10 Best Places for Free Camping in West Virginia

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Boondocking with a car tent in the woods with a view of mountains and the sunset

For a smaller state, scenic West Virginia has lots of incredible opportunities for free camping. They make it easy to see the state’s gorgeous mountains and clear-running streams without spending a fortune. 

Why West Virginia? We think it has some of the prettiest scenery in the region, and it’s less crowded than surrounding states. You’ll find more undeveloped stretches between the towns, especially in the southern part of the state. And that’s where we’ll explore the best places for free camping in West Virginia. Let’s go!

Can You Camp Anywhere in West Virginia?

Camping for free without amenities has a few different names, including boondocking and dispersed camping. It means setting up camp in places other than established campgrounds with no hook-ups. 

However, just because it doesn’t have any fees doesn’t mean you won’t have rules. You don’t have to reserve a site in advance, but you should camp only in designated areas. You’ll also often have a time limit. Usually, you can’t stay for more than 14 days in a 28-day period, but sometimes less.

Open road curving through a forest of trees in West Virginia.

Can You Camp on Public Land in West Virginia?

Even though it’s our tenth smallest state, West Virginia has more than 12 million acres of national forest. The National Park Service maintains lots of acreages, too. That’s great because it means lots of places for free camping in beautiful, protected settings. 

In general, state and federal agencies that maintain public lands allow camping when it doesn’t conflict with other uses. For us, this means lots of wonderful options for camping for free in places that are essentially nature preserves.

When Is the Best Time of Year to Camp in West Virginia?

You can enjoy visiting in the spring and summer, but early fall is best. Many love the springtime temperatures compared to hotter temps in the summer. However, West Virginia sees the most rain in the spring. 

We would ideally wait until after the intense summer heat subsides in early fall when going free camping in West Virginia. Traditionally, the bigger tourist crowds leave by then, too. So you might end up having these free camping spots all to yourself. And don’t forget about the beautiful fall colors too.

The 10 Best Places for Free Camping in West Virginia

If you don’t mind being self-sufficient for a spell, here are 10 terrific places where you can camp for free in West Virginia. The forest or park services manage most of these campgrounds. Keep in mind these spots have almost no amenities or drinking water, so you’ll need to bring your own.

1. Lake Sherwood Road Dispersed Camping

The campsites at Lake Sherwood Road lie on the edge of the largest lake in the Monongahela National Forest. They are also just outside the popular resort area of White Sulphur Springs in southeastern West Virginia. 

It has nearly 20 spacious campsites, some with access to the lake or scenic Meadow Creek. It has a bathhouse on an island only accessible by boat and excellent fishing opportunities. Many deer hunters come in the fall.

A woman in a hoodie holds her coffee mug out as she overlooks a river and meadow from her campsite

2. Forest Road 44 Dispersed Camping

A couple of hours to the north, near Durbin, these campsites have gravel pads and fire rings but no other amenities. The Forest Road 44 dispersed camping area sits near the Allegheny Trail and the West Fork Trail and not far from the west fork of the Greenbrier River. 

Bring your pets, go for a hike, or do some fishing in this free camping site in West Virginia. Unfortunately, you won’t get good internet or cell service here. 

3. Stonecoal Dispersed Camping Area

Farther west, this lovely small site sits at the end of Forest Road 209 off U.S. Route 250. It overlooks a fork of the Cheat River and has a grassy pad and two fire rings. You may even snag a site right on the river.

It also has two vault toilets along the road. The site has plenty of room, but larger rigs may have trouble negotiating the turnaround at the end of the road.

Pro Tip: Never boondock without these 25 items — you’ll thank us later!

4. War Ridge Campground

The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is one of West Virginia’s top outdoor destinations. Most of the National Park Service’s campgrounds have direct water access, but not War Ridge Campground. 

It does have eight sites on top of a ridge, each with a picnic table and fire ring, for tents or small RVs. It also has a portable toilet nearby. Some visitors mentioned that it’s quiet, not crowded, and has a well-maintained gravel road.

Waterfalls along the river in West Virginia

5. Glade Creek Campground

Glade Creek has six sites on the water in the New River tributary, 6 miles down a gravel road. Each has a picnic table and fire ring. It also has handicapped-accessible bathrooms on site. 

Reviews state that it works best for RVs under 25 ft. Bigger rigs might get nervous crossing the wooden bridge. In warmer months you can enjoy a swim. You can also explore the nearby trails.

Keep In Mind: Have you heard your RV is “too big” for boondocking? These 5 boondocking tips for big RVs can help.

6. Abe’s Run Road Dispersed Campsites

In southeastern West Virginia, near Barstow, you’ll find four sites with a view of the East Fork of the Greenbrier River. 

Each site at Abe’s Run Road has a fire ring and a picnic table, but you won’t have a great cell signal. You can enjoy the beautiful forest on the hiking trail that runs along the river in this part of the Monongahela National Forest.

Check out the free, dispersed camping are on Abe’s Run Road in West Virginia.

7. Stone Cliff Campground

Located off Route 25 near the town of Thurmond, this free camping site in West Virginia offers riverfront camping in a sandy beach-like setting. You’ll have a bit of a walk from the parking area to get to the six tent sites, which lie just past the boat launch area.

Stone Cliff Campground has one designated vehicle camping site, but you can’t bring trailers. You’ll have access to fire rings, bathrooms, and good cell service.

8. Little River Dispersed Camping

This beautiful and remote riverside site in the Monongahela National Forest lies at the end of a long, winding road. If you don’t mind primitive conditions and no cell service, you may enjoy this hidden gem. 

Little River dispersed camping has 16 sites, about half of which are for tents only. Additionally, you may find this an excellent spot for hiking and trout fishing.

Three young woman hike through a forest trail using sticks for balance.

9. Meadow Creek Campground

Turn past the railroad tracks into a big flat meadow and claim a patch of ground. This popular free campground sits on the New River near a community called Meadow Bridge. 

You may enjoy the sounds of rushing waters and views of the scenic rolling hills. Many campers agree Meadow Creek would be a perfect slice of paradise if it weren’t for the noise from nearby trains.

10. Grandview Sandbar Campground

You can hear the trains at Grandview Sandbar Campground, too, but farther in the distance. This NPS site on the New River lies just off Route 41 near Prince. It offers 10 wooded areas for tents or small to medium-sized RVs. 

Additionally, it has six walk-in sites and two handicapped-accessible spots by the river. It has level campsites and clean bathrooms.

Don’t Miss Out on Free West Virginia Camping

Whether you want a quick stopover or settle in for a bit, try some of these free camping locations. It’s a primitive way to travel because you’ll have little to no amenities, but that’s a big part of the appeal for many people. 

Doing without some comforts, at least for a while, lets you focus more on nature and wildlife. And you’ll find an abundance of it on these public lands in West Virginia. Don’t miss out on free camping in West Virginia.

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