Virginia State Park Adding 6-Bedroom Cabins

August 29, 2013 by · Comments Off on Virginia State Park Adding 6-Bedroom Cabins 

This 6-bedroom cabin at Bear Creek Lake State Park is similar to the new large cabins planned for Lake Anna State Park. Photo courtesy of Virginia State Parks.

Two Virginia state parks — Lake Anna and Caledon — are expanding their services for campers, the former adding new six-bedroom cabins and an active mining experience and the latter putting in rustic tent-camping sites for those who hike or paddle in.

At the park on Lake Anna in Spotsylvania County, the big news is the addition of two large cabins to join the 10 others along Pigeon Run Creek in the park, the Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, reported.

Park manager Doug Graham noted that the General Assembly this year approved spending more than $7 million to upgrade cabins and other facilities at a number of parks around the state.

Included in that was money for two large cabins at Lake Anna State Park, at roughly $450,000 each, to satisfy demand from families and other groups holding reunions, retreats and other functions.

“They have these at some other parks and they’re very nice, with the six bedrooms, a large central living room and three bathrooms in each,” said Graham.

Graham said he, State Parks Director Joe Elton and others recently scouted sites near the other cabins and found two likely spots, one on the waterfront and one just up the hill from that.

The parks’ planning and construction folks are just getting started on the project. Graham expects the new cabins to be finished and available sometime in the next year or two, depending largely on how long the planning process takes.

“We have a big demand for something larger than the two-bedroom cabins we have now,” said Graham, who noted that groups and large families will frequently rent out eight or more of the two-bedroom units to get capacity they need.

While those two new additions won’t arrive for awhile, a Lake Anna Mining Company sluice at the park has provided fun for visitors all summer.

It’s a neat, miniature mining experience on the porch of the park’s renovated visitor center. Visitors can use a passing stream of water and plastic pans to find minerals and other glittery objects from bags of sand purchased there.

The bags range from $5 to $20 each, depending on whether the purchaser wants to pan for fossils, glittery stones or other minerals.

Chief ranger Bryce Wilk said the sluice has been popular this summer and that that it will be available daily through this weekend, and then on certain days in the fall or by special request.

At Caledon, a team of Youth Conservation Corps workers this summer helped put in the first campsites in the nature park along the Potomac River in King George County.

Chief Ranger Sammy Zambone said the team of young people who spent the better part of two weeks in Caledon built four sand-filled, timber-encircled tent pads along the river. He noted that staffers will complete two more, as well as other needed features.

The campsites, which will require visitors to bring in their own drinking water, will be available by reservation only to campers who paddle canoes or kayaks to the site, or hike in from existing parking areas.

The small boats anticipated to bring in some campers can land on the small beach near the campsites, which are also close to Jones Pond.

The campsites currently have a portable toilet. Plans call for it to eventually be replaced by a composting toilet.

Zambone said staffers will add fire rings, picnic tables and lantern hangers at the sites.

At that point, sometime this fall, the campsites will become available through the state parks’ reservation line: (800) 933-7275.

At both Lake Anna and Caledon, there may also be new wrinkles coming in future years.

At Lake Anna, Graham said the recently updated park plan calls for a new visitor center and perhaps an amphitheater to be built on a currently empty 85-acre tract near the park beach that was purchased several years back.

And at Caledon, there are plans for 10 to 15 more limited-access campsites in future years, probably closer to the visitor center than the six new ones along the river.


Hershey Highmeadow Adds 10 Cabins

March 28, 2013 by · Comments Off on Hershey Highmeadow Adds 10 Cabins 

Hershey Highmeadow Campground in Hershey, Pa., is adding 10 deluxe log cabins to the Crestview area.

Ten deluxe cabins like this one but without a loft from Fork Creek Cabins are enroute to Hershey Highmeadow Campground and will be ready for the 2013 season.

According to a news release, these popular cabins can accommodate up to seven guests each and provide campers with such amenities as:

  • Heat and air conditioning.
  • Ceiling fan.
  • Dinner table and seating.
  • Kitchenette with sink, stove top, microwave, refrigerator, coffee pot and toaster.
  • Bathroom with a shower.
  • Living room area with pull-out sofa, flat-screen television and DVD player.
  • Porch with a grill and picnic table.

