Adventure U.S.

Cacapon State Park: My New Deal Getaway in West Virginia

Cacapon State Park offers a 4-star resort experience for anyone visiting nearby historic Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. But I wanted to experience what life was like 90 years ago when the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the cabins, stables, lake, dam, and beach at Capapon State Park.

Now for anyone who doesn’t know about the CCC, it was a service-in-America option for young men during the Depression in the 1930s. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) established the New Deal as a way to keep Americans gainfully employed.

“Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. The CCC or C’s as it was sometimes known, allowed single men between the ages of 18 and 25 to enlist in work programs to improve America’s public lands, forests, and parks.”

National Park Service

Three Key CCC Facts

CCC planted more than 3 billion trees.

The organization built shelters and trails in 800 American parks.

CCC ran for nine years (until 1942).

National Register of Historic Places

Cacapon State Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in Morgan county, the 6,115-acre state park is situated in the northeast corner of the state (near the Maryland border. It spans the Eastern Panhandle. Key geographical elements are the Cacapon Mountain as well as the Cacapon River (in the west). The is a main entrance to the park near its beach.

The CCC built a dam along with Capacon Lake. But the park’s historic district also includes legacy cabins and playgrounds built between 1933 and 1942 in West Virginia. The historic designation includes rustic style architecture and landscape design.

According to the West Virginia Department of Commerce, “Cacapon Resort State Park was the first CCC state park to be completed. Camp Morgan was established October 4, 1934 in what is now the main picnic area in the park. The land was devastated by clear-cutting of the timber and by poor agricultural practices of small subsistence farmers during the Great Depression. The men were responsible for the construction of 27 miles of roads and trails within the park, bath house, lake, dam and beach, picnic areas and shelters, stables, supply house, staff residences and rental cabins. The 12-room Old Inn was the first lodge in the WV Park system.”

North Fork Cabin Area

So I decided to vacation in West Virginia’s mountains in July. My main mission was to find a dog-friendly hotel so I could take Parker to see Berkeley Springs. I was so excited to discover that Cacapon State Park was located just nine miles down the road.

I chose to stay in the North Fork Cabin Area. There are five rustic cabins, numbered 8-12. As some of the cabins are pet-friendly, I was able to bring my Golden Retriever on this West Virginia vacation. (But the resort does charge a $40 pet surcharge.)

$40 surcharge for pet-friendly room

Check-in is set at 4 p.m. so Parker and I had to wait in the parking lot at the hotel. But there is a wonderful outdoor patio where you can rest in the shade. Parker was quite happy to eat ice cubes out of a thermos and nose around for any sticks on the ground.

After the staff provided me with the cabin keys, we had to drive up the mountain to reach the North Park. The log cabins are nestled in groves of trees near the meandering roads. They sit on stone foundations. During the colder months, you can build a fire in the stone chimneys.

Legacy Cabins

The CCC built all five legacy cabins. They vary in size. There are two 2-person cabins, two 3-person cabins and a 6-person cabin. The CCC also built a playground in the North Fork Cabin Area.

2-person “CCC-era” legacy cabin

I stayed in the “1-person/1-dog” cabin. This rustic log cabin features saddle notching and cement chinking. There is board and batten siding in the gable ends. There are six pane wood windows. The cabin is one and one-half story high. It had an asphalt shingle roof. The interior stone chimney dominated the room.

Stone chimney

My favorite feature about the cabin was the wooden rocking chair. I was so tired after walking about 7 miles around Berkeley Springs that I just collapsed in the chair. It reminded me of poem entitled “My Rocking-Chair” written by Robert Service.

“When I am old and worse for wear

I want to buy a rocking-chair,

And set it on a porch where shine 

The stars of morning-glory vine . . .”

Robert Service

While I didn’t pull the rocking chair out on the front entrance porch, I was tempted. In fact, the porch was my second favorite thing about the cabin. Parker and I love to take long walks at the U.S. Capitol grounds each morning where he likes to sit on a bench with me. On our West Virginia getaway, we shared the porch.

Now I always carry a fold up chair in my Suburu so Parker and I were able to watch the sunset outside. Fireflies danced their ballet among the conifer and evergreen trees. A rabbit darted around the wildflowers and grass.

