Located in Jackson County, between Ripley and Spencer, you’ll find Elk Fork.
Don’t expect to go to camp up here but you can find a place to stay in Ripley and you’ll only be a short drive away from the lake.
This is more of a day/evening trip location- they do allow people to fish at night and they will enforce fishing license as well as boat licensing.
There is a ramp and the lake is peaceful, so it’s a good starter location when you’re learning to kayak.
All in all, I don’t like this location as much as Charles Fork but my husband does enjoy going occasionally with his dad or friends to spend the day fishing. The lake is big, so if you’re learning to kayak and trying to catch up to a troller motor, it will feel almost like you will be paddling all day.
I went out with my husband and father in law. They both had boats with troller motors and I was trying to meet them. By the time I caught up with them, I felt I had a decent grasp on how to paddle in general.
Charles Fork Lake is a 70 acre lake with 21 miles of hiking trails where people fish, kayak and take other boats out. It’s a peaceful and relaxing area with a camping ground and bait shop located just above the lake.
You can choose between renting an electric campsite where you can plug phone chargers and other devices or a nonelectric if you’re camping more traditionally.
If you want to use the pavilleon for a birthday party, reunion or any other event, it is free- as long as there is an open picnic area.
We went with the intent on going camping the weekend of our anniversary (3rd-the 5th of August) and picked the wrong time. It rained the first night, so we stayed in the Boggs Grandview Motel located just a few miles away from the lake.
The inn was a good experience, they had cable and friendly staff. It cost less to stay, than fancier motels and we didn’t need fancy accommodations since we were going to the lake the next day.
We happened to go during one of the major events, so it was too crowded for us to finish what we wanted to be a private celebration, but we have gone together on many day trips fishing and riding the boat. We’ve taken my kayak, it’s a great place for a beginner kayaker and every year they have the “Light up the Night” kayak event, usually around the first weekend in August.
If you ever want a place to really get away from it all, Charles Fork Lake has great fishing, boating and hiking options but be prepared to get away- many phone carriers don’t get reception.
For our anniversary two years ago, in August, we booked the sweetheart cabin at Smoke Hole Cavern.
We originally were supposed to go in August, but due to a death in the immediate family, we had to reschedule. They have a 48 hour cancellation policy and we had to give shorter notice, so we had to reschedule instead of cancel. We also only had a very short time we were allowed to reschedule or they told us they were going to lose our deposit.
We rescheduled for a new date in September and ended up going during a very cold, rainy weekend and we were both starting to get sick BUT the cabin made up for everything. We stayed in the honeymoon (sweetheart) log cabin. The cabin was made for 2 people (actually has rules that you can’t have visitors) and they offer several extras- champagne, souvenir coffee mug (I loved it and used it daily until I dropped it) and some romantic foods. Since neither of us drink alcohol and I have to watch what I eat very carefully, the only extra we got was the mug, which like I said, I loved.
We were recovering from a four hour car trip so went straight to our cabin after grabbing a bite to eat in the gift shop and crashed a bit with some movies and trying out the hot tub the first night. The second day we went on tour of the caverns and shopped around before going back to try to find the football game. The food was good at the gift shop and there were tons of shirts and stones for sale. We got a gold hunt game and a few pieces of rock for the kids as souvenirs. The staff was friendly.
The tour of the cave lasted around 1 hour. It was decently lit but some parts were dark, they take people in groups, so you’ll be going with several other families more than likely. The tour guides know the cave well and will answer any questions you have.
They have grills spread out randomly through all the cabins for grilling out, there is a small kid fishing pond and a bait shack in the middle and it’s only a couple hundred feet from the river where you can go and fish (make sure you have your license, though). It was too cold and rainy for us to use those accommodations but we would like to go back to use those and see how great a vacation it is for the whole family.
If you’re looking to get away with your partner, honeymoon or anniversary, I highly recommend staying at the Sweetheart log cabin.