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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dale Hollow Lake Reservoir in Kentucky/Tennessee - Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park

September 2016, Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park, Weekday, 2-nights, Campsite L005

View of reservoir from the lodge

Reservations and arrival

We made an advance reservation at Dale Hollow State Resort Park online. The rate was reasonable, and we got a AAA discount. There are photos of most of the campsites online, although I thought it was difficult to choose a site before we actually arrived at the park and saw the entire layout. You can find more campsite and park photos in the Dale Hollow Facebook album.

We stopped at the IGA in Burkesville after arriving on KY-90 from the west. We were able to get some supplies at the IGA, although food selection was limited. Before we entered the store, I had observed a Dale Hollow State Park sign across from the store, directing us to KY-61. Our GPS was telling us to go to the next road, Hwy-49, so I asked the cashier which route was best. She said KY-61 has less curves. We took KY-61 to the park, and there are many curves on this route. Looking at the map overview afterward, there are just as many curves on this route as on Hwy-49. We should have followed our GPS, because taking KY-61 was over two miles longer. A measly two miles does make a difference when you are towing something on skinny roads through curves at slow speeds.

We arrived on a Monday, and the camp store/registration office was not open. The sign on the door said it is closed on Mondays. I assume the sign pertained to off-season hours. There was a self-registration box at the entrance booth after the camp store. There were less than 10 campers in the campground when we arrived. We observed reserved signs on some campsite posts from previous guests, although there was no sign on our site. We would not have been too happy, if we had found someone on our site when we got there! We waved when we passed park rangers during our stay, although we did not speak with any workers our entire stay (other than at the marina).

Campsite L005

The campsites in this park are on circle loops, and Loop L is near the outer edge with woods along the edge. We had a private and beautiful view from our fire pit and table. It was not windy during our stay; however, we heard a startling noise one night of our stay - a huge tree fell down in the woods! There are many large trees in Kentucky, and the tree we heard made a tremendous crash/thud. We were in bed when this happened, and did not hear if there was any cracking or other noise beforehand to indicate this was about to happen.

Campsite L5
View out window toward L4
Fog in the morning, just like Mammoth Cave

Site L005 has a paved pad, and it is level. There is water and 50 amp power on the site. We liked the campsite we had chosen, although I also liked loop O. Loop O sits atop a hill and looks down over the campground. Most of the sites in Loop O are open so there is no privacy, although a couple of them have trees. Since our stay was during off-season, and there were only one or two campers in each loop, Loop O would have been a good choice. 

View of site L5 from Loop O

Facilities: restrooms, sanitation station

I visited the restrooms by the pool once, which was enough for me. The bathrooms were dirty and run-down, so I did not check the condition of the showers. There were washers and dryers in front of the building, which must have been working, as I observed someone use them during our stay. 

There are a few different dump stations in the campground. We used the one in front of L loop, which was somewhat unlevel. On our way out, my husband commented that we should have used the one near E loop, as it was more level. 

Recreation: pool, boating, hiking, cave 

There is an outside pool inside the campground between loops K and H. When we arrived, we observed lawn furniture and umbrellas set up next to the pool, so we were hopeful that it was open (it was over 90°F). The pool was full of water; however, it looked like it had been neglected for quite some time. The water looked like rainwater rather than pool water, and there were many pieces of debris in the water. There is also a pool at the lodge, which we thought we might use after dinner; however, we did not end up doing this.   

We rented a pontoon boat at the marina for half a day. The price was kind of high for an old boat; however, we could not find another place near the park that rented boats. The few we did find were 30 to 45 minutes away by vehicle, and we decided it would not be worth it to drive back and forth. The off-season price at the marina was $160 for the day, and $100 for a half day, plus gas and oil. We tried to negotiate the half-day price (half price/$80 instead of $100); however, we did not have any success with that. The boat was old and worn. My husband had difficulty getting the boat restarted, and he has 40 years experience driving and maintaining boats of all types. At least it had a roof, and we had brought one of our lawn chairs to sit on.

Boat ramp at the marina
The marina provided a map of the lake; however, the information on the map was nearly worthless. No depths, no distances, no useful information. Even though we are experienced boaters, it was difficult for us to tell exactly where we were. Apparently we were not the only ones, because someone in a pontoon boat pulled up to us as soon as we left the marina to ask for directions. He was not a boater because he nearly ran into us, and then he left the boat in gear while he stepped to the front of the boat to talk to us! A suggestion to help with navigation: I turned on the walking app on my phone shortly after we left the marina, so it tracked where we went. Since I did not do this right away, we had to figure out some of the route on our own when we returned. Fortunately, we had made note in our minds of a few landmarks on our way out.   

This looked like a nice beach from a distance!
We stopped two places on shore during our ride, and we swam in the center. The water was warm and clear. The shoreline was not sandy. Many places looked like beach sand from a distance, because some of the stone is the color of beach sand. The view during the ride was beautiful.

End of Jones Branch

Jones Branch

We hiked Jones Branch trail, and we hiked to a cave. We also hiked a non-connecting trail in this area that is not on the online map. The trails are not well marked, and the map I had gotten online was not accurate. We could not find the trail shown on the map to Cindy Cave from Jones Branch. When we could not find it from Jones Branch, we looked along the banks next to the road that goes back to the picnic area, as well. We ended up finding a cave across from the marina overflow parking lot. We had thought this was Cindy Cave; however, the photos we took do not look like photos we saw online from someone else. My husband looked inside the cave, although we did not go in. The sign said you needed a permit to enter the cave. Jones Branch trail comes out near the marina. 


Our reservation confirmation said that Internet service is available for an extra fee. I did not need a password to connect to the Internet, and there was not anything about a fee when I connected. I do not know if this has something to do with our off-season stay, or if it had not been set up correctly. I was happy with the price we paid at this park, although it definitely needs some TLC. This park is not really on the way to anywhere, as there is only one way in and out, which is about ½ hour off the main road. There is no beach, so unless the pool is kept up, or you have a boat, there is no place to swim.

Let me know if you have any questions!