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Exploring Kentucky: Go Glamping!

Comfy camping in the great outdoors

By Katherine Tandy Brown

I’ve always envied people who grew up in camping families. As mine was not one of those, my memories of “roughing it” include encountering a copperhead at a Girl Scout campout, dabbing clear nail polish on 65 chigger bites after a college outdoor overnight, and shivering through an icy shower in a waterfall during a December stay in Red River Gorge in my early 20s with a knowledgeable-about-the-outdoors boyfriend. But after that frigid adventure, I knew I’d never rough it again.

These days, you don’t have to endure the tough parts of sleeping outside under the stars any more. You can glamp. Think upscale, boutique camping…glamorous camping, i.e. glamping. Reveling in an outdoor experience without the hassles, where luxury and simplicity morph to provide you, the glamper, with a top-class vacation from which you may even return rested.

According to Ruben Martinez, co-founder of the website Glamping Hub (glampinghub.com), the typical folks that seek out his site are those who love the outdoors, “but they just don’t like the fact that they have to put up their own tent, or smell like a campfire, or eat hot dogs.” Check, check and check!

GH is a booking platform for nontraditional accommodations and a resource for sustainable tourism, offering access to more than 26,000 properties in 121 countries. There are some 30 different types of lodgings, ranging from beautifully crafted treehouses, exotic castles and safari tents to floating homes, tiny houses and private islands. A GH rep explains, “We look for accommodations and hosts that make guests excited to explore the outdoors.”

If you’ve never glamped, the following is an overview of several Kentucky properties and a bit about their offerings.

Set on 650 acres of stunning western Kentucky farmland, this pet-friendly log cabin near Crofton (http://bit.ly/3taJ0t0) has a swimming pool and offers easy driving access to some of Mother Nature’s finer outdoor playgrounds. Surrounded by Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, Lake Beshear is noted for superb bass fishing. Near the Kentucky Trail Town of Dawson Springs, the Jones-Keeney Wildlife Management Area enchants hikers with a massive cave and a 70-foot waterfall. And at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, guests can rent boats, fish, hike, bike, ride horseback, visit a planetarium, witness living Kentucky farmstead history, and safely observe elk and buffalo.
About an hour from downtown Nashville, this cozy cabin can sleep seven and has a private kitchen, grill and deck. Adventure-seekers can check out dive training in a 22-acre former limestone quarry with clear spring-fed water at Pennyroyal Scuba Blue Springs Resort in nearby Hopkinsville.

Surrounded by paddocks and barns, this elegant 1835 mansion sleeps 14 in seven bedrooms on an historic, well-manicured, 700-acre Oldham County horse farm in the Louisville area (http://bit.ly/2N7Xz0T). Ideal for experiencing a Kentucky Derby weekend with friends, a special family reunion or a luxury corporate retreat, the dwelling features original artwork, fireplaces, a chef’s kitchen and a dining table for 20. Activities nearby include bourbon tours, horse-farm tours and historic train rides. For an additional charge you can hire a luxury SUV and driver for the weekend.

Swap a tent for a treetop cabin with this intriguing Germantown treehouse (http://bit.ly/3rIgIWc) that offers private access to 200 acres of stunning views, guided tree climbs and themed trails, including a kids’ trail with 10 hidden Hobbit houses for the little ones to discover. There’s electricity but no running water; a kitchenette has a three-gallon water tank and there’s a composting toilet. The treehouse features three stoves—one wood-burning, one propane gas and an outdoor stove for al fresco dining—plus full access to a bath house with running water and a shower, sink and toilet. Two adults and two children—three if they’re small—can stay comfortably.

Mt. Sterling
If a peaceful getaway is your goal, a four-person cabin with a fully equipped kitchen near Mt. Sterling (http://bit.ly/30yssyy) will fill the bill for a small group, couple or family. Guests can kick back in porch chairs overlooking a five-acre pond or enjoy the view from a stunning-yet-comfy living room with expansive windows and a warming fireplace. Guests with get-up-and-go can paddleboard, canoe, kayak and swim, or take a host-led tour of honeybee hives, then gather ‘round a fire pit for s’mores and stargazing. Nearby natural attractions include Red River Gorge, known for some of the best rock climbing in the country, miles of hiking trails and spectacular sandstone arches.

Located on a 240-acre, working cattle farm crisscrossed by Northern Kentucky hiking trails, this secluded, expertly restored 1850 Gothic Revival cottage is on the meandering Kentucky River near Owenton (http://bit.ly/319DOto). With accommodations for up to 12, the pretty National Historic Register property is ideal for corporate retreat participants and outdoor-focused groups that can sign up for fishing or chartered bow-fishing, kayaking or guided hunting excursions. Cottage amenities include a gourmet eat-in kitchen with a fireplace, small cabin with a queen-sized bed, two outdoor cooking spots and a large pavilion.

Near Columbia (http://bit.ly/3cgntJI), this lakefront cabin for four guests is set on 1,000 private acres and is alive with natural light, plus a loft bedroom and a wood-burning stove. A spacious wraparound porch with swings showcases stunning water views. Guests can revel in shady woods, gently flowing streams and bird and wildlife watching. The proximity of Green River Lake and the Cumberland River provides access to water sports, while those seeking more urban pursuits can drive to Nashville to explore Music City for a day. Local restaurants can deliver!

On the border of the Daniel Boone National Forest, a spacious country vacation rental for 10 in McKee (http://bit.ly/3t31xr4) is perfect for a family reunion, weekend getaway or a corporate retreat in the rolling Appalachian hills of southeast Kentucky. The property’s farm caringly raises beef cattle and chickens. A short drive away, Triple R Ranch hosts day-long horseback rides and overnight pack trips, complete with fishing, Dutch oven cooking and hiking.

Katherine Tandy Brown is a correspondent
for The Lane Report. She can be reached
at [email protected].