UPDATE(4/29/19 3:36 p.m.)

Following the announcement of a new online booking system for campgrounds in West Virginia’s state parks and forests, officials have seen an instant impact.

“In the first three days, more than 4,500 guest nights have been booked through the site,” said Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “We have received reservations from 26 states including California, Wyoming and Washington and outside the U.S. from Ontario, Canada,” Ruby said.

ORIGINAL STORY(4/26/19 6:36 p.m.)

Gov. Jim Justice announced plans Friday for $3.5 million in upgrades to campgrounds at 16 West Virginia State Parks & Forests.  Justice also announced an improved online campsite reservation system, during a ceremony at Audra State Park, in Barbour County.

“Our state parks and forests are a cornerstone of West Virginia’s tourism industry and improving the way people plan their trip is going to make visiting Almost Heaven that much more of a memorable experience,” Gov. Justice said.

The campground upgrade projects will range from bathhouse to electrical improvements at: Audra, Babcock, Beech Fork, Blackwater Falls, Bluestone, Cabwaylingo, Camp Creek, Cedar Creek, Chief Logan, Coopers Rock, Holly River, Kanawha, Moncove Lake, Twin Falls, Tygart, and Watoga.

With the new reservation system, campers will be able to reserve sites online before their trips and be assured they will be available when they arrive at the park or forest.  State Park officials have used mail-in reservation system.  It will be phased out after the 2019 season, but existing mail-in reservations will be honored, officials said.  Phone reservations will still be taken, as well as walk-in reservations, based on availability.

Along with campsites, picnic shelters can also be reserved through the new system.  Reservations can be made one year in advance, beginning on the first day of the month for that month.

“Camping is one of the most popular activities at state parks and forests, so making all campsites reservable on the parks website simplifies the reservation process for our guests,” said Sam England, chief of the West Virginia State Parks system. 

“What we really hope to see from bringing all these sites online is more folks learning about our beautiful campgrounds and planning trips here,” Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby said. “Allowing potential visitors to see availability online will make us much more accessible to a whole new set of campers,” Ruby said.

West Virginia’s state parks and forests are visited by more than 7 million people each year, according to tourism officials.