“This is not really roughing it, but it is getting out into nature and it is camping.”
That’s how David Neville, General Manager of Popes Creek Ranch describes glamping—a portmanteau of “glamor” and “camping”—at this outdoor escape in Lebanon, Kentucky.
“Glamping is several steps up from primitive camping,” Neville explains. “Somebody can come down on a Friday night. They may go fishing at a local lake, then come back and cook their fish over an open fire, then sleep in very comfortable surroundings.”
Popes Creek provides a range of accommodations, from basic to luxurious. Little bear and big bear tents are standard wall tents up on platforms. Big bear tents are furnished with beds made by local craftsmen along with chairs and tables for a comfortable outdoor living experience. There are also unfurnished teepees on platforms, a popular option for kids.
The ranch has several cabins as well, along with indoor and outdoor facilities to host wedding ceremonies, receptions, and other gatherings.
Adventurous glampers can stay in one of the two treehouses on the property, the Baxter or the Venus, which are named after two dogs owned by the ranch’s founder, Dr. James Bland.
“Dr. Bland is a noted psychiatrist here in Kentucky,” says Neville. “His take on the whole medicine field is that nature is the absolute best prescription of all. And his vision for a long time now has been to get folks out into nature, and do it in a comfortable way. They can come down, take advantage of one of our sleeping accommodations, but still get the benefit of our natural surroundings.”
Along with the 1100 wilderness acres on the property, Popes Creek Ranch backs up to the 1400-acre Marion County Wildlife Management Area.
“We have a pretty diverse set of trails here on the ranch, whether for hikers or horseback riders or others,” says Neville. “If you want to just get out and take a leisurely, hour-long stroll, we have those kind of trails. We have some more medium stuff so if you’re not in great shape but you want to get out and get some exercise on a Saturday morning you can do that. “
The physical benefits of getting out and hiking the trails are obvious, but the psychological benefits are there as well.
“We have shinrin-yoku trails which are a Japanese version of relaxation where you just get out on the trail for a couple of hours,” says Neville. “The medical folks say it reduces blood pressure levels, cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone, and resting pulse rate.”
For visitors who are more interested in increasing their heart rate, Popes Creek Ranch has hiking and mountain biking trails with steeper and more technical sections.
“We are hiker friendly, mountain biker friendly, and horse friendly,” says Neville. “Our RV park will have full hookups and some slots also dedicated to horse campers—those folks that bring their horses and have trailers that have sleeping quarters in the front.
“We’re open year-round but fall might be one of the prettiest times,” Neville adds. “The weather’s a little cooler. The trails are really wide open. The trees are just spectacular. We have the classical mixed hardwood forest that we’re known for here in central Kentucky. We have some open areas, so you get the combination of those two and it really makes for nice scenery. We’ll have comfortable safe access to nature year-round and we try to make it an authentic pleasurable experience for everybody that comes.”
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2015. Watch the full episode.