It had to be number four. No other wigwam would do.
For years, Anita Carroll, branch librarian at the Kenton County Public Library, dreamed of staying at Wigwam Village 2 in Cave City--ever since the day fate put into her hands a copy of the 1984 book, The Well-Built Elephant and Other Roadside Attractions: A Tribute to American Eccentricity by J.J.C. Andrews.
Years later, Carroll was able to make a speedy pit stop at the village on her way home from a conference and snapped up a souvenir: a handmade wigwam with the number four (her lucky number) emblazoned on it in red. The avid traveler, who has camped in 40 states, still recalls her reaction on seeing Wigwam Village 2.
"It had just rained and the grass was so green. The tepees were so white. I almost cried because I was seeing them in person."
Finally, in the fall of 1999, Carroll's dream was realized when she and her husband, Dennis, stayed in Wigwam #4 en route to Mammoth Cave.
Anchored by a 60-foot-tall office and arranged in a half-circle around a playground and misting deck, the complex was on Carroll's short list of "must see before I die" places.
Newly renovated, each of its 15 stone-and-concrete tepee-shaped structures have one or two double beds, a private bath, and rustic hickory and cane furnishings that are original to the 1930s when Frank Redford realized his own dream: building and patenting authentic tepees replicating those he had seen on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota.
Wigwam Village 2 is not alone in offering campers a unique overnight experience. Judy Mullins, tourism director of the Grant County Tourism Commission, considers the 125-acre Three Springs Campground in Corinth a hidden gem, geographically and otherwise.
The mom-and-pop camping complex, which includes motel suites, campground, and a diner serving homemade victuals, is owned by Dan Sparrow and his wife, Patricia Ricketts Sparrow.
"From Interstate 75, you can drive down the valley to a dead-end road and look in any direction and see campground property at the top of every hill. It looks like a national forest," says Dan.
There are hiking and horse trails, with horse and pony rides in the summer, a small fishing pond, renovated 9-foot-deep swimming pool, and a refurbished recreation center that seats 125, plus two rustic cabins that Sparrow built, 25 improved sites for RV camping along a stream, and 25 primitive tent sites.
"A lot of campgrounds are bumper-to-bumper with campers," says Mullins. "Here, you can spread out. There are some very private coves for tent camping."
Like Wigwam Village 2, Three Springs Campground is also historic in nature: because of the natural springs in the area, the campground purportedly drew Civil War soldiers to the site. Rare mid-19th century, horizontally designed fences dot the campground area.
Wigwam Village 2
601 North Dixie Hwy.
Cave City, KY 42127
Three Springs Campground
Three Springs Suites
1550 Owenton Road
Corinth, KY 41010
(859) 806-3030 or (859) 948-4050
Other unique camping sites
DH Resort in Hillsboro is an adventure at full gallop. The 1,200-acre spread, owned by Stephen and Charlotte Harris Dobson and located just north of Morehead, encompasses lakes and streams, mountain and valley views, hardwood forests and wildlife, playgrounds and picnic areas, and more than two dozen horses.
"You can bring your own horse or ride one of ours," says Stephen.
Campers choose one-, two-, or three-day adventures, all based around horses, that include breakfast with a guide, preparing your horse (with supervision), and plenty of horseback riding. Ranch activities include roping, a bucking barrel--a poor man's mechanical bull that kids love--swimming pool, and water sports on the 22-acre lake.
Accommodations are in furnished and unfurnished camping cabins, a bunkhouse, RV hookups, and tent sites. There is also a five-bedroom bed and breakfast. A horse camp, a dude ranch, a recreational resort--call it what you will, the Dobsons' horse riding resort will tap into your inner cowpoke.
For more information, go online to www.dhresorts.com or or call (800) 737-7433.
Oak Harbor Resort, owned by David and Peggy Oak, located in Grant County, is a tranquil getaway on Lake Williamstown with four rental cabins, including an A-frame, plus sandy beach and free pontoon rides each evening for campground guests. Like Three Springs Campground, this resort's uniqueness lies in the fact that so few know of its existence.
"This is a place that few locals have even heard about," says Judy Mullins. "It's one of the best-kept secrets around. You can only see it if you're on a boat cruising around the lake."
For more information, call (859) 824-6446.
Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
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Historically, Kentucky is not a state you think of when planning a golf vacation. Over the years, golfers have thought of the more Southern states when it comes to playing golf on quality courses.
That thought process may be about to change.
There are first-rate golf courses across the state, and what makes it even better is they offer a great value. It is common for golf courses throughout the country to charge in excess of $100 for greens fees, with several topping $200. But in Kentucky, there's a lot of golf that can be played on quality courses, many of which have been recognized by Golf Digest magazine, at more affordable prices.
