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Wagon train adventure

Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort offers unique covered wagons lodging and much more

Full-size Conestoga covered wagons with inside amenities for lodging are available at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort near Cumberland Falls State Park in Whitley County, Kentucky. Photo: Tim Webb
Six covered wagons are set up in a Old West-style wagon circle, with a central fire ring where guests can gather to talk, stargaze and roast s’mores. Photo: Tim Webb
Sisters Jewell Lewis, Dolores Biles and Martha Burchett, all of Louisville, were among the first to stay in Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resorts' covered wagons in April 2018. Photo: Dolores Biles
Jewell Lewis, Dolores Biles and Martha Burchett, all of Louisville, enjoy their sister weekend celebrating Dolores' retirement at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resorts by staying in a covered wagon, April 2018. Photo: Dolores Biles
Terry and Rebecca Brown of Chandler, Indiana, enjoy their stay in a covered wagon last summer at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort near Corbin, Kentucky. Photo: Tim Webb
Each Conestoga wagon at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort sleeps six and offers many amenities to guests such as Terry and Rebecca Brown of Chandler, Indiana. Photo: Tim Webb
Taylor Lickliter, left, and Caitlyn Williams, both of Corbin, Kentucky, check out the covered wagons that were added last year at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort. Photo: Tim Webb
Each wagon has its own picnic area and table, where Caitlyn Williams, left, and Taylor Lickliter chat, along with charcoal grill and a bundle of firewood. Photo: Tim Webb
Adults can chat while kids enjoy exploring their unique covered wagon lodging at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort, near Corbin, Kentucky. Photo: Tim Webb
Sleeping and playing in an Old West-style covered wagon is a kid's dream come true, as evidenced by Katie Egedi and Daniel Thelen, at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort. Photo: Tim Webb

Experience the Old West—stay overnight in one of six Conestoga wagons set up in an old-fashioned wagon circle. “It’s a fun and unique experience that you will remember for years,” says Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort’s co-owner Dania Egedi, which is located near Corbin, Kentucky.

The oversized wagons sleep six and come with a king-size bed, trundle and twin bunk beds, along with heat and air conditioning, a small refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave. Each wagon has its own picnic area and table, charcoal grill and comes with a bundle of firewood for each night’s stay. And, for those who can’t bear to leave their electronics at home, there are outlets near the king and bunk beds for convenient phone charging.

The Octoloo, a set of eight restrooms, is very close to the wagons. Also on site are two bathhouses, with hot showers and flush toilets, and one with a laundry room and book exchange.

“All the amenities the pioneers didn’t have!” says Egedi.

Reservations are similar to other lodging: check-in is any time after 3 p.m. with check-out by 11 a.m. “Each covered wagon comes with its own combination lock, so late check-ins are not a problem,” Egedi says—“just be sure to bring a flashlight so you can see the numbers!”

During the day there is plenty to keep families busy at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort, from whitewater rafting, canoeing or kayaking, the zip line, hiking wooded trails to waterfalls, or taking a leisurely cruise on a riverboat through unspoiled forests. Or, guests can just hang back and do casual sightseeing.

Egedi suggests at night, “Make s’mores with your neighbor at the central fire ring, grill out under the stars or listen to your kids playing through the open-screen window as you curl up inside and read.”

Sister weekend in a covered wagon

Newly retired Dolores Biles along with her two sisters, Jewell Lewis and Martha Burchett, all of Louisville, were among the first to stay in the covered wagons last April. The sisters, who are big into country and horseback riding, were looking for something different for their twice-a-year sister weekend.

“When we saw they had covered wagons, we thought it would be really cool to do what the pioneers used to do,” Biles says. “Somewhere where we could sit back, play Scrabble—not the online version—or read a book.”

She exclaims: “It was great! It exceeded our expectations. I wasn’t sure what to expect, how large it would be. … From what you see in Western movies, they aren’t very large. My expectations were to be cramped, but we were not at all.”

Biles suggests you may want to be a little careful when changing clothes inside the lighted wagons if you are up against the canvas.

Biles and her sisters, who stayed two nights in a Sheltowee Trace covered wagon, took day trips to Cumberland Falls, and visited antique and arts and crafts shops in town (Corbin). At night they enjoyed sitting around the fire ring talking with each other, and with other guests the second night. “We just sat around and talked to a couple who were there on their anniversary, but with the kids. It was really enjoyable.”

In addition to covered wagons, Sheltowee Trace offers resort and rustic cabins, RV sites and tent camping.

Water adventures at Sheltowee Trace

A family-owned business in its 36th year and served by Cumberland Valley RECC, Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort is run by Dania and dad Rick “Smurff” Egedi, with a staff of 60 during the summer. All trips run rain or shine.