CCC-Era Cabin

Staying in a CCC-era legacy cabin was hardly “roughing it.” The cabin featured electricity and air conditioning. There is no telephone in the room but cell service can be found throughout the park. The double bed is extremely comfortable. There are window blinds to pull down at night. The mini kitchen featured a refrigerator and stovetop. My shower didn’t work (no water) so I did have to skip it. I’m glad I decided not to take Parker swimming in Cacapon Lake because a wet dog is a smelly dog.

I was delighted to experience New Deal history with my one-night stay deep in the West Virginia’s woods in a legacy cabin.

“Despites some changes, Cacapon State Park retains its overall, original New Deal-era landscape design. The park’s 6,115 acres are primarily covered with forests of native hard- and softwood trees, both deciduous and coniferous.”

Facilities

There is so much to do Cacapon State Park that I can imagine a family could easily spend a week’s vacation. First stop is the sandy beach and lakeside swimming. On a weekend, the beach is packed with families on a hot July day. Parker and I decided to find a picnic table so he could sit and watch the children swim in the lake.

All paying, overnight guests get a free beach pass valid throughout their stay. The beach operation is seasonal.

Bikers will lose themselves riding around the wooded park. There are nearly 25 miles of track, including machine built and single trap.

Both lakes are stocked so the anglers can enjoy licensed fishing. The Lodge Front Desk sells the fishing licenses. Even if you don’t like to fish, I recommend walking down to little lake near the legacy cabins. Parker and I found a bench. He watched the little boy trying to catch a fish. I just wanted to stare at the mountains in the distance. Pure zen.

Cacapon State Park offers paddle boats, row boats, canoes, kayaks and paddle boards to rent. It costs $12 per hour. Triple “C” Outfitters provides horseback riding. It costs $40 for a 1-hour horseback ride. There is a Wobble Clay Range. The Healing Waters Spa will “refresh, rejuvenate and re-energize your mind, body & soul.”

The park’s 18-hole Robert Trent Jones course features 72 sand traps and onsite driving range. The green fee is $35 per person for the 18-holes and $20 per person for 9-holes on the weekend.

The Frisbee Disc Golf course features 18 holes of adventure and fun.

Nature Center Programs

Cacapon State Park is part of the Young People for Parks (YPP). This is an environmental education program geared to children aged 6-16. Participants must complete three specified programs during their stay at the park.

Nature Center

On the weekend when I visited, Cacapon State Park offered five different programs on July 10. The WV Morning Melodies is a birding class where attendees learn to identify Cacapon’s common song birds by sigh and sound. There is also a 90-minute Berkeley Springs State Park orientation class to meet the summer naturalist. The afternoon featured the Power of Pollinators” and “Weed Warriors” classes.

Pint-sized legacy cabin on wheels

If I had stayed over on Saturday night, I would have definitely attended “Cacapon Campfire.” This nighttime event features a campfire circle plus songs and marshmellows.

Hiking

Cacapon State Park features 13 different trails of varying difficulty. Parker and I decided to climb the Central Trail, which was closest to our cabin. A key point of interest is Bear Den Rocks. I am grateful we didn’t see a bear! The nearby crag overlooks the valley between Cacapon and Sleepy Creek mountains.

Central Trail

Although the 5-mile hike is rated “moderate with some midgrade,” I can say that it was challenging. This was either because Parker was eager to lunge at every squirrel, bird, or stick which he saw OR because I didn’t wear hiking boots.

The Central Trail crossed the east side of Cacapon Mountain. I saw a lot of hardwoods, pines, bushes and wildflowers. The rocks were pretty hard to climb over in parts because I couldn’t lose hold of Parker’s leash.

Berkeley Springs

Naturally, Berkeley Springs is the first choice to relax in the mineral springs water. But Cacapon Resort offers a “healing waters spa” that is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition, the hotel boasts a indoor heated pool with a whirlpool. It is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Since dogs are not permitted, I didn’t get to try these services.

Weekend Getaway

Since the park is located just 110 miles from two major cities, it is a great weekend getaway.

“The park is frequented by both nature lovers and adventure seekers from around the state, as well as nearby cities such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C.”

West Virginia State Park

I was entranced by the Cacapon Park’s Depression-era history. It was easy to imagine my parents packing up my older siblings to stay in a cabin in the 1940s after WWII ended. The lake would have provided fresh trout for dinner cooked over a grill. The kids would have run around CCC-era playground and swam in the lake.

But none of this would have been possible without FDR’s CCC. These young men came to the Eastern Panhandle wielding their hammers, saws, and nails. Their legacy lives on through the nearly 100-year-old rustic cabins which are still available to rent.

