When you think of the states with the best state parks in the country, West Virginia probably isn't the first to pop into your mind, but North Bend State Park could change all of that. The park stretches for over 2,000 acres along the North Fork of the Hughes River in Cairo, West Virginia. The park was originally established in 1951 and has only gotten better with time, now offering enough year-round recreational activities to keep you busy for days. Popular activities for visitors range from everything including fishing, hiking, biking, boating, and playing basketball and volleyball. You will love spending time in the great outdoors going horseback riding, swimming, geocaching, and wildlife viewing. After all that you'll still have time for buying souvenirs and dining at the on-site restaurant.
The park features dozens of campsites stretched over two campgrounds, both electric and non-electric, so it's practically everyone's cup of tea. Don't be mistaken, there is an abundance of flora and fauna in this massive park, but the area is also rich in cultural history. North Bend State Park is located in West Virginia’s historic oil and gas fields and still contains several wells that were used all the way back in the 1800s, so walking through the park is like walking through centuries of history.
RV Rentals in North Bend State Park
Transportation in North Bend State Park
The park is only a few miles off of US-50 E, although there are several other ways to easily access the park as well. To find the best route, plan ahead of time and use a GPS enabled device when possible, it should take you right up to the park entrance. Once you enter the park, all of the roads meant for driving, including the ones in the campgrounds, are paved and in fair condition, although winding. Some roads are also narrower than others and there are a few tight turns here and there, so be careful if you are driving an RV or towing a trailer.
Depending on what campground you stay at, you may be a far walk from many recreational activities, so many visitors choose to tow an extra car or bring bikes to make getting around the park easier. If you have young kids with you, bringing a car that can easily navigate winding roads would be very helpful. But if you are vacationing solo or with your spouse and don't plan on going out of the park a lot during your stay, you could get around the park on bike or scooter with a little extra effort. There park is rather spacious so there are parking lots dotted all over. Although, it is easiest to park your rig at the campground if you are staying overnight.
Campgrounds and parking in North Bend State Park
Campsites in North Bend State Park
River Run Campground
River Run Campground is made up of 49 campsites, 26 of which have electric hookups. Although there are no water hookups, water supplies are offered at various places throughout the campground and there is also a bathhouse within the campground. The campground is right next to the river, which many visitors find very serene while falling asleep at night, and has a little pond within the campground boundaries. Several nature trails can be accessed directly from the campgrounds, and various amenities are all within a short walk from the campsites, including the picnic area, pool, playground, and dump station. The sites are a little close together, but still surprisingly peaceful and level. Besides, you'll be spending most of your time exploring the park, not huddled up in your RV. 16 of the electric sites are available for reservations, so if you want to ensure your spot it is recommended to make a reservation before arriving.
Cokeley Campground is a bit smaller than River Run Campground, with only 28 sites. The sites are pretty well spaced out and they all have electricity and water hookups. However, it's a bit further from a lot of the trails and recreational activities. The campground features a centrally located bathhouse and the sites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 25 feet in length. A huge plus of this campground is that it is in close proximity to the fishing pier and boat launch, making it a favorite spot of fishing and boating enthusiasts. The sites are available for reservations from Memorial Day through Labor day, which are typically the park's peak months, so if you want to go during this time make sure you make your reservation..
River Run Campground
10 of the electric sites and all of the non-electric sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you may still be able to get a site without a reservation. Reservations can only be made for sites from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and then after Labor Day all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis until the campground closes for the season. In this case, River Run Campground is open through Thanksgiving.
After Labor Day, the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis until October 31st, when the campground closes for the season. But they usually stay pretty busy on weekends, so your best bet of getting a site without a reservation would be to go during the week. During the rest of the year when the campground is open, it is even harder to get a site without a previous reservation.
Seasonal activities in North Bend State Park
Enjoying the North Bend Quest
The North Bend Quest is the ultimate way to experience North Bend State Park, but it'll cost you a little extra money. Still, the quest allows you to build you own adventure and experience the park exactly how you want. You can choose from a ton of fun activities including rock climbing, kayaking, yoga, guided nature walks, and backpacking, and it is all catered to your wants and needs. The quest includes a guide to help you along your journey and is many visitors' favorite way to experience the park.
Attending Nature Programs
During the spring and summer months, various interpretive nature programs are available on a daily basis. The programs can be a fun way for visitors of all ages to learn about the history of the park and the wildlife that lives in it. The programs teach various skills including plant and animal identification and useful survival skills. If you feel like you've run out of things to do, you're not sure what to do next, or you're just eager to learn, these programs are perfect for you. This is a great way to learn about the great outdoors during your RV adventure to West Virginia.
After purchasing your West Virginia fishing license, you can head out to the fishing pier, where there is plenty of room for anglers of all ages and skill levels to test your luck. Common catches at North Bend State Park include crappie, musky, catfish, and bass. Big catches are not uncommon at North Bend State Park, making it the perfect place to try to break your personal record, just don't get distracted by all of the beautiful scenery around you.
Looking for a modern day treasure hunt? Geocaching can be a great way to spend a day as a family. Three separate caches are hidden throughout the park just waiting to be found, and even more are hidden on the nearby Rail Trail. You can get more info about where to find the caches by checking the geocaching website. Whether you are just looking for a good adventure or a way to entertain the kids, geocaching can be enjoyed by anyone, year round.
Biking & Hiking
Dozens of miles of trails are available at North Bend State Park, most of which are suitable for both hiking and biking. Some of the trails are a little trickier than others, which can be exciting for avid bikers or hikers looking for a challenge, but no so good for families with small children. However, there are plenty of trails with easier, more level terrain where families can enjoy leisurely strolls while soaking up the nature. A good family-friendly trail is the interpretive Extra Mile Trail or the Giant Tree Hill. Whereas mountain bikers will love the three-mile Ten Acre Trail.
Although most of the trails are not suitable for horseback riding, the longest, and arguably the most peaceful, North Bend Trail is perfect for horseback riding. The massive trail stretches for 72 miles along the West Virginia countryside and there's no better way to explore it than on horseback. Experienced riders may choose to explore the trail on their own, but guides are also available to help you along your journey. If you're hauling your horse trailer to the state park this is the place for you!