When visiting Rend Lake, we like to spend one day taking a day trip. While there are several good choices, we choose one destination and leave the other options for another time. This time, we decided to visit Cave-in-Rock state park. Right by this state park is the Cave-in-Rock Ferry which transports its riders over the Ohio River into Kentucky. Once in Kentucky, there is a large Amish settlement not too far from the ferry, and a little bit farther down the road is the town of Marion, Kentucky. This sounds like an adventure with lots to explore. Off we go!
It was about an hour and 20 minutes from our campsite to Cave-in-Rock state park. Located close to the state park entrance is the town of Cave-in-Rock. This is a very small town, and one can see the ferry dock on the drive into town. Scattered throughout the small town are a number of signature bicycles painted various colors. Flowers and our American flag complete each bicycle’s setting. In the town, there looks to be a couple of bed and breakfasts as well as one restaurant. As we drove through the town to the state park, the charming decor felt festive and welcoming.
By the time we arrived at the park, the day had gotten pretty hot. We found the Visitor Center which was closed due to Covid-19. The restaurant was also closed, same reason. The Visitor Center did have a charming garden out front which included the town’s signature bicycle display. Near the Visitor Center and restaurant, but sitting lower and with river views, sat several cabins available to rent. These cabins looked very nice; the park also offers a campground.
After seeing the closed Visitor Center and restaurant, we decided to look for the park’s namesake cave. We drove to the area and hiked the short distance down to the river where the cave lay off to the side. While the cave wasn’t technically closed, due to the river’s high waters, the path was extremely muddy and not passable. We then climbed back up where one can peer down into the cave through a heavy, metal grate. It’s not quite the same as exploring inside the cave, so we vowed to return again another day.
We found a shady picnic table and enjoyed lunch and some Scrabble before heading for the ferry. For some reason, I just like ferries, with this being a free one, you know, I’m on board! We took the ferry and crossed into Kentucky in about 6 minutes.
We didn’t quite know where the Amish settlement was exactly, so we headed to the town of Marion 11 miles down the road. There, we found the town’s Visitor Center (always a good first stop). Of course, due to Covid-19, it was closed, but there were some brochures in the lobby. The brochure showed us exactly where the Amish settlement was located (closer to the ferry). The brochure also had a map of Marion noting the locations of the stores, shops and restaurants.
We had envisioned, who knows why, that Marion was a smaller town with a high rating on the walk-ability scale. We thought we’d walk to some shops, and then walk to a restaurant for dinner. We were wrong. While we started out walking, we quickly realized the nice simple map on the brochure was not to scale. We did get some steps in towards our daily fitness goal.
Once back to our car, we drove to a local restaurant called “The Front Porch.” Just the Friday before, they began inside dining at what looked like 25% capacity. The food was delicious, the service excellent, and the dining room cool. After our meal, with an hour and a half drive in front of us, we headed back to the ferry and our campsite.
Sometimes, it seems when we visit an area, I am happy with how the day worked out, but then I formulate a plan for “how we’ll do it the next time.” The next time we visit Rend Lake and take a day trip to Cave-in-Rock, we’ll hike into the cave. We’ll take the free ferry again, and then we’ll visit the Amish area. We’ll consider dining on the patio overlook at the state park’s restaurant or perhaps we’ll try one of the Amish places, and if those don’t work out, we can always head back to “The Front Porch.”
In any case, whatever we do, we’ll do what we always do, and that is to make the best of each day. I hope you do the same.