In Aug. 14-20 issueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal ReporterABOVE: Teresa and Joe Simms relax with their daughter Rashe Wright and her husband Tommy and son Austin in the campground at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park. From Scott County, Ky., the men are Georgetown firemen.
STATE PARK - Families across the state have been hit hard recently by rising gas prices and a high cost of living, leaving many to make alternative vacation plans this summer, such as camping “staycations” around the Lake Cumberland area.
Joe and Teresa Simms along with Tommy and Rashe Wright and their 11-month-old son, Austin, all of Georgetown, decided to spend several days at the campground at the Lake Cumberland State Resort Park and take in the beautiful weather we’ve experienced over the past several days.
“It’s not too far to travel,” Simms said. “It is in a convenient location that’s just about two and a half hours from where we live.”
Simms also said he enjoyed the affordable prices of camping rather than more expensive outings.
It was Austin's first trip to the state park and his mother said the sights and sounds of the wooded camp area left him awestruck as he took in nature's every detail. He’s a fourth generation member of the family to camp at the park.
“My family brought me here when I was younger,” Teresa said. “And we passed on the tradition to our daughter (Rashe) and we always come down every summer.”
Now Rashe, along with her husband Tommy, are passing down the tradition as well.
Teresa said the trip to the campgrounds was a cheaper vacation than many people take, but with today’s harsh economic strain some time away in the woods around Lake Cumberland is the perfect chance to reconnect with family.
The family, who has been down to the park twice this summer to camp already, tends to stay from three days up to a week. Other members of the family come camping with them, too, if their schedule allows.
Teresa also celebrated a birthday while camping near Lake Cumberland.
“I told them all this is what I wanted for my birthday and I got it,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
While camping, the Simms and Wrights also enjoy many other lake-oriented activities.
“We enjoy the swimming pool, horseback riding and playing a lot of miniature golf,” Simms said. Both the Simms and the Wrights said they also enjoy shopping at various locations in Russell County.
“But most of the time we just take the boat out and stay on it all day,” Simms said.
Teresa said the family also liked to trout fish on the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam as well as visit the fish hatchery.
Simms, who, along with Tommy work with the Scott County Fire Department, said he also enjoys fly fishing on the river when he can.
“It takes some getting used to but it can be a lot of fun,” he said.
“Just being out here in the quiet and away from all the busy things back home, all the hustle and bustle, make it worthwhile,” Teresa said. The Simms urged everyone, even those who live near the lake, to take advantage of the area and respect Mother Nature.
“The scenery we have here is gorgeous,” she said.
Chuck Sweetser of Wilmore came with his wife and three children to the campground to vacation as well.
“We come down about two or three times a year, at least,” he said. “I like the wooded area and the clean facilities and we enjoy the events they do here.”
Sweetser was referring to events like pottery classes, youth archery classes, a pinewood derby, nature hikes, miniature golf tournament, live entertainment and Sunday worship services.
“We like to go swimming in the lake and fishing, too,” he said. “Yesterday we had three deer basically just come right up to us here, it was amazing.”
The Sweetsers plan to come back to the area to camp again in September.
That seems to be the trend nowadays as camping has become a favorite for families in search of an affordable getaway.
The park’s 146-site campground offers utility hookups, three central service buildings with showers and rest rooms, laundry facilities, two dump stations and a nearby grocery.
With summer slowly fading away as each day passes, campgrounds around the region are likely to begin lightening their load, which could make for some great, late-season weekend family time, even for Russell Countians.
Park Manager Eddie Moore said the campground's attendance was running similar to last year's numbers.
“We were full the 4th of July weekend and have been pretty normal this summer,” he said. “We had a good weekend this past weekend with the 127 Yard Sale with a lot of walk-in business.”
He said Lure Lodge was also full this past weekend.
“We even had five cars that paid as if they were tent users just so they could use the facility's shower,” he said.
Moore said the park had to turn away around 100 calls a day over the weekend for people looking for a place to stay.
“It was good business to be had if we could have done it,” he said. Moore said he expects the park to do some winter business in the coming months.
“With the work on Wolf Creek Dam we're anticipating our cottages and lodge rooms all to be full,” he said. “We'll also be upgrading our campground for long-term stays for people who may be working on the project.”
All Kentucky state park campsites can be occupied by a maximum of eight people.
Four adults, 17 years old and above, and children are included in the base price. If more than four adults are going to be on the site, an additional $5 per night per adult will be collected upon arrival at the park.
Quiet hours begin at 11 p.m. each night with check-out time at 1 p.m. on the day the permit expires.
The campgrounds at the state park close for the season on November 30 and will remain closed until mid-March of next year.
Prices vary due to the length of your stay as well as other factors. To contact Lake Cumberland State Resort Park about camping opportunities, call 270-343-3111.
At Indian Hills Resort KOA campground in Russell Springs, Susan Peck, the campground’s manager, said the grounds had seen more people camping this summer than last.
“We’re not back to where we were two years ago before the work on the dam started but we’re slowly progressing,” she said.
Peck said she, too, had seen many people from Kentucky and other nearby areas, come to camp this summer.
“We’re not seeing people from Cleveland and places like that,” she said. “These people live a lot closer.”
She attributed the down attendance numbers to high gas prices and not rehabilitation work on the dam sending out a bad message about the lake level.
“I say that because KOA numbers are down nationwide at campgrounds, not just here,” she said.
Peck said she expected to rebound by next summer and attain campground numbers more the norm.
“We hope to be back on par by then,” she said. “At least that’s what I’m hoping for anyway.”
Indians Hills KOA offers” primitive lakeside camping” with 16 lakeside campsites to use.
These campsites, located in the Wolf Creek Recreational Area, are complete with water, a shower house, picnic area, playground and beach swimming.
The KOA campground is open from mid-May through October 1 at a $25 per night rate.
Only one tent is allowed per campsite. To contact the Indian Hills Resort KOA campground, call 270-866-5616.