(NOTE: The Ole’ Inn at Cacapon State Park was the first overnight accommodating lodge in the West Virginia State Park System. It is still available to rent today. It would be perfect for a family reunion as there are 12 rooms.)

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55 Comments

  • Reply
    Daniela
    July 23, 2022 at 7:03 am

    This looks like the most wonderful place to spend the weekend! Thank you so much for sharing this 🙂

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 7:10 am

      This state park is absolutely wonderful. I loved the experience of staying in a log cabin with my pup.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    July 23, 2022 at 11:05 am

    I just love visiting state and national parks, and Cacapon looks great. Those cabins look cozy and comfortable, perfect for a relaxing stay!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 12:00 pm

      Me too! I think it is great to stay at state parks if they have lodging. Time in nature is always special! It was a bonus to bring my dog.

  • Reply
    Jill
    July 23, 2022 at 11:41 am

    This looks wonderful. I’d love to have a dog I can travel with some time. Great to know places that offer pet-friendly rooms!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 11:59 am

      I always try to find interesting dog-friendly accommodations because so many people now have their pandemic puppies. They don’t want to leave them in a kennel.

  • Reply
    Erica
    July 23, 2022 at 11:56 am

    Thanks for the tips about visiting Cacapon State Park. What a charming cabin stay! I appreciated learning more about the history of Cacapon and the role of the CCC. The cabin looks so inviting and relaxing after enjoying all of the nearby hiking. And Parker is adorable!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 11:58 am

      I love the CCC era history so it was a great opportunity to stay in a log cabin. I feel very lucky to bring my dog. He loves our travel adventures.

  • Reply
    Bejal
    July 23, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    Wow what an incredible stay and history about Cacapon Park. Your posts are always go informative to read as I haven’t covered the US much (although just returned from Boston) and it’s really insightful to learn so much from you. Wonderful weekend stop!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 1:56 pm

      I do try to find unusual and less-traveled American towns to explore. But these also need dog-friendly hotels because I always want to bring my Golden Retriever with me.

  • Reply
    Elena Pappalardo
    July 23, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    What an incredible historic experience! Thanks for introducing me to this special stay!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 1:55 pm

      I was excited to stay in West Virginia d as and learn more about its history. The region is so beautiful.

  • Reply
    Wendy
    July 23, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    I love the rustic cabin! And I really appreciated all the history about the park and the CCC. It’s amazing how much the CCC contributed to our national and state parks in such a short time.

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 1:54 pm

      I agree. I was fascinated to learn that these cabins as well as the inn were still standing after nine decades. Great workmanship!

  • Reply
    Jen Ambrose
    July 23, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    I have to admit, WV was never really on my list until I learned about the new national park – but now I keep seeing more cool things there!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 2:58 pm

      I really want to visit our newest National Park but it is a 5 hour drive from DC. I am so glad that I can visit Cacapon State Park in just 2 hours from DC.

  • Reply
    Erin
    July 23, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Cacapon State Park looks like the perfect rustic weekend getaway. Parker is a lucky dog to be able to go to so many cool places! I love that you can rent equipment there, so you don’t have to haul all your gear.

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 2:57 pm

      I wish I had stayed more than one night as I would love to go horseback riding and kayaking. It is a lovely place.

  • Reply
    Brittany
    July 23, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    These cabins look so cozy! I love that they allow pets to stay with you for only $40 more. Parker looks like he had a great time!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 4:58 pm

      I really appreciate how more hotel brands as well as AirBnbs are allowing pets to stay. Now that I have Parker, I always want to bring him on my trips.

  • Reply
    Brittany
    July 23, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    These cabins look so cozy! I love that they allow pets to stay with you for only $40 more. Parker looks like he had a great time too!

  • Reply
    Shannon
    July 23, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    Wow. This looks amazing! A great article!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 4:59 pm

      Thank you! This was a very special weekend. I love Berkeley Springs’ connection to George Washington.

  • Reply
    Linnea
    July 23, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    What great cabins! These are so perfect for a weekend getaway!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 6:35 pm

      I loved examining the logs smd old fashioned window panes while I laid in my bed. Very rustic and homey.

  • Reply
    Bea
    July 23, 2022 at 5:37 pm

    That cabins look great! And I think the surcharge is worth it for being able to have your fur baby with you.

