Sutton Lake covers 1440 acres. It is a beautiful lake, winding 14 miles along the Elk River, with many coves along its 40 miles of shoreline. The lake is 125 feet deep at the dam. Sutton Dam is located just above the Town of Sutton, 101 miles above the mouth of the Elk River in Charleston. It is a concrete-gravity structure 210 feet high, 1,178 feet long, and 195 feet wide at the base. It controls a 537 square mile drainage area, including the upper Elk River, and the Holly River. Sutton Dam was built primarily for flood control on the Elk, Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. During periods of flooding, water is stored behind the dam, frequently reducing the severity of flooding below the dam. It was completed in 1961 at a cost of $35 million. Flood damages have been reduced by more than $614 million dollars by flood control efforts at Sutton Dam. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains the dam and project recreation facilities. Restrooms are located at the Project Office and all recreation areas. For more information about Braxton County and area attractions, visit the Braxton County Visitor and Convention Bureau's web site.
Universally Accessible Facilities are provided at the Project Office, Bee Run Day Use Area, and Gerald R. Freeman Campground. Other facilities are generally accessible, but do not meet the strict accessibility guidelines.
The Town of Sutton is the county seat of Braxton County, near the geographic center of West Virginia. Braxton County was formed from Nicholas, Lewis and Kanawha Counties in 1836 and was named in honor of Carter Braxton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The town was named for John D. Sutton, who owned most of the land where the town is located, including the log house which held the first county court. The first inhabitants of the territory that now embraces Braxton County were the Carpenters. Four of the Carpenter brothers had been in the Revolutionary Army. They settled at the mouth of Holly River about 1790. Benjamin, the youngest brother, and his wife were murdered by Indians in 1792. It was reportedly the last Indian raid in central West Virginia. Adam O’Brien, Indian scout and hunter, helped to make the first survey of land in the territory in the summer of 1784. The survey began at a poplar tree standing in the low gap at the head of Grannys Creek. This land included the territory upon which Sutton and Gassaway now stand, and extended for several miles down Elk River. The Sutton Lake project was authorized by Congress in the Flood Control Act of 1938. Construction began in October 1949, but was interrupted by the Korean War. Work restarted in 1956 and in the dam was finally completed in 1961.
Bicycles are permitted on main roads and campground areas. Contact a Park Attendant or Ranger for the location of areas conducive to off-road bicycling. Special regulations must be observed on the DNR leased areas of the project. These regulations can be found by clicking on the link Biking Sutton. Under West Virginia law, all riders under the age of 15 years MUST wear a protective helmet.
Launch ramps for the boating enthusiasts and fishermen are located at Bee Run Day Use Area, Bakers Run campground, Gerald R. Freeman campground, and the South Abutment Day Use Area, behind the Dam. Specific boating and other rules and regulations are available at the marina or the Corps office at the dam. There is a $3.00 Day Use fee for boat launching. Frequent boat launchers may purchase an Annual Day Use Pass at the Project Office. Golden Age Passports, Golden Access Passports, and America the Beautiful Passes may be used for a 50% discount at all Federally operated areas where a fee is charged. Passes are honored, but not issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additional information on the discount pass program may be obtained by clicking on the link America the Beautiful Passes .
Campsites at Sutton Lake are available at Gerald R. Freeman Campground, Bakers Run Campground, and Bee Run Campground. Gerald R. Freeman Campground, with 159 sites, and Bakers Run Campground, with 79 sites, are Class A areas, with heated shower houses, dump stations, water fountains, playgrounds, boat launch ramps, and some electric hook-ups. Gerald R. Freeman Campground also has a small marina. Sites are usually available on a first - come first - serve basis. Gerald R. Freeman Campground does accept reservations. Reservations can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or by clicking on the link Gerald R. Freeman Camp. Bee Run Campground is a primitive area, with limited facilities. Gerald R. Freeman and Bee Run Campgrounds open in late May and close after deer season, in early December. Baker's Run Campground opens in late May and closes in mid to late October. Shoreline camping is not permitted. Information on the discount pass policy may be obtained by clicking on the link America the Beautiful Passes .
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.
Fishermen find bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish plentiful in the lake. The Elk River below the dam is well known for muskie and walleye fishing, and trout are stocked in the Down Stream Area in the spring and fall. A handicap accessible fishing pier has been constructed at the Downstream Area to offer easier access to the quality fishing below the dam. Of course, you do not have to be a fisherman to enjoy the natural beauty on and around Sutton Lake. Sportsmen are required to have a West Virginia hunting and/or fishing license. Additional information on West Virginia's fishing laws can be obtained from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources at P.O. Box 38, French Creek, WV, 26218.
Fire roads and hunter trails provide foot access to many remote areas around Sutton Lake and the Elk River Wildlife Management Area.
Horseback riding is permitted in non-recreation areas on the project. Within the areas leased by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, there are special regulations on horseback riding. These special rules and regulations can be viewed by visiting the WMA Rules and Regulations page.
The Corps of Engineers owns more than 12,000 acres, of which, 10,235 acres are leased to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. This property combined with the state owned 6,949 acres of the Elk River Wildlife Management Area, constitutes nearly 18,000 acres of public hunting lands. The terrain is diverse and so large, it is managed in two sections, the Elk and Holly sections. The Elk River section is primarily made up of steep hills, ridges, and benches. The Holly River section is on the north side of the lake and consists of forested hills and open farmlands. Game animals found at Sutton Lake include deer, turkey, squirrel, ruffed grouse, Canadian geese, and other water fowl. Hunters are required to have a West Virginia hunting license. Additional information for hunting at Sutton Lake may be obtained by clicking on the DNR link, or by mailing West Virginia Division of Natural Resources at P.O. Box 38, French Creek, WV, 26218.
There are two marinas at Sutton Lake that are privately operated under leases from the Corps. Facilities for boat launching are available at the dam, Bee Run, Bakers Run Campground and Gerald R. Freeman Campground. There is a $3.00 Day Use fee for boat launching.
Picnic sites are available in all recreation areas. There are five picnic shelters in the Day Use Areas at Sutton Lake. Two shelters are located in the Downstream Day Use Area, two in the Bee Run Day Use Area, and one is located at the South Abutment Day Use Area. Shelters are available on a first-come-first-serve basis unless reserved. Shelters may be reserved in advance for a fee by calling 1-877-444-6777 or clicking on Sutton Shelters.
Swimming beaches are located at the South Abutment and Bee Run Day Use Areas. No lifeguards are provided. Swim at your own risk.
There is a small Visitor Information Center at the Project Office.