“Mostly we see people looking to enjoy being out in nature in some way, shape or form. Some people are looking for adventure and some aren’t.  We try to have something for everyone,” says Egedi.

“The whitewater rafting below Cumberland Falls—it is a great family/beginner trip,” says Egedi. “Canoeing or kayaking on the Cumberland River is close behind, with the half-day trips being the most popular.”

The trip that has seen the biggest increase in recent years, Egedi says, is the Rainbow Mist ride. She describes it as “ a family-oriented trip—even for babies—for 30-45 minutes on a large raft, where a guide paddles you from the beach below Cumberland Falls up into the mist.”

Also for all ages is a two to two and half-hour lunch cruise on Lake Cumberland aboard the 65-foot, double-decker Cumberland Star, which departs from the Laurel Lake boat ramp mid-May through October.

Egedi says, “You can sit back and relax as you cruise through unspoiled forests as you watch riverbanks glide by and try to spot blue herons, turtles and other wildlife.”

Other adventures for the entire family include tubing on the Big South Fork or SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) rentals on Laurel Lake. Egedi suggests, “You can also relax by the pond and read while the kids rent SUPs or Corcls (a round boat that kids can paddle) on the pond and wear themselves out!”

Canoeing, kayaking and rafting

Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort offers a variety of canoeing and kayaking trips, from one to four hours, on the Cumberland or Big South Fork rivers.  “The 5-mile, 1/2-day Ballard Ford trip is the most popular,” says Egedi.

Spring rafting is on the Big South Fork River, with the Class IV intermediate Gorge trip for the more adventurous types (minimum age 13), or the Class III family/beginner Canyon trip for the slightly less adventurous groups or those with younger children (minimum age 7).

The summer Cumberland Below the Falls whitewater rafting, which runs mid-May through October, is well suited for families/beginners (minimum age 6) Egedi says. You’re guaranteed to get wet on this all-day, fully guided trip. After putting in just below Cumberland Falls and getting an up-close view from the bottom of the falls, you’ll head downstream through Class III rapids. Later, board the Cumberland Star riverboat for a buffet lunch while cruising to the take-out point.

For people looking for a bit more summer adventure, duckies are available.  “A duckie is an inflatable boat like a raft, but holds one person so there is no guide in the boat with you,” describes Egedi. “The raft guides are around to help out.”

Looking for a more exciting and independent trip? Egedi says the Big South Fork Bear Creek to Blue Heron 5-mile unguided duckie trip—Class II rapids culminating in the Class III Devil’s Jump—might be the way to go.

For those with their own boats and equipment, Sheltowee Trace provides shuttles for put-in and take-out. If you are planning a multi-day hike, Sheltowee Trace provides shuttle services for that as well.

Land adventures at Sheltowee Trace

When you and your kids tire of the water, there’s more to do on land at Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort, from a 650-foot Big Zipper zip line or the 185-foot Little Zipper to a 20-foot tall tree-trunk shaped climbing wall.

Bike rentals include pedal go-carts and three-wheel recumbent bikes, great for ages 3 and up. Fun and educational kids’ campground activities are offered in the summer, usually on weekends.

Sheltowee Trace has a Naturescapes playground and a horseshoe pit. Egedi says they have plans to put in a gaga ball pit—an octagon-shaped pit for playing a fast-paced game like dodge ball but uses a foam ball.

Their White Dog Snack Bar serves breakfast, lunch and early dinner, with box lunches, or catering for groups of 15 or more. A retail store offers souvenirs plus all the small things you might need while on your trip, and of course, firewood and all the fixings for s’mores.

Recreational areas near Sheltowee Trace

Located in southeastern Kentucky just 5 miles from Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort is conveniently located near the Big South National River & Recreation Area, Laurel Lake and the Daniel Boone National Forest.

In addition to all the things that Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort has to offer, Egedi says Cumberland Falls and the Big South Fork areas team with activities for outdoor-oriented travelers. “Hike into a waterfall or rock arch (at Cumberland Falls), ride the Big South Fork Scenic Railway or take a scenic drive. Take a short drive into Corbin to try out one of the many locally-owned restaurants.”

For more information

Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort
2001 Hwy 90, Corbin, KY 40701  
(800) 541-7238 or (606) 526-7238
www.ky-rafting.com

Dress accordingly for all rafting, canoeing and kayaking trips. You will get splashed even if your boat does not turn over. Rafts are self-bailing, so your feet will be wet all day.

The resort is easily accessible off of I-75 at Corbin (Exit 25) and Williamsburg (Exit 15).

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