Nine cabins will have two bedrooms and a sofa. Sleeping accommodations include one bedroom with one double bed with a single bunk bed on top and one standard bunk bed, and one bedroom with a queen-size bed. One cabin will have one bedroom that includes one double bed with a single bunk bed on top and one standard bunk bed, and a queen-size sofa bed in the living room.

All 10 cabins will have full amenities year-round (all other cabins do not have running water from early November through mid-April). The one-bedroom deluxe log cabin rate starts at $147 per night and the two-bedroom deluxe log cabin rate starts at $156 per night.

Hershey Highmeadow Campground is a 55-acre campground that offers more than 300 open and shaded sites, including 37 cabins with heat, air conditioning, a flat-screen television and DVD player (all 22 deluxe log cabins have a shower and restroom); full-hook-up sites with electric, water, sewer and cable television; partial sites with electric, water and cable television; and no hook-up tent sites. Pull-through sites are also available. The campground provides free Wi-Fi services. For additional information, visit, Facebook or call (717) 534-8999.


Storm Damages Alabama Campground

March 22, 2013 by · Comments Off on Storm Damages Alabama Campground 

Some of the cabins like this one in Alabama’s DeSoto State Park received damage in a March 18 storm.

While the DeSoto State Park Lodge and Restaurant in northern Alabama are closed because of tornado damage from Monday’s (March 18) storm, the campground and day-use areas still are open, park officials said this week.

The opening of the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum that had been scheduled for today has been postponed, the Gadsen Times reported.

According to Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein, the hotel and restaurant were most affected by the storm.

“High winds caused some major damage to the roof and walls of the hotel and some of the cabins. We also have quite a few large trees that were blown down. The lodge area starting at Blalock Drive is still closed to traffic while we clear debris,” he said.

Park officials believe most of the cabins will reopen very soon, but the structural damage to the hotel and restaurant likely mean they will be closed longer.

“We ask for the public’s patience,” Lein said. “Crews will be working diligently to clean up debris and get as much of the park open as soon as possible.”

He said the majority of DeSoto’s hiking and mountain biking trails are open, but visitors are asked to be cautious around downed trees and debris that may be across the trails.

“The improved campground, country store and nature center, primitive campground, picnic area and the back-country camping sites are all open,” Lein said.

Camping reservations may be made by calling (256) 845-5380.

Storm damage updates will be posted on the park’s website,


Arkansas State Park Adds 10 Camping Cabins

March 7, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Exterior view of one of the 10 new cabins at Lake Fort Smith State Park in Arkansas. This is a one-bedroom model. Photo courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.

A more than $2 million expansion project at Lake Fort Smith State Park first announced during the 2012 The Compass Conferencehas been completed, according to a statement from the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism (ADPT).

Located almost halfway between Fort Smith and Fayetteville, the park is eight miles north of Mountainburg on U.S. 71.

State Parks Director Greg Butts said the 10 new cabins at Lake Fort Smith State Park are now available to rent. Five of the cabins house one bedroom and clock in at 896 square feet, while the other five will consist of two bedrooms at 1,152 square feet. The cabins were designed by Tim A. Risley & Associates of Fort Smith, with Steele Development, of Bentonville, handling the construction.

Funded by Amendment 75, Arkansas’s 1/8-cent conservation tax, the one-story cabin designs are reminiscent of the 1930s WPA style – with some of the stone used being reclaimed from the original park site. Each cabin includes a great room with wood-burning fireplace, high definition satellite TV, kitchen and dining area. At the back of each cabin is a large, elevated covered deck with a woods view. On the ground level below are a picnic table and grill.

“The park is a first-class recreational destination. And, these cabins will provide quality overnight accommodations for park guests,” Butts said in the statement. “With the opening of these 10 new cabins, we have now replaced all the facilities that park visitors enjoyed through the decades.”

Ten new cabins (shown at left in map) are now open in Lake Fort Smith State Park in northwest Arkansas. Map courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.


The project totaled $2,146,536, which also included road and parking area paving and utility work.

