Weather played a significant role where we camped this weekend. The majority of the state showed rain until Sunday Morning except for two parks Chief Logan State Park and Tomlinson Run State Park. Due to the drive being twice as far to Tomlinson Run than Chief Logan and Chief Logan having an awesome looking swimming pool, Chief Logan it was.
Chief Logan State Park is a 4,000 acre Park located in the Southern Coal Fields of West Virginia (WV). The Park is named after Chief Logan of the Cayuga (Mingo) Tribe, which is a complete history lesson on its own. So, let’s continue with the Park. For staying accommodations guest have the choices of a 75 room lodge and 25 camping sites. The lodge contains an onsite restaurant, indoor fitness center, and pool. All 25 campsites have electric and water, 14 with sewer, and can be reserved.
Staying at any Park, we look at the activities available and Park Event Calendar for the weekend of the visit. This weekend, Chief Logan didn’t have anything scheduled, but there were plenty of activities to do at the Park.
Chief Logan State Park is currently the only WV State Park that is running a Very Important Camper (VIC) Package. This package is $100 per family and provides the family with a reserved two-night camping stay, two nights of firewood delivery, access to the swimming pool, miniature golf, game courts, and access to the Wildlife Exhibit. For us, the VIC package was a saving of $26 but can quickly save more if you do the activities more than once.
Friday, our packing routine is usually the same. I’m at work and Heather bust her butt to get things organized and packed. This trip was a long drive, and we wanted to take our bikes, no roof rack, and no pull behind. So, packing had to be a magical game of Tetris. In the pouring rain, she worked her puzzle skills and was able to make room for all of our gear: baby, camping, hiking, and biking, and us. It was an amazing sight to see.
After a long rainy drive, we arrive at a foggy, wet, and humid Park. We didn’t stop and fill our cooler, due to running late. So, while the boys and I setup camp. Heather and Leo left to obtain some food. With camp set up and campfire KFC, we had our first welcome to the Park. A Park Attendant stopped by to make sure we made it safe and asked if we needed anything. It was still raining, but he brought us some extra wood for the night. He was gruff, think southern humor, I also call this miner-humor. Those raised with a Father who was a Miner knows what this means. He reminded me of a protective Daddy Bear that doesn’t take any lip.
With everyone tucked into bed, bellies full, and listening to peepers in the distance and rain against our tent, sleep came quickly. This weekend is supposed to be beautiful, and we are ready to experience Chief Logan State Park.
Saturday, this morning we awoke to a thick fog cover and the sun trying to burn it away. It was already extremely humid. Wanting to explore the Park, we needed to do some bike repair before we hit the road. After a few handle bar adjustments, seat adjustment, tube and brake repair, Leo and I headed toward the activities section of the Park. It was a pleasant ride down into the Park. We passed rabbits, squirrels, and a lot of deer. The deer didn’t care one bit we were there. Most of the time they would walk within 5 feet (1.5 m) of us. After exploring the pool, game court, and miniature golf area, Alex met up with me to tell me breakfast was ready. We rode back to the campsite for some family time food. After breakfast, we planned out our weekend. First, on the itinerary, we are going to play a round of miniature golf, swim at the pool, explore the park, and go to the museum. Tomorrow, we will take pictures, visit the wildlife exhibit, hike, pack up camp, swim, and take in one more game of miniature golf.
We rode our bikes to the miniature golf course and started our first hole when Leo erupted. He went into total melt down. Exploded! I placed him back in the bike carrier and rode him back to camp, realizing I forgot the key, riding back to the miniature golf course, then back again, I placed him in his car seat and headed back to the rest of the family. He was so tired and needed a nap, but was fighting it like a Spartan Soldier. The plan was now to let the middle and oldest children swim while I drive Leo around. Now, the oldest one wasn’t having it. There were now too many people in the pool, and he didn’t want to swim. If the oldest child didn’t want to swim, the middle child didn’t want to swim either. So, we loaded everyone up and did what we did Friday, drive.
We drove around every road in the Park and tried to make a new plan to salvage our day. With Leo well rested and a new plan in place, it was time to cut our losses and regroup. Heather and Zach started making lunch and watching Leo. Alex and I went to Wal-Mart to purchase Leo some water play items. We returned from the store with a kiddy pool and some toys, and it was time to have a little relaxing campsite picnic.
With the sun going down, still humid as can be. The boys rode their bikes, Leo playing in the pool, we had our second Park Attendant visit. It was the same guy as before with our second batch of wood. He asked how we were doing and I explained about our bust of a day. He suggested hitting the pool first thing. By noon it’s getting full, by 2, it’s packed due to two local parks closing their pools and the town of Logan closing theirs. He also said that the WV Division of Culture and History closed the Museum on Sunday so if we missed it today, we can’t do it tomorrow. He said, “State Legislation changed the schedule to where the Museum is closed on the Parks busiest day. Why? Because those who make decisions about the Museum don’t visit it or the Park. If they did, it would be open!” After a good conversation about work and family, he wished us well and hoped we enjoyed our stay and for better luck tomorrow.
