Big Bear Resort Campground (Kentucky Lake)
After visiting The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, we continued our eastward journey back to our home state of Kentucky. Before heading home for the Kentucky Derby though, we decided to swing through Western Kentucky for a few nights of camping at Kentucky Lake and a visit with Jason Akers of The Self-Sufficient Gardener to see his new homestead.
We decided to camp near Kentucky Lake at Big Bear Resort, where we saw a little more rain to go with the rain we got in Arkansas at Petit Jean State Park and in Missouri at Table Rock State Park. We actually had more precipitation in the 2.5 weeks we spent camping in Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky than we saw in the 3.5 months that we spent in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado combined. The stark contrast in the water situation between the western states and eastern states is amazing.
Big Bear Resort is located on the western side of Kentucky Lake. There are two small cities near here, Paducah and Murray, KY. Within a few hours, you have the bigger cities of Bowling Green, KY and Nashville, TN.
There are tons of campgrounds and tons of recreation opportunities around the Land Between The Lakes area (Lake Barkley being the lake on the northern and eastern sides). All in all, this is a great location to both get to and to have plenty of outdoor opportunities.
We did get a couple of incredible shots of the lake, one on a foggy morning and one on a sunny day with a family of geese swimming by.
Big Bear Resort has three types of campsites – primitive, electric and water, and full hook-ups for RVs (electric, water, and sewer). The only catch here is that their electric outlets are not for a standard 3-prong plug. They are for the bigger RV plug and you will require an adapter to plug in an extension cord. Luckily for us, the marina sells the adapter for $3.50.
Strong, fast wireless internet is available everywhere you go within the campground. Big Bear Resort also has decent laundry facilities at $1.50 per washer load and $1.50 per dryer load. There are two washers and two dryers, though the dryers aren’t very good and you’ll likely end up having to run your laundry twice to get it fully dried.
As for the bathrooms at Big Bear…well, there are good points and bad points. They’re clean. They’re rustic. They have both hand sanitizer and soap, though there are no paper towels or hand dryers. And it seems the builders forgot one key thing. In the Men’s room, there are no locks on the stall doors. In the Women’s room, there are partial locks, like a hook but no eye. They did at least put locks on the shower stall doors, but really, some locks on stall doors in the bathroom seem like a nice addition at about $1.50 and 5 minutes of effort per door.
Now let’s talk about the campsites themselves. They aren’t very big, nor is there a lot of flat space. When the campground is marginally full, you won’t have much in the way of privacy. This actually appears to be an RV park where people park their RVs on a long-term basis. There are lots of RVs here that have decks and storage units, so people can use them as their lake homes.
Big Bear isn’t really setup for tent campers, as evidenced by the lack of normal power outlets for those of us not in an RV. The park is beautiful and in a great location, but if you’re in a tent, you’ll likely find yourself happier at another of Land Between The Lakes’ campgrounds.
The sites at Big Bear run the fairly standard rate of $25 per night for a site with electric and water. Having looked at the prices of the other campgrounds around Land Between The Lakes, that’s pretty much what you’re going to pay, give or take a couple dollars. All in all, this is probably a great campground for RVers and an acceptable fallback plan if you can’t find something else nearby for tent campers.