City/State: Gauley Bridge, WV
Season: Year round
Rates (as of 2014): Primitive tent: $26 per night; Full hookup sites (water, sewer, 30-amp electric): $31 rear or $34 riverfront for up to four people
On our first cross-country summer trip in the RV, our very first night was spent at the New River Campground in Gauley Bridge, WV, about 5 hours from our home in Cleveland. Despite being a bit off the freeway and not participating in our camping club, I originally chose New River Campground because of its proximity to the Cathedral Falls. My 3-year-old son loves waterfalls, so I figured this was a great way to kick off our first official family vacation.
Our GPS took us through a small town along Route 60. We had a few eyebrow-raising moments through residential areas as our 26-foot travel trailer and hitch creaked and screeched at the sharp turns and quick, steep ups and downs over railroad crossings. Although we were staring at the GPS as we neared our destination, the sign came out of nowhere as we rounded a corner and passed a gas station. Unable to make an immediate stop or fast turn, we overshot the driveway and had to travel up the mountain a bit to find a place to turn around. Fortunately, there was a small drive that we could back into to turn around and go back down the hill. Otherwise, that would have been a long, long trek because there was nothing but two lanes and guardrails winding through the hills.
When we did arrive, the staff was friendly. We backed into our site and got to work hooking up our water and sewer hoses. The riverfront site was beautiful. We were level with the New River. A big tree shaded our site from the river’s edge. Across the river, treetops climbed upward along the hills. Looking up or down the river meant more tree-covered rolling hills. We couldn’t wait to see the Cathedral Falls, and it was everything we hoped.
New River Campground offers typical amenities: Wi-Fi, small playground, dump station, propane and store. It was clean and quiet all around. Although we stayed that one day, we had absolutely no complaints about anything, except that the playground equipment was covered by dead bugs. I suppose you’ll have that in a campground next to the river.
Seriously, when we woke up the next morning and I looked out our RV window, all I could think was: “This is a spectacular start to our cross-country trip.” I cannot emphasize how refreshing it was to wake up to something other than the sounds of tires on pavement, the television or lawnmowers. To look out the window and see ducks floating down the river. Of course, we had to dip into our stash of hotdog buns so that the boys could lure the ducks to our shore.
After breakfast, we took a walk to the edge of the campground and back. There was a huge boulder sticking out into the water a little ways down, so I took the boys out there and we tossed sticks and stones in. Then, we packed up and continued on in our journey.
Cathedral Falls and More
Cathedral Falls was a 3-minute drive from the campground, with a small parking lot for convenience. Despite toting a whiny 3-year-old and a just-turned-1-year-old and our DSLR camera, we decided to climb the rocks and water to get closer to the falls. It was worth it. The boys had so much fun playing in the running water and the falls were incredibly beautiful.
There are actually some other falls nearby that we didn’t have a chance to see: Kanawha Falls. Also, the New River Gorge Bridge looks like a site to see, but we didn’t have time to stop there either. The New River Campground website provides a list of local attractions.
If you’re traveling through this part of the country, definitely stop by New River Campground and the nearby Cathedral Falls. Whether you’re in a tent or an RV, you’ll get the full feel of camping as you gaze around the beautiful landscape.