BUCKHANNON –Governor Jim Justice made an announcement Friday afternoon at Audra State Park marking his longtime commitment to West Virginia’s state parks and tourism industry.
Justice, who has long been a supporter of state parks and since the beginning of his administration has sought to “fix up state parks” and “make it where people can make online reservations to the state parks” calls this a game changer.
“This is a great day for our state,” Justice proclaimed as he spoke to the group gathered at Audra State Park.
“The nation is looking at West Virginia to see what we are doing,” Justice said.
“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,” Justice said.
“I love the outdoors,” Justice said. “I grew up with bird dogs and grouse hunting.”
He noted during his comments he wished he’d brought his pole with him. He reminisced about catching a native trout in a stream “not three feet wide.”
Justice applauded the work of West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby.
“You’ve got to love this state to market this state, and Chelsea loves this state,” Justice said. “I can’t say enough about her hard work.”
“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 noted online reservations to West Virginia parks are up 43 percent over last year.
With the addition of online reservations, campers can easily select a site on their smartphones, tablets, or computers in advance of their trip and be assured it will be available when they arrive.
“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,” Sam England, chief of the West Virginia State Parks system said. “The new, paperless process makes it easier for guests to plan a family trip filled with good times and fond memories.”
“Many of our guests enjoy camping at the same park each year, so we’re excited to give them a new way to plan and enjoy their vacation,” England said. “Offering online reservations also opens up our beautiful parks and forests to a new generation of visitors, who will soon come to love a favorite park or forest of their own.”
More than seven million people visit West Virginia state parks or forests each year. That number is expected to increase with the addition of online reservations.
Online reservations include the following details:
All campsites and picnic shelters will be available for reservation one year in advance, beginning on the first day of the month for that month.
Advance reservations for campsites are encouraged; however, walk-ins will still be welcome, pending availability. Campers arriving at the park without an advance reservation can inquire about available sites by going online, calling 1-833-WVPARKS, or stopping by a designated check-in station or park office.
Existing mail-in and over-the-phone reservations have already been entered into the new system and will be honored for the 2019 season. Confirmation letters have been mailed, but guests can also confirm their reservations by calling 1-833-WVPARKS.
If a cancellation is made within 60 days of a visit, a credit toward a future stay will be issued. Cancellations made within one week are non-refundable.
To make a reservation or explore availability for campsites, cabins and lodge rooms at any West Virginia state park or forest, visit wvstateparks.com.
In addition to online reservations now being available, Justice also announced $3.5 million has been allocated to make upgrades to 16 state parks including Audra State Park.
The campground upgrade projects range from bathhouse improvements to electrical improvements. In addition to Audra, other parks slated for upgrades include 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.