Beech Fork State Park, located in the south of the state, covers 3,144 acres in Cabell and Wayne Counties. Its most notable feature is a 720 acre lake, which was created by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1970s and is now used for fishing and boating. The park officially opened in 1979, and has been popular ever since. In addition to the lake, Beech Fork has hiking trails, campgrounds, cabins, and courts for sports like volleyball, basketball and softball.
Out of the parks that do not have lodges, Beech Fork ranks towards the top in terms of visitation and spending, and has an economic significance of over $8 million. Beech Fork State Park was 97% economically self-sufficient in 2017, meaning that it came very close to bringing in as much revenue as it needed to spend in operating expenses. This is partly because of its close proximity to population centers like Huntington and easy accessibility from major roads. Other factors could be the popularity of the campgrounds and cabins, or the boat rental, which offers everything from canoes and paddle boats to modern options like stand-up paddle-boards. There has been a recent push to build a lodge at Beech Fork, with a bill passed in the 2019 legislative session directing the DNR to study the feasibility of such a facility expansion.
This article is part of our State Park Spotlight series, on the economic importance of state parks in West Virginia.