In eastern Kentucky, Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is a huge recreational area with over 2,800 acres of wildlife and fun. The 1,100-acre Dewey Lake is one of the main attractions that draw guests to the park for swimming, boating, fishing, and other aquatic activities. In fact, fishing is well-known at the park because the state’s largest Tiger Muskie was caught there. The 13-pound, 12-ounce fish was caught in 1981 by James Mollet. There are other large fish in the lake too including catfish, bass, and crappie.
The park was named for Jenny Wiley, who was taken captive by Native Americans in 1789 during an attack in the area. She escaped eventually and reunited with her husband, living to the age of 71. Nowadays, the park boasts a ton of recreational activities besides water sports such as hiking, golfing, biking, and even dancing.
Since there is so much to do here, you are going to want to stay more than one day to enjoy it all. Lucky for you, the Jenny Wiley Resort State Park has 121 RV campsites, 18 cottages, and a lodge with 49 rooms. The campsites all have electric and water hookups for your convenience and there are playgrounds nearby for the kids. Pets are welcome here as well.
Although Jenny Wiley State Resort Park is out in the middle of the woods, there are several main interstates surrounding the park. I-75 from the Lexington area, I-77 from the Fayetteville area, I-64 from the Huntington area, and I-26 or I-81 from the Northern Tennessee area. The roads leading into the park include US-23, KY-3, KY-321, and KY-194, which tend to be curvy and sometimes hilly so be alert and take it slow.
Inside the park, you will not have any trouble getting around no matter what size rig you are driving. The park is made for RVers and has nicely graded and well cared for roads no matter whether they are paved, gravel, or dirt. The parking pads vary at the campgrounds so you will want to keep this in mind when making your reservation.
If you want to visit more local parks, check out Cabwaylingo State Forest, which has over 8,000 acres of wooded space in West Virginia and Kentucky where you can enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, and biking. Also, just under 20 miles to the northwest you can find Paintsville Lake State Park. This 242-acre park has 26 miles of waterfront on the 1,100-acre Paintsville Lake. Fishing, boating, and swimming are major attractions here. Stop by and visit one of these places on your way into or out of Jenny Wiley State Resort Park.
If you are looking for something more luxurious, try May Lodge. Along the banks of Dewey Lake in the southern end of Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, the large and modern lodge has 49 rooms from singles to kings. Whether it is just you or you and several family members, you will be able to find a room here if you reserve it early enough. The largest is the King Deluxe with a king bed, dining set for two, dresser, television, and full bathroom. All rooms have balconies, and most overlook the lake.
For those with more than four people, get adjoining rooms so you can share balconies and hang out together easily. The rooms with two double beds for families of four have two full beds and all of the accommodations of the other rooms. Your furbabies are welcome for a small deposit, and you must keep them restrained and clean up after them during your stay. Reservations are required and should be made as early as possible.
Enjoy a night indoors while still being out in the woods at one of 18 cottages located along the water’s edge by the May Lodge. Cottages 115 to 124 have two bedrooms. Cottages 131 to 138 are duplex cottages, which are right next to the playground, boat ramp and marina, recreation center, and clubhouse. The convention center is also nearby as is the golf course. Up to two pets are allowed to stay with you so bring your pups. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance.
All cottages are furnished with beds, full kitchens and bathrooms, and living rooms with a couch, several lounge chairs, and a television. Bedding and towels are provided as are cooking utensils and tableware. One-bedroom cottages can sleep up to four with a queen sofa bed as well as a queen bed in the bedroom. Two-bedroom cottages can accommodate up to six people with two full beds and a queen sofa bed.
Open from mid-March to November, the spacious campsites at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park have length limits that range from as small as 19 feet to as large as 95 feet. However, most of them are between 40 and 50 feet long. It is best to reserve your spot early to make sure you get the space you need for your RV or trailer. All 121 campsites have 20- to 50-amp electric hookups and water so you can cook inside on your stove or outdoors on the provided campfire grill. There is also a large picnic table that seats eight so you can all eat together.
Located close to the dance pad, two playgrounds, and the outdoor classroom, the campground is perfect for those with kids along. And for the adults, the camp grocery, showers, and several trails are here as well. If you want to hit the water, you are just a short walk to Dewey Lake Boat Ramp. Pets are welcome to join you, but they are not allowed in any of the buildings and they need to be supervised and restrained at all times.
You cannot leave Jenny Wiley State Resort Park without hiking at least one of the trails. There are 13.5 miles of trails here, including three miles of multi-use trails that allow mountain biking. The 0.75-mile Sassafras Loop Trail is the shortest and easiest. It meanders out onto a peninsula by the outdoor classroom and campground where you can see the lake up close and personal. The 1.9-mile Switchback multi-use trail can be hiked or biked up to Arrowhead Point where you can get some amazing photos of the surrounding area.
During the early spring and fall, you can see some of the elk herds that live in Jenny Wiley State Resort Park. January to March and September through November are the best times to spot these majestic animals. The state of Kentucky boasts more than 10,000 elk with many of them living in the park. If you are having trouble finding them on your own, book a tour with the professionals who can help you find what you are looking for. Don’t forget your camera. You will want to share your experience on your favorite social media sites.
Be sure to pack your golf clubs in the RV because Jenny Wiley State Resort Park has a 700-acre golf course in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The 18-hole Stone Crest championship golf course overlooks the Big Sandy Valley and city of Prestonsburg with gorgeous views of the lake and surrounding mountains. You may have trouble keeping your eye on the ball while enjoying the scenery. Also at the course, you can find a pro shop, lounge, clubhouse, and driving range.
This may be the only state park that provides a place for performing artists to show off their talents. Whether you are a dance enthusiast or theater lover, the outdoor theater has several performances every day for you to enjoy. While you are at it, on Friday and Saturdays you can try out the stage by enjoying the dance pad at the campground yourself for some line dancing. Bring the kids up and let them get rid of some of that excess energy that helps them run you ragged. No matter what, you will all have a great time.
The marina on Dewey Lake offers 153 boat slips for your boat so go ahead and hook up the boat trailer. You can also enjoy the water from a canoe or kayak that can be packed inside your RV. If you don’t have any of these with you, don’t worry. The park rents canoe and pontoon boats from April until November. There are four boat launching ramps around the park and you can grab some ice, drinks, and snacks at the marina or camp store before heading out on the water.
Well, what else would you rather do in the summer in Kentucky? The lake is a fun place to enjoy the water on a hot day or you can hang out on the beach and enjoy the sun while the kids play in the water. You can swim just about anywhere along the Dewey Lake but there are no lifeguards, so you will be swimming at your own risk. If you would rather swim without the fish, the May Lodge has a huge swimming pool open from Memorial Day until mid-August.