From the desk of Lady BARRENton– The Great Outdoors: Nature’s Splendor

Dearest Gentle Reader,

Today, let us embark on a journey through the lush landscapes of  Barren County, KY, exploring “The Great Outdoors: Nature’s Splendor” in all its glory. Here, amidst rolling hills and tranquil valleys, lies a tapestry of natural wonders waiting to be uncovered.

First, let us venture into the depths of Mammoth Cave, an intricacy of awe-inspiring beauty. As we meander through its winding passages and cavernous chambers, the ancient echoes of time whisper tales of wonder and mystery.

Authorized in 1926 and fully established in 1941, Mammoth Cave has grown from a modest 40-miles to a sprawling network that extends beyond the park’s boundaries. Today, the cave spans an astonishing 426 miles in length. Mammoth Cave attracts nearly 600,000 visitors with its wonders: stalactites and stalagmites that whisper of ancient rivers, chambers echoing with history, and above-ground views that captivate the soul. It is a haven for adventurers and nature lovers alike, where every step reveals a new facet of its timeless allure. 

Next, we find ourselves at the threshold of Diamond Caverns. Discovered on July 14, 1859, the cave’s sparkling formations inspired the name “Diamond Caverns.” The cave quickly became a renowned attraction, with the Kennedy Bridal Party being the first official tourists just a month later.

Today, Diamond Caverns stands as the second oldest show cave in the Central Kentucky Cave Region, within the embrace of Mammoth Cave National Park. Its pristine beauty and storied past continue to captivate visitors from near and far.

And now, we turn our attention to the captivating tale of Crystal Onyx Cave, where underground treasures offer a glimpse into the geological marvels that have captivated explorers for generations. Discovered in 1960 by the adventurous Cleon Turner, this natural wonder quickly became a site of fascination. Turner’s discovery, which included ancient human bones, opened to the public in 1965, gaining fame through features in the Glasgow Daily Times.

In a twist of fate nearly as remarkable as the cave’s discovery, Scott and Sarah Sendtko, frequent visitors of Crystal Onyx Cave, returned in 2010 only to find it closed. Determined and inspired by their love for the cave, they tracked down the owners and purchased it. After relocating from Michigan to Kentucky, they embarked on a four-year journey to restore this natural wonder.

By 2014, the Sendtkos had settled in Cave City and began the meticulous task of rebuilding the cave’s infrastructure. Their dedication produced fruit when, in 2015, they acquired the surrounding campground and property. Scott’s labor of love included replacing stairs, bridges, and railings, re-graveling trails, and installing new LED lighting, all while opening new sections of the cave. Thanks to their tireless efforts, Crystal Onyx Cave triumphantly reopened on May 25, 2018, after a nine-year hiatus.

After exploring the area’s captivating caves, I suggest you turn your attention to the splendid Barren River Lake State Resort Park. This charming retreat offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure for all.

Consider camping under the stars, or choose the comfort of a lodge room or cottage. The park’s award-winning 18-hole golf course promises a delightful challenge for enthusiasts. For those who prefer water activities, Barren River Lake is perfect for boating or fishing for catfish, bluegill, bass, and crappie.

As the sun sets, relax on the patio and watch its golden hues reflect over the serene lake. Nature lovers will delight in the trails filled with wildflowers and wildlife, while the paved walking trail offers a leisurely stroll.

As we bid farewell to the lakeside serenity and award-winning golf of Barren River Lake, let us venture forth to explore the wonders awaiting us at Mammoth Valley Park. Formerly known as Kentucky Action Park, this cherished destination faced a temporary closure during the tumultuous days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, 2023 signified a new chapter with a change in ownership and a revitalized spirit, giving birth to Mammoth Valley Park.

Under its new stewardship, Mammoth Valley Park has not only reopened but flourished, marking 2024 as its first full season since 2019. This South Central Kentucky staple promises an abundance of attractions and delights for all who enter its gates. Across the parking lot, Jesse James Riding Stables continues to operate, offering adventures that complement the park’s offerings.

Mammoth Valley Park boasts the only fully operational scenic chairlift in the area, the longest twin zipline in Kentucky, the only alpine slide in Kentucky, go-karts, and a rock climbing wall. Visitors are invited to rediscover the joys of outdoor recreation and family fun. As summer unfolds, the park blossoms with activities that cater to every taste and preference, ensuring a memorable experience for guests of all ages.

Allow me to whisk you away to Jellystone Park and Karst Beach, nestled in Kentucky’s captivating Cave Country near Mammoth Cave National Park. This delightful campground offers deluxe cabins, tent sites, and RV accommodations, catering to families of all sizes.

Within the campground, a wealth of attractions awaits: splash pads, a swimming beach, playgrounds, jumping pillows, pedal carts, and even a recreation center with mini golf. Whether you crave adventure or seek serene relaxation, Jellystone and Karst Beach promise an unforgettable escape into nature’s embrace and the joy of family fun.

And what better way to savor these moments than with a picnic adorned with the finest cheeses from Kenny’s Cheese. Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese showcases a diverse herd of crossbred cows, meticulously bred and raised in a closed system to ensure consistent milk quality. Under Kenny’s guidance, the dairy and creamery operations are seamlessly integrated, with a focus on sustainable practices.

In a nod to progressiveness, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese adopted robotic milking technology post-reconstruction in 2016, enhancing efficiency while maintaining a deep respect for animal welfare. Atop their rebuilt barn, an observation deck offers panoramic views of the tranquil countryside—a testament to their harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.

As we bask in the sun-kissed meadows and breathe in the crisp, fresh air, let us savor every moment, for it is in these simple pleasures that we find true contentment. This true contentment can also be found in the local fresh milk from Legacy Dairy. As a fourth-generation farm family, the Jones family have bravely embarked on a journey to carve their niche in the challenging dairy industry.

At Legacy Dairy, every step of the journey, from milking to processing and bottling, unfolds right on the farm in small-town Hiseville, KY. The path to success has been marked with resilience and determination. Their official launch in March 2020, amidst the turmoil of a global shutdown, stands as a testament to their fortitude and spirit.

Join me in raising a glass to Legacy Dairy, where tradition meets innovation and the legacy of generations past guides their future. Their story is a reminder that with passion and perseverance, dreams do come true, even in the most trying times.

So, dear readers, I implore you to heed nature’s call and embark on a journey through the great outdoors of Glasgow-Barren County. Let us revel in the splendor that surrounds us, for in nature’s embrace, we find solace, inspiration, and the timeless beauty that reminds us of our place in the world.

Yours in exploration and appreciation,

Lady Barrenton