We had our first week of official van camping life these past few days (and learned a lot about longer term camping), but more on that later… We were extremely, extremely lucky with the really mild, beautiful weather, but more than that, we randomly stumbled on one of the nicest, cheapest campgrounds I’ve ever been to. General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, Kentucky, is right along the Ohio River Scenic Byway and it is pretty excellent.
Don’t get me wrong—it’s not the fanciest state park, and there aren’t miles and miles of wilderness surrounding it. In fact, it’s right off the road and you can hear traffic most of the time. But, it has so much to recommend it for a combination of getting used to more rustic camping without giving up a lot of the amentities that I need to make it a productive workweek and training week, not just a “we’re living in a van” week.
About 10 miles of singletrack surrounds the campgrounds, and while some of it is extremely “rustic” and currently leaf-covered, it made for great running, hiking and riding (there are 6 miles specifically for mountain biking, the rest is hikers-only). It’s a lot of up-and-down (about 300 meters of climbing per loop of the singletrack) and there are a bunch of quiet roads surrounding the park. It would probably get old after a few weeks, but for a few days, it was awesome to have riding right behind the van, and trails for running right there. I think it was the most efficient training week I’ve had in months.
This is one of those not-camping-cool things, but the campsite had the best (FREE) wifi that I’ve had all season, and that counts AirBNBs, hotels and coffee shops. All week, we were able to work outside on our laptops in the sunshine at a picnic table. I had figured we’d be running to town to find decent service and we’d be lucky to even check email with what the camp offered, but it was really great. We only left once to restock groceries!
The hot showers in the (surprisingly decent) washrooms were nice, and electric outlets at each campsite made life easier (our hot plate and kettle don’t run on our solar panel and battery, sadly, so cooking would be impossible without electricity). We’re hoping to get a better camping setup for cooking, but until we’re camping more, it’s hard to justify the cost (and I have an article on that coming soon as well).
The best part? With a AAA discount, it’s only around $20 per night! Crazy cheap compared to a lot of other campsites, but with way better amenities than most. So, if you’re in the area—right between Louisville and Cincinnati—I’d check it out. We had time between cyclocross races and wanted something quiet so we could work and train efficiently, and it really delivered.
(Warning: not a lot by way of great restaurants or anything around the campground, so plan to drive to Louisville for good eats and drinks if that’s what you’re into!)