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Seneca Rocks area

May 16, 2013

The newest campground in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area opened in 1990. Located directly off State Route 28 and conveniently close to the Seneca Rocks Visitor Center and Seneca Rocks, the campground has a variety of sites available.

There are 25 conventional drive-in type campsites in loops A and B. The 13 sites in Loop C have electric hook-ups as well as all the conveniences of the first two loops. Each has a picnic table, fire ring, tent pads and a paved parking place large enough for two vehicles or an RV. Ten of these sites are double units with room for twice as many people and vehicles. All loops have showers and modern flush toilets.

Group campsites D, E and F have five picnic tables and tent pads, a barbecue grill, fire ring and nearby parking areas. These sites will accommodate up to 40 people per site. Showers and modern flush toilets also serve this area. A magnificent view of Seneca Rocks dominates the group campsites.

At the north end of the campground are 40 walk-in sites, each with a picnic table, tent pad and fire ring. Parking is nearby and the shower facilities in the other areas are available. Views of the rocks are particularly good from these sites, especially at sunset.

Several sites are located on level ground, without steps, and are wheelchair accessible. The most easily accessible sites are: Loop A, sites 3, 7 and 9; Loop B, sites 11-16 and 21 (sites 12 and 13 are double sites); Loop C, sites 28, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36 and 38; Group site F and the lower walk-in site in G.

Campsites are available through reservations May 15-September 10 by calling the nationwide MISTIX reservations system at 1-800-CAMP. There is a fee for this service, and reservations must be made two weeks in advance. Campsites not reserved in advance are available on first come, first served basis. The campground is open April 15 through October 31.

Interpretive Programs

Interpretive programs are usually scheduled on weekends during the summer. Friday evenings around sunset movies featuring wildlife, local geology or history are shown at the outdoor amphitheater. On Saturdays, a naturalist program is usually given. Check the schedule of events posted on bulletin boards at the campground or Visitor Center.


Spruce Knob Lake Campground

Spruce Knob Lake Campground is located in a beautiful mixed hardwood forest near the 25-acre Spruce Knob Lake and within view of Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia. The lake is stocked for trout fishing regularly.

The campground contains 43 spacious and mostly barrier free campsites including 12 walk-in sites with vault toilets and potable water at hand pumps. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern post. Most sites also have level parking spurs and a tent pad. Some double sites are available. There are no electrical hook-ups or dump stations. Campers pay fees at a self-service station or to campground host.

Gatewood Group Campground

The nearby Gatewood Campground has three sites and can accommodate a total of 20 people. Conveniences include a vault toilet, fire rings, and picnic tables. Drinking water is available at Spruce Knob Lake Campground, Campground is located behind a locked gate. See Sprice Knob Lake Campground host for access.

Nearby attractions include Spruce Knob Lake, Spruce Knob Tower and Picnic Area, and several hiking trails.


From the north: Take Whitmer Road (C)-29) south from US 33 (one mile west of Harman) to Whitmer for 8.3 miles. From Whitmer Road for 10.3 miles and turn left on Forest Road 1 for 2.5 miles to the campground.

From the south: Turn left onto Forest Road 112 for approximately 11 miles to the lake.

From the east: Take Briery Gap Road (C0-33/4 at Gateway General Store), 2 miles south of Riverton off US 33, for 2.5 miles to Forest Road 112 and follow signs to the Lake for another 14 miles.

Roadside Camping

Camping is restricted in some areas of the Monongahela National Forest. Camping is prohibited at or near Spruce Knob Lake. Many visitors enjoy camping along Gandy Creek between Whitmer and Spruce Knob Lake in Randolph County. This is a primitive camping area and services are not provided. Off-road vehicles are prohibited on National Forest lands. Camping is not permitted in parking lots



Big Bend Campground

The Big Bend Campground lies at the end of the Smoke Hole River Road in the middle of the Smoke Hole Canyon. The campground is named for the horseshoe shaped bend in the South Branch of the Potomac River on which it was built.

The main attraction is the canyon itself; it is nearly a half mile deep with many vertical walls. In 1965, this canyon was included in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area because of its outstanding scenery and recreation opportunities. The campground is the starting point for adventures into the lower canyon where there are no roads or trails. Canoes and kayaks launch near the day-use parking area.

Fishing is another popular pastime. The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources stocks the river with rainbow and golden trout January through June and again in October. Large and smallmouth bass are also found in the river. The Big Bend Loop Trail circles the campground providing access to many pools and scenic spots.

Big Bend Campground has 46 campsites located in three loops. Each site has a table, fire ring, lantern post and parking place. Sites in the lower loop also have improved tent sites. There are several double sites in the upper loops. Piped water and flush toilets are available April through October. The lower loop opens earlier and remains open through hunting season. A hand pump and vault toilets are available outside the main season.

Campsites are available through advance reservation by calling 1-800-280-CAMP (TTY: 1-800-879-4496). There is a fee for this reservation service. Reservation must be made at least two week in advance. Campsites not reserved in advance are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are usually unreserved campsites available.

When Big Bend Campground is full or closed for the winter, the Jess Judy Campground is available about one mile upstream. This is a primitive camping area; no services or facilities are provided. Camping is not permitted elsewhere along the road (in the Smoke Hole Canyon).


Take US Route 220 to Upper Tract, West Virginia (between Petersburg and Franklin). North of Upper Tract, where 220 crosses the South Branch, State Route 2, the Smoke Hole River Road enters the Smoke Hole. Big Bend Campground is about eight miles from the Upper Tract Bridge.

This is a narrow winding road; the last two and a half miles are not paved. It is difficult for vehicles towing large trailers.

Jess Judy Group Camping Area

The Jess Judy Camping Area offers primitive camping along the river. Pit toilets are available.. Primitive camping is also available during hunting season at Annie Self, near Eagle Rock. Elsewhere in the canyon, camping along the road is not permitted. Operated in conjuction with the Big Bend Campground. Reservations can be made at or by calling 877-444-6777.

Camping is allowed along the Smoke Hole Road 28/11 (on North Fork Mountain) and throughout the backcountry except at trailheads. When camping outside of campgrounds, visitors are expected to remove all traces of their visit upon leaving.


Camping is limited to 14 days per stay in the campground. Leaving your campsite unoccupied during the first night after equipment has been set up, or leaving equipment unattended for more than 24 hours is prohibited.

Check-out time is 2:00 pm.

Quiet time is from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am.

Single campsites are limited to eight persons, two vehicles or a vehicle and a trailer.

Motorcycles are limited to the number of allowed people per site..

Double sites are limited to 16 persons and two vehicles.

Park in the parking areas provided and not in the campsites or along the roads.

Use tent pads when provided.

Weapons, firearms and fireworks may not be discharged in the area.

Waste material from trailers must be deposited at a dump station. Please place trash in receptacles provided. At some areas, separate containers are provided for recyclable aluminum. You are welcome to take the aluminum home with you; there are no recycling centers in this area.

Fires must be built in fire rings provided. Use dead and down wood only. Please do not cut or damage living plants and trees.

Do not pound nails into trees, picnic tables and other facilities. These are safety hazards and injure the tress.

Use lantern posts. Lantern heat kills the inner bark of trees.

Camping is not permitted in picnicking and other areas posted as day-use sites.

Pets must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in the water. Leashes attached to trees can damage the bark.

Stock animals are not permitted in the campgrounds.


Fees are subject to change. Call (304) 257-4488 for current prices, and in summer call (304) 567-2847.

Commercial Camping

Camping is available at commercial campgrounds to the north of Seneca Rocks along State Route 28. There are many commercial camping areas throughout the region.

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