With its curvy stretches of scenic lakes and rivers, fun-filled family adventure opportunities, and infinite navigable streams, boating enthusiasts can take their pick of limitless options when it comes to planning their time on West Virginia’s waters. Brace yourselves boaters, your next waterway adventure is just around the river bend.
BEST BOATING LAKES
Up for some scuba diving? How about swimming, boating and camping? Experience them all at Summersville Lake. Boasting camp ground sites, a dive shop, marina’s and some sweet spots for cliff jumping, experiencing Summersville Lake should be at the top of your boating bucket list.
Located just 15 minutes from Morganstown WV, Cheat Lake is a hotspot for boaters. With a newly built beach and scenic views, this curvy stretch of lake is the perfect spot to soak up the sun and enjoy a day on the water. Need to gas up the boat? Check out the Sunset Beach Marina on the east side of the lake for all your boating needs.
In search of some adventure-packed family time? Ace Lake Adventure Resort has been providing an epic outdoor escape to families for over 35 years. These folks know what they’re doing: outdoor activities, guided rafting tours, lodging and camping areas – the works.
Sitting on the Gauley River, Summerville Lake is the largest lake in West Virginia. The 1,100 hectare lake boasts a 97 kilometre shoreline, with the Summersville Lake State Wildlife Area sitting along the north end of it. Summersville Lake holds more than 28,000 acres of water and has 60 miles of shoreline making it the largest lake in West Virginia. The superb water quality makes it perfect for swimming, fishing and watercraft use of all kinds.
Favorite activities include scuba diving, picnicking, boating and swimming. The campground has hook-ups, a bathhouse and a playground.
There is a boat in the waters of the lake that was deliberately sunk to provide scuba diving for visitors. Snorkelling, boating and fishing are also offered.
Those that would prefer to enjoy the lake without getting their feet wet can go rock climbing in its surrounding hills, or can go picnicking on its shoreline. Camping is also available.
SLEEPY CREEK LAKE
This 83 hectare lake sits entirely within the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. It is a stunning lake that is surrounded by oak and pine forest. Sleepy Creek Lake is located in beautiful Berkeley County and is the perfect spot to cool off and relax on a hot summer afternoon. It’s renowned for some of the best trophy bass fishing in West Virginia.
The lake’s abundance of largemouth bass, northern pike, bluegill and crappie make it a fantastic spot for fishing. Only electric motor boats are allowed on the lake and night fishing is prohibited.
There are three campgrounds along the shoreline of Sleepy Creek Lake, all of which are on the east side of it. In total, there are 75 primitive camping sites available to tourists that wish to stay the night.
STONEWALL JACKSON LAKE
Nestled in the rolling hills of Lewis County, Stonewall Jackson Lake is an ideal setting for family fun and relaxation. Enjoy the outdoor plaza, swimming and fishing areas, walkways and overlook of the dam. The Stonewall Jackson State Park Resort features a golf course, Adirondack-style lodge, spa and swimming pool. The marina has boat slips, as well as canoe and watercraft rentals.
Fishing is the number one reason to visit Stonewall Jackson Lake. It is stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, walleye, bluegill, yellow perch and carp, amongst other species.
Along the shores of the 1,060 hectare lake is the Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. The award-winning park features hiking and biking trails, a marina and 40 campsites.
Also within the park is an indoor and outdoor pool, a full-service spa, 3 restaurants and a fitness centre. Plus, there are cottages, rooms and suites to relax in.
Just east of Morgantown, the new swimming beach at Cheat Lake is the perfect spot to spend the day with friends and family. The 700 hectare lake is a great place to enjoy recreational activities like boating, kayaking fishing and even a stand-up paddleboard yoga class.
This 21 kilometre long reservoir sits immediately downstream from the Cheat Canyon near neighbouring Pennsylvania. Cheat Lake boasts three marinas and a boat ramp.
The area surrounding Cheat Lake is fantastic for exploring and searching for swimming holes and waterfalls. You can even go to Cheat River for white water rafting or go rick climbing in the Coopers Rock State Forest.
The biking and hiking trails, fishing platforms, canoe rentals and playground make this a good family destination.
TOP SPOTS FOR ANGLERS
With 21 of West Virginia’s lakes being over 100 acres in size each, 2,000 miles of fishable streams and 30 ponds managed by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the scenic state of West Virginia has more than enough prime fishing spots to choose from.
Anglers who’ve got their heart set on reeling in some trophy-sized walleye should try their luck on Jennings Randolph Lake. These big boys may not come easy, but if you’ve got the patience, this might be the perfect fishing spot for you.
If you’re looking for a restful fishing experience with a view, head to the Bluestone River. This waterway stretches on for 10.5 miles, is surrounded by West Virginia’s cliffs and rugged landscapes and is packed with rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, rock bass and bluegill. Relax and fish peacefully from your canoe or kayak,
or try your luck at fly fishing!
WHITEWATER RAFTING & FAMILY FUN
If you’re up for some legendary whitewater rafting, West Virginia is where it’s at. Featuring one of the Top 10 whitewater rivers in the world, the teeming waterways of the Mountain State are sure to get your adrenaline pumping.
From leisurely, kid-friendly sections, to rushing Class V whitewater, the New River Gorge has something for everyone. With it’s peaceful swimming areas and quiet waters, the upper New River can be enjoyed by kids as young as 6 years old. For fast-moving thrills, the Lower New River will excite any whitewater enthusiast. Looking for a serious challenge? Visit the New River in the spring when the waters are roaring!
Want an epic whitewater experience you’ll tell your grandkids about? You’ve got it. The raging waters of the Gauley River are definitely not for the faint of heart or low of skill, but if you’re looking for the whitewater experience of a lifetime, you’ve gotta check it out. Plan carefully though- this beast can only be experienced for 6 weeks of the year. I’m talking to you, Adrenaline Junkies.