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 6:34 pm

      I have never slept in a 90 year old cabin so I felt like a pioneer. I am so glad that my dog could stay in the cabin.

  • Reply
    Nadine Arab
    July 23, 2022 at 5:45 pm

    Looks like an amazing getaway!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 6:33 pm

      We had a great time.

  • Reply
    Sharyn
    July 23, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    What a great place to explore, so much history. And those cabins, they look so rustic. Glad you could take Parker. He must of had a blast with a new place to explore.

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 23, 2022 at 6:33 pm

      Parker loved the big hike up the mountain. He had his nose down hunting for sticks. Fun adventure.

  • Reply
    Fiona Mai
    July 23, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    Great to learn more about the CCC and what it was like at the Capapon State Park nearly a decade ago. This place is such a gem!

  • Reply
    Krista
    July 23, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    This looks like an amazing place to spend a few peaceful days! I’d love to explore this state park.

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 24, 2022 at 5:37 am

      I definitely plan to go back. I want to go horseback riding. Parker wants to explore more trails.

  • Reply
    Sue
    July 24, 2022 at 3:17 am

    I felt relaxed just reading this! The cabin looks like a fantastic place to stay, for the history, the rocking chair & the porch (although disappointed about the shower!). Very peaceful & it sounds like Parker had a fab time too!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 24, 2022 at 5:37 am

      I am glad the article made you relax. I wish I owned that rocking chair. It was so comfortable.

  • Reply
    Alma
    July 24, 2022 at 5:32 am

    What a fabulous cabin stay and love those little pint-sized legacy cabins too. Great that you could take Parker and sounds like he had a wonderful time – very comfy there!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 24, 2022 at 5:36 am

      It was really an educational experience! And comfy.

  • Reply
    Anja
    July 24, 2022 at 8:12 am

    Gorgeous. We have nothing like that here in Germany, and I would travel to the US to experience it, among other things

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 24, 2022 at 10:01 am

      You should plan a trip to the USA to visit our National and state parks and stay in these rustic cabins. It is quite an adventure. I hope you get to visit!

  • Reply
    Maggie
    July 24, 2022 at 8:28 am

    This sounds like such a fun getaway! Your pictures definitely remind me of the CCC cabins in Shenandoah. Still a rustic feel, but definitely upgraded for modern sensibilities haha.

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 24, 2022 at 10:00 am

      It is also my list to stay in a cabin in Shenandoah National Park but it is so hard to get a reservation especially during the autumn months.

  • Reply
    Catherine - Savvy Family Travel
    July 24, 2022 at 9:14 am

    What a unique stay, fascinating history, and beautiful forest! I recently found out that my grandfather worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps in South Dakota near Mt Rushmore!

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 24, 2022 at 9:59 am

      Catherine it is so cool that your grandfather worked in the CCC. It was an amazing organization. I am so grateful for all their work at our state parks. Cacapon is a family-friendly place to stay if you ever visit WV.

  • Reply
    simplyjolayne
    July 24, 2022 at 10:07 am

    What a fun adventure. I love the times we have been able to stay in cabins right in the forest.

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 24, 2022 at 1:36 pm

      Camping in a cabin in the woods is the best!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    July 24, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    We are always looking for recommendstions for VW as we often pass through on road trips. Thanks for sharing this destination!

  • Reply
    Shannon
    July 24, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    I love that cabin! What a cool place to stay and hike!

  • Reply
    A Capone Connection
    July 24, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    This is really cute. I love the tiny cabins on wheels. My dad lives in WV so this is good to know.

  • Reply
    ANUKRATI DOSI
    July 25, 2022 at 12:24 am

    Lovely! Such a cute place to stay.

  • Reply
    Denise
    July 25, 2022 at 10:04 am

    Cacapon State Park was not on my radar, thanks for the introduction. Now I want to stay in those adorable log cabins!

  • Reply
    KarlaTypes
    July 27, 2022 at 10:12 am

    I loveeee cabins. This is lovely! I LOVE your pup, btw-

  • Reply
    Chelsea Messina
    July 30, 2022 at 2:09 pm

    The cabins are so adorable and soooo not “primative” haha I LOVE IT. Why are some on wheels? Can you like rent them and tow them around?

    • Reply
      Terri
      July 30, 2022 at 4:22 pm

      I don’t know why they have mini cabins on wheels. They are near the visitors center so I assume it is to show visitors what a rustic cabin looks like.

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