Aug. 6—CAMP CREEK — West Virginia state parks have become a destination for many families, both from in and out of state, in recent years.
Camp Creek State Park is one of many popular parks that people seem to love to go and experience.
"It's a 500 acre state park accompanied with 5,600 acre state forest, and the park itself is a camping park," explained Camp Creek State Park superintendent Monty Ball.
He said the park offers three types of camping including electric and water hook-up camping, primitive camping, and equestrian camping where people can bring their horses and be able to stay with them in the park along with several other attractions.
It seems to have seen a rise in visitors as well.
"It has become a very, very popular destination among in-state and out-of-state visitors," said Ball.
"I think word got out of what West Virginia has to offer," he said. "Governor Justice and the West Virginia tourism department has been promoting the parks, and it seems to have worked. It has become a very, very popular destination among in-state and out-of-state visitors,"
Like many of the other parks, it has several different things to do and see, and according to Ball and Mercer County Conventions and Visitor's Bureau Executive Director Jamie Null, nature is what really draws people to the parks, especially the wild flowers and waterfalls that can be found.
"The waterfalls are great attractions because of the walkability. They are accessible for visitors of all ages and experience," said Null. "No matter if they are a beginner hiker or experienced, it is only a short walk. Strollers are welcome for young ones too. The wildflowers are an added benefit. The pops of color throughout the park just add to the beauty of the area."
Ball added, "They are the shear beauty of what nature has to offer. They have the natural way of expressing beauty through the park itself, through nature."
Not only have people from every corner of the country, but many West Virginia state residents tend to visit the parks continuously throughout their lives once they discover them.
Shady Spring residents David and Stephanie Williams said they have been going to Camp Creek State Park since 1994, and they love to visit all the different state parks West Virginia has to offer.
"This is our 30th wedding anniversary and his 50th birthday, so instead of taking a big trip or something, this (Camp Creek State Park) is where we wanted to be," said Stephanie.
Not only do they come for occasions like this, but the couple also said they visit Camp Creek around two or three times a year to camp and several more times to fish and hike.
Stephanie said, "I just love everything about it here."
While her husband added, "I love the beauty of it and the accessibility."
The couple's love of Camp Creek is not secluded to the state parks but to the whole state of West Virginia.
"We have kids moving south, but we want to be here," said David. "I just retired, but we want to stay here because we love our state parks, and we love West Virginia."
The Williams' are not the only people who feel this way, the Hatfield family from Beckley also expressed their love for the waterfalls and the fishing they offer.
Rick Hatfield said, "We've been coming here for 10 plus years because we all love it. Our kids love to crawdad fish up here."
The beauty is not the only thing that seems to attract people either, but Null and Ball also say the cost is a huge plus that the state parks have to offer especially for people who are choosing vacation at the parks rather than going to a beach or another vacation destination.
"It gives families the ability to budget for vacations. By bringing their own food and supplies, they can budget appropriately," said Null. "It is also important to note that state parks have free entrance. While it does cost to tent or RV camp, it is always free to hike and enjoy nature."
Ball said, "I think residents are really visiting because of high gas prices, the cost we offer for available recreation within the parks."
While the waterfalls and wildflowers are what Ball and Null feel keep people repeat visiting, they both feel that the calmness and quietness are really what people love the most about the parks.
"I believe there is a quietness and stillness found in the mountains and in state parks. One can explore and learn at state parks, and appreciate the beauty of the forest," Null explained. "For me personally, I want to teach my children about the outdoors. I want them to grow up appreciating state parks, trails and more."
Ball describes the quietness and the solitude as the "best part" of Camp Creek State Park.
"You can actually breathe, relax, and people often need that when they visit," he said.
Camp Creek State Park is located at 2390 County Highway 19/5 in Camp Creek, West Virginia, and the hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information about West Virginia state parks, visit wvtourism.com.