campsites with full hookups, partial hookups, or tent sites at Summersville Lake. The campsites are a little close, but not as ridiculous as some campgrounds I have visited.
Being the height of summer, the campground was fairly crowded, but definitely not sold out.
One downside to Summersville Lake camping, however, is that no dogs are allowed. At least not at this federal campground. There are also state campgrounds on the lake that might have different rules.
This would have put Battle Run Campground out of the running for me earlier in the season. However, since my beloved Budley is now happily living his best life in Missouri, it wasn’t an issue.
Summersville Dam: What’s in a name?
A fun side note: Summersville Lake is part of the Summersville Dam complex. Usually the Army Corps of Engineers names the dams they build after the nearest town. In the case of the Summersville Dam, however, the nearest town was NOT Summersville, West Virginia. It was the town of Gad. The powers that be did not want to name it the Gad Dam.
West Virginia’s largest lake, Summersville Lake covers more than 2,800 acres of water bordered by 60 miles of shoreline.
The lake supports all manner of boating including fishing boats, power boats, sailboats, pontoon boats, jet skis, paddle boards, and kayaks. Beyond that, there is swimming and even scuba diving.
There are also some terrific hiking trails emanating from the campground, including one along the Gad Dam Dike (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Seriously, though, easy access to great hiking right outside the door does motivate me to get off my butt more. Something I definitely need.
It did rain off and on for a few days, which only made the area greener and lusher. There was still plenty of time between the showers to get outside and enjoy the spectacular surroundings.
Fishing at Summersville Lake
There were lots of families camping nearby. If you had a waterfront spot and brought your boat, you could even moor it right there next to the campsite.
My campsite had easy lake access that those along the center row did not, so I welcomed my nearby neighbors to use the space.
The kids were absolutely delightful, and it was fun watching them have fun playing in the lake.
One cute little boy, about 10, and I especially bonded. He would give me updates several times a day on his fishing exploits. He was so cute!
Sadly, he never did catch a fish while I was there, but not for lack of trying.
I suspect there were better fishing spots in the HUGE lake other than our semi-busy little inlet where lots of boats launched and traveled. Hopefully, he got one after I left.
He knew all about the area and what he could potentially catch, though. His information was confirmed in talking to other anglers on my walks around the shoreline who had better luck.
What were they catching?
Large and smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, and catfish. In spring and fall, trout are stocked below the dam.
What else is there to do at Summersville Lake?
In addition to the water sports, hiking, and fishing that I already mentioned, visitors also enjoy:
- Technical rock climbing
- White water rafting is available year-round, but look for scheduled whitewater releases below the dam on the world-class Gauley River in September and October.
Summersville Lake practicalities
- Make reservations at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Battle Run Campground.
- Check out more tourism and RV and camping opportunities in and around Summersville, WV.
Next Week: Camping on a Civil War Battleground, visiting Madison’s Montpelier and Jefferson’s Monticello
Previously in Cheri’s long, long RV trip:
- Week 11: Ohio Turnpike Camping, Airstreams, Caverns, and Beer
- Week 10: Circus World, Wisconsin Dells, Gearing up to Go Again
- Week 9: Circus Graveyard; Taste of Chicago Festival
- Week 8: Iconic Chicago foods (get ready to drool); RV electrical issues
- Week 7: Moochdocking in the Chicago burbs; Re-evaluating this trip
- Week 6: An EXPLOSIVE tire blowout and an emotional goodbye
- Week 5: RVing in Kansas, and an amazing campground
- Week 4: Having fun on more Colorado explorations
- Week 3: RVing during Colorado’s surprise snow, and a castle!
- Week 2: Friday the 13th, road trip woes set in
- Week 1: RVing sites and attractions in Las Vegas and beyond