According to the Kentucky Golf Association, some 500,000 people in the state play at least 15 rounds of golf annually. There are 79 public courses throughout the state, 11 resort courses, and another 53 courses classified as semi-public. This doesn't include private/country club courses.
With national golf publications now recognizing Kentucky's courses, it is a major step in validating the quality of public golf layouts in the state.
Kentucky state parks have done their share in providing quality golf for residents and visitors alike. They are now marketing a Signature Series, six of the better courses located in western, eastern, south-central, and southeastern Kentucky. Golfers can pretty much take a weeklong state tour and play a different course every day.
Kentucky state parks also offer a Tees & Zees golf package that includes greens fees, cart, and overnight accommodations at one of their resort parks.
"With all of the good national publicity, golfers are beginning to discover Kentucky for golf," offers George Ward, Kentucky's Commerce secretary, who also serves as the state's commissioner of parks. "Golfers from the north can be in Kentucky and already have played 18 by the time they could reach Myrtle Beach."
Hidden Cave Golf Course at Grayson Lake State Park near Olive Hill received a 2005 number-six state ranking by Golf Digest. In 2004, it ranked fourth nationally as the best new affordable public course.
The course at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort near Burkesville ranked eighth in Kentucky in 2005.
But it's the course at Yatesville Lake State Park near Louisa, Eagle Ridge, that has Ward glowing.
"Its number-three national ranking last year as the best new affordable public course is the highest ranking any of our courses have ever received," he says.
As good as these golf courses are, there are others across the state that have also received national recognition and are considered among Kentucky's best public courses. These include: Kearney Hills in Lexington, Lafayette Golf Club at Falls of Rough, Lassing Pointe in Union, Mineral Mound State Park in Eddyville, Old Silo in Mt. Sterling, StoneCrest in Prestonsburg, Wasioto Winds at Pine Mountain State Park at Pineville, and Gibson Bay in Richmond.
Dale Hollow Lake State Resort
6371 State Park Road, Burkesville
The number eight, par-5 features greens framed by a waterfall and small cave, and number 15, par-3 plays over a gorge. Greens fees: $37.75 with cart weekdays and $42.75 on weekends or holidays.
1303 Berea Road, Richmond
Bent grass fairways, 33 bunkers and water hazards, lighted driving range. Greens fees: $24 with cart weekdays and $30 on weekends.
Grayson Lake State Park Hidden Cave
314 Grayson Lake State Park Road, Olive Hill
The course encircles Grayson Lake. The number nine, par-5 is 647 yards and flanked by five fairway bunkers. Greens fees: $37.75 with cart weekdays and $42.75 weekends.
3403 Kearney Road, Lexington
Greens fees: $34 with cart every day.
Lafayette Golf Club at Falls of Rough
57 Jenny Green Road, Falls of Rough
Greens fees: $35 with cart weekdays and $45 with cart weekends. A Golf Digest number-two ranking in Kentucky.
2266 Double Eagle Drive, Union
A Golf Digest top-50 course under $50. Greens fees: $29 with cart 7 days a week.
Mineral Mound State Park
50 Finch Lane, Eddyville
The front nine is in a wooded area, while the back nine offers Lake Barkley views. Greens fees: $32.75 with cart weekdays and $37.75 with cart weekends.
350 Silver Lake Drive, Mt. Sterling
Another Golf Digest top-50 for under $50. A picturesque silo ties it all together. Greens fees: $45 with cart. Other prices for different times of day.
918 Clubhouse Drive, Prestonsburg
You get the feeling you're playing golf in the clouds. Incredible views. Greens fees: $40 with cart weekends and $30 with cart weekdays.
Wasioto Winds Pine Mountain State Park
1050 State Park Road, Pineville
A links-style course with meandering streams. Greens fees: $37.75 with cart weekdays and $42.75 with cart weekends.
Yatesville Lake State Park, Eagle Ridge
KY Highway 1185, Louisa
Greens fees: $32.75 with cart weekdays and $42.75 with cart weekends. Steep hills offer exciting play on this par-71, 6,630-yard layout.
Other outstanding public courses
Kentucky Dam Village Resort Park at Gilbertsville
The Bull at Boone Trace in Richmond
Miller Golf Course in Murray
Pennyrile Forest State Resort at Dawson Springs
Cherry Blossom in Georgetown
Seneca in Louisville
Eagle Trace in Morehead
Quail Chase in Louisville
Arrowhead in Cadiz
Summit in Owensboro
Senior fees are available at many of the above courses.
Gary P. West is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
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