At a mere 1.2 square miles and 1500 residents, chances are pretty good that you haven’t heard of Parsons, West Virginia!
We stumbled upon this quaint little town in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains by chance late last August, while seeking out a campground along our “avoid-major-highways-if-at-all-possible” route from Tennessee to New York. Did I mention it was also our first official day as full-time nomads?!
Staying off the beaten path and driving the state and county roads of West Virginia, we saw some amazing scenery, both natural and man-made, on the way:
Located an hour and a half southeast of Morgantown and at an elevation of 1,649 feet, Parsons was the site of one of the first land battles of the Civil War. On July 13, 1861, Confederate General Robert S. Garnett was the first officer killed in battle during the war on Corrick’s Ford Battlefield.
The only campground in town was Five River Campground, and it happened to be a perfect home base for a couple relaxing days spent working and exploring the beautiful Alleghenies of West Virginia.
Family-owned and host of the annual Pickin’ in Parsons bluegrass festival, Five River is situated on a rolling, grassy ribbon of land behind a row of businesses and homes, just off the main street in town. We were surprised how secluded and peaceful our surroundings were, given its proximity to town. It looks far more like a golf course than a campground!
We never even had to leave the campground to experience nature and take a relaxing walk with the dogs – a couple minutes’ stroll from our site and bordering one side of the campground is the beautiful Shavers Fork River.
Five River Campground has 42 full hookup RV sites (but many more tent sites), with the restrooms and showers housed together with a small laundry area. The wi-fi was surprisingly fast, so we spent our day catching up on some work before venturing out to explore.
On our second and final night in town, we made the 30-minute drive over a mountain pass into nearby Thomas, West Virginia, for dinner.
Thomas is conveniently near the gorgeous Blackwater Falls of Davis, WV. The state park and falls are named for the Blackwater River that majestically falls five stories before continuing its path through an eight-mile long gorge. The “black” (but really more like amber) water is colored by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. This unique, dark-colored waterfall is said to be one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia.
The town is also at the head of a new 30-mile rail trail (a repurposed train route) that connects the city of Thomas to nearby Elkins, West Virginia – a 30-mile downhill journey through the Blackwater Canyon. The route is very popular with bicyclists wanting an easy day’s ride through nature. We unfortunately didn’t have time to partake in the rail trail, but it’s on the list for next time!
We did take the recommendation of the campground owner to check out the Purple Fiddle in Thomas that evening. A quirky organic eatery housed in a former general store, it’s a favorite watering hole for microbrew lovers. They also serve up wine and fancy coffees. The Purple Fiddle is named for the impressive number of touring musicians (of varying fame and genre) performing live most nights on the venue’s indoor stage or outdoor patio.
We couldn’t have asked for a better first experience with nomadic serendipity in this lesser-known area of West Virginia, and can’t wait to return!
This is such a small world. I came across your blog through Pinterest searching for some info on Rv’ing fulltime since my husband has decided he’d like us to get to save up, sell everything, get an RV, and live on the RV full tie with our kids. Long story short, we’re from West Virginia! We’ve lived in different parts of the state at different times. Love the area you mentioned. You should try to go through the south eastern area near Princeton that takes you to Virginia off Route 460 to Bristol to Tennessee since you’re from that direction. The mountains are gorgeous there. Especially in the fall, October, when the leaves change. You should look up the New River Gorge Bridge and see about traveling to it..I’m sure there’s a couple camp sites you can get to near there. You’ll love it!
Thanks so much for your comment, Sherri! We visited the Princeton area before we started RVing and have seen the New River Gorge without our trailer, but hope to get back there someday to camp. Jason lived in Blacksburg for a while when he worked at Virginia Tech, and did a lot of hiking in the mountains of that area of VA/WV.
We were in a hurry to get to New England last fall before it got too cold, so we unfortunately had to pass through WV rather quickly. Parsons was one of those areas we’d never heard about though and found completely by accident when we needed a place to rest for a couple nights, so we wanted to write about it for those who might also enjoy it for its relative obscurity.
Best of luck with your plans to get on the road! If you have any questions or think of any topics you’d like us to blog about just let us know. We turned to many others for advice during our process of becoming nomadic, and are happy to pay it forward! 🙂
You are right Kristen, the campground is a beautiful place to camp and relax. We found it on the internet after the campground we were camping at was sold and then closed. Five River is a very peaceful and beautiful place to relax and enjoy life.
Thanks for the comment, Linda! Glad you found it to be as lovely as we did. We can’t wait to get back there someday and explore more of the area.
I live in Parsons Wv and as a kid u grew up in what is now known as the 5 rivers camp ground. I remember swimming right where u took that pic brings back great memories
Thanks, Staci! We loved it there and can’t wait to go back. It was too cold in September for any swimming, but our dogs sure loved the water! 😀