This project was called the Justice Reservoir, during the planning stages. In 1965, Congress changed the name in honor of the late Judge R.D. Bailey, a lawyer, state senator, prosecuting attorney, and a leader in Wyoming County education. Judge Bailey also was circuit judge of Wyoming and Mingo counties during the bloody coal mine wars of the 1920's.The Guyandotte River has a history of significant flooding about every two years –causing death and property damage. Population centers (Justice, Gilbert, Man and especially Logan) were hard hit. Damages caused by the record 1963 flood totaled $8 million in the Logan area alone. All the rain that runs into the Guyandotte, upstream of the dam, flows into the lake (called 'inflow'). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers controls the amount of water released from the lake ('outflow') by operating a set of gates in the 310 – foot-high 'control' tower. The lake catches runoff from a 540 square mile drainage area. When storing floodwater, the lake could rise a maximum of 120 feet above summer level. If that ever occurs, water would begin flowing through the 300 foot wide 'emergency spillway' cut through the mountain beside the dam. Under maximum storage conditions, the seven-mile lake would increase to 22 miles and would contain 66 billion gallons of water. The lake level is lowered in the fall and winter to allow for additional storage of floodwater. R.D. Bailey is a unit in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Ohio River basin flood control system. All dams work together to help reduce flood crests along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The 19,000-acre R.D. Bailey Lake project is located in the rugged Appalachian Mountains. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed the project to reduce flood damage along the Guyandotte and Ohio Rivers. Authorized by Congress in the Federal Flood Control Act of 1962, the lake also provides downstream water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and many recreation opportunities. The dam is on the Guyandotte River near the southwestern West Virginia town of Justice. The lake is in Wyoming County. Work on the dam began in 1974; construction began in 1967 and was completed in 1980. The entire project cost of $180 million was spent on relocations, planning and engineering, purchase of real estate, and construction. Through the first eight years of its operation, the dam prevented $59 million worth of flood damages. In time, the dam's benefits will exceed its costs. Engineers call this type of structure a 'rockfill' dam. It is a carefully designed mound of closely compacted rock. A layer of steel-reinforced concrete was placed on the upstream face (on the lakeside) to reduce seepage through the rock. R.D. Bailey was the first concrete-faced dam built by the Corps of Engineers. Such a massive structure requires an enormous amount of materials and manpower. There are 5.7 million cubic yards of rock, 6.4 million pounds of steel, and 240,000 bags of cement in R.D. Bailey Dam. Restrooms are located at the Project Office, Guyandotte Point Boat Ramp and Marina, the Big Branch Day Use Area, and the Guyandotte Campground.
Universally Accessible Facilities are provided at the Project Office, Guyandotte Campground, Guyandotte Point Recreation Area, and the Big Branch Day Use Area.
Bicycles are permitted on main roads, trails, and campground areas. Contact a Ranger for the location of areas conducive to off-road bicycling. Under West Virginia law, all riders under the age of 14 years MUST wear a protective helmet.
Facilities for boat launching are available at the Guyandotte Point Recreation Area. We offer a three (3) lane launch ramp with a lighted parking area for security. For more information please contact the project office at 304-664-3229.
Spread along a scenic six mile stretch of the Guyandotte River, the campground is divided into two segments, each with restrooms/showers, playgrounds, and nearby trailer dump stations. A boat launch ramp is available for campers. All recreational facilities are universally accessible. Camping at R.D. Bailey Lake is restricted to developed camping areas only – there is no random camping. The use of vehicles off authorized roadways is also prohibited. The campgrounds are fee areas, with 94 sites. All sites have electrical hookup and have recently been upgraded to 50 amp service.
See policy on the use of Assistive Mobility Devices within our campground(s), as posted on the main page of this website under the Recreation button, or by contacting the lake office or campground for more information.
Fishing has been excellent for largemouth, smallmouth and striped bass; walleye, tiger muskie, channel catfish, crappie and panfish since the lake was formed in 1980. West Virginia fishing licenses are required. Easy-to-reach fishing spots are located at the Guyandotte Point Recreation Area, Big Branch Day Use Area, and Below Dam Fisherman's Access.
Foot trails (Hiking) are located at the Salt River and Justice Trails.
Horseback riding is not permitted.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages 17,180 acres of the 19,000 acre project for Wildlife Management purposes providing opportunities for the hunting enthusiast to harvest small game such as squirrels, rabbits, grouse, and turkey. An abundant of oak, hickory, and beech make up the steep mountains and deep ravines offering a challenging hunt for any seasoned hunter. The WMA at R.D. Bailey is also nestled in part of Wyoming and Mingo Counties which offers archery only hunting for white-tailed deer. These two counties along with the bordering counties of Logan and McDowell give the opportunity to harvest older age deer. For more information contact Wildlife Manager at Travis.L.Cramer@wv.gov for hunting regulations contact the WV DNR at www.wvdnr.gov
Below are maps of popular hunting locations within the R.D. Bailey Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The red boundary lines on each map represent estimated boundary lines.
Currently, R.D. Bailey Lake does not have a marina. However, the Guyandotte Point Recreation Area is open for boat launching, picniking, and shoreline fishing. The Recreation Area is open from mid April thru Mid October. When the area is closed boaters may use the winter launch ramp. This one lane ramp can be access through the Below Dam Recreation Area/Fisherman's Access.
If you are interested in inquiring about how to place a Marina at the lake contact the project office at 304-664-3229.
Picnic shelters are located at the Big Branch Day Use Area, Guyandotte Point Recreation Area, and the Visitor Center / Overlook. All shelters are available on a first come - first served basis EXCEPT WHEN RESERVED IN ADVANCE (a fee is required for reserving a shelter). Picnic shelters may be reserved by calling the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) at 877-444-6777 (toll-free) or visit us on the web at http:// www.recreation.gov or click here for a direct link. Picnic tables are availabe at all recreation areas on the R.D. Bailey Lake project.
No developed swimming facilities currently exist.
The Visitor's Center is perched 365 feet above the lake providing a breathtaking view of the dam, lake and surrounding forest. Viewing telescopes are mounted on the observation deck. Visitor center exhibits show opportunities available at the lake and provide a better understanding of the project. Tours are available of the dam and intake structure.