The campground and general area is beautiful with a welcoming vibe. It can get a little crowded in the campground at certain times due to holidays but it's not hard to lose the crowd. Everyone is always extremely kind and treat you like family. The list of activities is almost endless……. boating, fishing and anything else you can do on the lake, trails in every direction, secluded spots on and off the lake for picnics, camping or whatever, stargazing, pool, wildlife everywhere, games and general activities at the campground, community center, dam, parks, and it's really close to town in case you want to check it out. Make sure you check out the Jenny Wiley theater if you can, they are beyond talented.
I lived in the Dewey Lake-JWSP area with family members, until 2002. Currently, I live about 10-15 minutes away from JWSP and visit the park at least once a month, depending on the weather. If you want to mix up your trip besides going camping or doing any recreational activities: Jenny Wiley Theater, mid June-early August, Outdoor Theater, (kinda like Summer Stock); Theme or special dinners at the Lodge, (mostly on weekends), year round; the community/ state park swimming pool is currently being "refurbished" and will be reopening, (hopefully) in Summer 2019. And, speaking of recreation, you can "hit the links" at the Stone Crest Golf Course, nearby.
But, as for other recreational activities: there's bike riding, hiking, boating: recreational, travel, kayaking and fishing types. If you want to do any horseback riding, you have to bring your own horse and gear, but contact the JWSP office first on where you can ride your horse. Better yet, you can take about a 30 minute drive from the Lodge to the German Bridge Campground area up Cow Creek, which is also in the Dewey Lake area, Contact the Dewey Lake US Army Corps of Engineers for more details, (in other words, Google it). Plus, there are picnic shelters in different areas of JWSP, some of them right next to Dewey Lake.
Now, as for camping, you have 3 type choices… #1. reserving a cabin near the Lodge, (and Dewey's, the local "watering hole"), kinda like "glamping", but it's rougher. (BTW, this area and the Lodge are the best places for getting a cell phone signal). #2. RV (Recreational Vehicle) Camping. There is a RV camping site not far from where I used to live, but from my personal experience, call the JWSP office at least 2 weeks in advance before the date you plan to use the site to see if there is going to be anything available on the dates you want, before making your reservation. First come, first served! #3. A. There are tent campsites next to Dewey Lake in various areas around the lake accessible by boat only, which are overseen by the Corps of Engineers, contact them or the JWSP office. Best place in my opinion: Campsite near the Dewey Dam/ Spillway Area. B. Other Outdoor Camping: Contact the Corps of Engineers or the Park Ranger's at JWSP. If you want to see some wildlife also, contact the local KY State Fish & Wildlife office that handles JWSP and Dewey Lake.
But there's some stuff I've learned over the years living and camping in this area, that I think you must know, some of this you might have run into on other camping trips at other parks…
- DO NOT DRINK THE WATER FROM THIS LAKE… AND DON'T SWIM IN IT EITHER!
- FISH AT YOUR OWN RISK,,, CATCH & RELEASE! (Personally, I'd go to a pay lake).
- FCC LICENCE 2-WAY EMERGENCY RADIO (I prefer the Motorola ones, (white & red, also has a NOAA Weather Radio and FM Radio), you can get a brand new one for between $40-$60. The FCC Licence is currently $70, the feds do a background check on you, if you get the licence, it lasts 10 years).
- BEAR MACE - A BIG CAN OF IT! Not only do you have the Black Bears to deal with, you have the Coyotes too!
- IF YOU ARE AT A LAKESIDE CAMPING SITE, HAVE A LIFE JACKET ON AT ALL TIMES! You might fall into the water by accident or you may have to jump into the lake at night in case of emergency!
And last, but not least…
6. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE A MOTORBOAT! NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ON THE BOAT! EVERY PERSON ON BOARD MUST BE WEARING A LIFE JACKET! The Fish & Wildlife officers do surprise checks on the recreational boats to see if the rules are being followed… if they aren't following the rules… you may have to pay a fine and/or do some time!
State park that needs a lot of TLC.
Older campground but quit and peaceful. Not much to do. No WiFi no tv reception. Campsites are set up were the water hookups at in front of your camper. Bring long water hose
The park’s along the lake and has hiking, birding, a restaurant, and a nice surprise: an open air theatre with shows outside all summer. The park is kind of famous for having elk, which are common out west, but we didn’t get to see any. If you have horses there are trails but AFAIK the park doesn’t let you hire them (not sure about outside companies). None of the campsites are alone or very close to the lake. All the ones we saw were very open but along the trees, so no lakeside views either. They also have cabins. Nice built-up modern KY state park with enough to do to fill a whole weekend for all of your family. Never been in the water so can’t comment on Carrie J’s assessment of the lake being gross.
There are tons of sites for backcountry camping throughout the park. These are primarily situated around Dewey Lake. I have never actually stayed in the camping facilities as it's always seemed more fun to go "off grid" and visit a more private site. Be warned, the lake is gross. People using house boats are known to dump waste directly into the lake. If you don't plan on diving in and would rather just fish and hike, make time to take a trip here.