Throughout the day we kept having a visitor, we never named the deer, but she kept getting closer and closer to the camp. Going on our second night, she was getting within 2 to 3 feet of us. Alex and Heather were both able to touch her, and Leo just thought it was a big puppy. We took some pictures of the deer and decided to play with long exposure shots since it was now dark. With it getting late and us having to start our day early, we headed to the showers then bed.
Sunday, this morning we awoke to our regular sticky humid day. But this time we had a much better plan. We jumped in the vehicle and headed straight to the museum. Yes, it was closed. But, we were able to take some beautiful pictures of the park and outside exhibits. Once arriving at the museum, we wanted to have a family portrait with the Chief Logan Memorial. Yesterday it was the youngest; now it’s the oldest. Today the oldest erupted, “I don’t feel like doing ANYTHING!” So, the rest of us started on our picture taking experience. We first visited an old farm house located in the Park. Located beside the museum, they have two monuments, one paying respect to Miner’s who have lost their lives helping build this Great Nation and one to the life of Chief Logan. Across a small bridge sits a massive steam engine used to carry coal from Logan to Steel Mills in Kentucky.
After a few pictures, we headed to the pool to relax. The pool was fantastic, big water slide, two diving boards, kiddy pool with fountain, snack area, and three different swimming areas. The kids loved it, heck, I loved it. This old man went flying down that water slide fast enough to flip over. The high dive, dang, I can make one heck of a splash. We played in the pool until it was Leo’s nap time and we were not going to make the same mistake twice. Heather and I packed him up and took him on a drive. Once he fell asleep, we took the opportunity to pack up camp. Heather and I loaded everything up while the other two swam. A Park Attendant stopped to see if we needed anything and if we liked our stay. I told him we loved it here and we were maybe going to try and get a hike in today. He said to be very careful due to it being Summer, and they have had ticks terrible this year. He said on his last hiking trip with his girlfriend; he picked 52 ticks off. So, we may not be going hiking. Once we finished packing, we went back to pick the oldest two up from the pool, but now they were having the time of their life and requested to stay longer. Even though the pool had more people swimming today than it did yesterday, it was okay now. So, we took Leo on another drive around the Park and explored around the fishing lake.
I read that Chief Logan State Park is one of the most visited Day-Use Parks in the State and we have been to a lot of Parks. I honestly did not believe this statement. But, after visiting, I do now. There are seven pavilions at the Park, and four different groups per pavilion rented them each day. Thousands of people each day were using the pavilions. It was unbelievable how many people were there to use the park for reunions, meetings, birthdays, weddings, pictures; it was just amazing to me how many people were there. If a pavilion wasn’t available, they just used their own canopies over picnic areas; it was crazy, but also very nice to see our Parks getting used for what they were intended.
Once getting the older two, we headed up to the Wildlife Exhibit to check out some WV-Native Animals. We started our journey with a very well educated young lady who explained everything about skull identification of native animals. We then headed toward the English Wild Hog Exhibit. Wild Hogs were not originally native to WV but was brought over by early English Settlers. Once hunted to extinction in the region, they have been repopulated for hunting. Passing the Bobcat Exhibit, which Zach now wants as a pet; we came across the Snake Exhibit. Copperheads, Timber Rattlers, and Black Snacks are on display. Leo was very fascinated with the Rattle Snakes. He would just point and say, DADDY! The Bird Exhibit currently houses a hawk and owl which leads to the Black Bear Exhibit. Leo looks at the Bears, with a finger pointing and his little legs running toward them as fast as possible, and he lets out a “ROARRR!” He was so excited to see them; we had to walk through the Exhibit twice before we could head home.
On our way home, we always like asking the kids how they felt about the trip, what was the best and worst, and what they would like better next time. So, here was their breakdown of this weekends experience of Chief Logan State Park.
For the best, the kids thought it was neat to see the animals in the Exhibit, but they felt sorry for them that they were caged up. They also loved having our camp fire fun with the kiddy pool, picnic, taking pictures of the Park, and obtaining their West Virginia Very Important Park Person (WVVIPP) stamp, which is located at the Park Head Quarters, and Number One, they loved the pool and could have stayed there all day. For the worst, it was humid, the Museum was closed, and they didn’t get to hike. To improve the trip, they wish we would have had one more day.
Now home and camping gear unloaded, we have had time to set back and recap our trip. We will differently be back to Chief Logan State Park. It is a beautiful park and with lots to do. We will plan better so that we can explore the Museum and hopefully during a time that the Liz Spurlock Amphitheater is hosting a performance. We would also love to take advantage of their trail system, which would be best in the Fall or early Spring, we are not fans of ticks. The kids enjoyed the trip thankfully due to the excellent pool. We loved it for its peacefulness, beauty, and providing us with memorable family time and experiences.
*Chief Logan State Park (CLSP)