To meet the needs of visitors with disabilities, two cabins — a one-bedroom cabin and a two-bedroom cabin — are barrier-free designs. Tubs are not offered in these two barrier-free cabins. Instead, the bathroom in the one-bedroom barrier-free cabin features a roll-in shower. The two-bedroom barrier-free cabin features a roll-in shower in one bathroom and a walk-in shower in the other.

In the four other one-bedroom cabins (those that not barrier-free), the bathrooms feature spa tubs. In the other two-bedroom cabins (those that are not barrier-free), one bathroom features a spa tub and the other bathroom has a walk-in shower.

“With the 10 new cabins, we’ve brought back the look and feel of the WPA style while increasing their size and the amenities they offer,” he said. “We have created new places for new experiences, and we now have new cabins that will be passed from generation to generation,” Lake Fort Smith Park Superintendent Ron Gossage said in the statement.

The park closed in January 2002 to be relocated from its original site due to the enlarging of Lake Fort Smith and Lake Shepherd Springs into a single reservoir to meet the future municipal water needs of the Fort Smith area. The city owns the 258-acre park and leases it to the ADPT. Fort Smith officials provided $12 million to fund the new park, and the Arkansas funded another $10 million from Amendment 75.

A view of part of the main campground at Lake Fort Smith State Park.

In addition to the cabins, the park includes 30 campsites, group facilities including a dining hall and two group lodges with kitchenettes, picnic sites, a pavilion, swimming pool, marina with boat rentals, boat launch ramp, trails, playground, and a visitor center with exhibits and a meeting/classroom.


Louisiana Officials Eye Funds for State’s Parks

March 4, 2013 by · Comments Off on Louisiana Officials Eye Funds for State’s Parks 

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana

Seven months after Hurricane Isaac, deluxe cabins battered by the storm at Fontainebleau State Park on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana remain closed to the public.

The state is losing $120 to $150 a night for each cabin at one of Louisiana’s most popular parks until repairs are made. Those repairs require money.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Friday (March 1) that the shuttered cabins give him concern about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s revenue projections hitting their targets in the upcoming fiscal year, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, reported.

“We’re sitting there with the biggest moneymaker non-operational and we’re afraid that will reduce our revenue,” Dardenne said.

Fees paid by state park visitors go into a Louisiana State Parks Improvement and Repair Fund. Instead of using the fund strictly for maintenance, Jindal wants to use it for operations, as he has in the past.

Dardenne said the fund generated $7.9 million in the current fiscal year, when the Fontainebleau cabins were open for several months. In the budget year that starts July 1, the governor is banking on the fund generating $8.5 million even though the cabins are closed, Dardenne said.

“This is the dog chasing its tail,” Dardenne said.

In a prepared statement, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said the park maintenance fund has continued to generate increasing revenue every year.

“The parks maintenance fund has been used as it is allowed, for park operations and maintenance,” she said. “Even so, since (fiscal year 2008-09), in addition to being appropriated a sufficient amount to meet his needs, the lieutenant governor has had at least $2.9 million left over in the park maintenance fund at the end of the year, which was available and could have been used for repairs.”

Budget hearings soon will kick off to debate the governor’s proposed $24.7 billion state operating budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The budget funds hospitals, colleges, parks and other state services.

The House Appropriations Committee will start meeting March 12 to take an agency-by-agency look at the budget.

Dardenne said he is happier with the proposed budget than he has been with past budgets.

Still, Dardenne and the Jindal administration continue to be at odds over how state parks and tourism efforts should be funded.

At issue is whether the governor, facing slumping revenue, is diverting dollars meant to maintain state parks and historic sites as well as tax dollars designed to market the state as a tourism destination.

Additionally, rural libraries across the state likely will have to make do without any state aid.

Dardenne said $8.6 million is coming out of his tourism budget to pay for the Senior Olympics, a Creole plantation home, the state library, the arts and other expenses.

He also must help pay for a Shreveport bowl game, the Essence Festival, the New Orleans Bowl, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and the Louisiana Book Festival.

Dardenne said he is getting a little bit of relief because he does not have to write checks to the Super Bowl and the Final Four in next year’s budget.

Nichols said expenses like the Senior Olympics and other events should be funded with tourism dollars. The alternative, she said, would be to make reductions to other public services.

“We believe it’s important to maximize those available dollars instead of cutting healthcare and higher education,” Nichols said.