Commentary: Can’t get away for a vacation? Explore options in Western Clark County

Mad River Gorge is a Clark County attraction. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Mad River Gorge is a Clark County attraction. Bill Lackey/Staff

Summer vacation. Yep, I can see all the photos. People from Bethel and Mad River Township are out there seeing the world this summer. They are taking selfies with famous landmarks, and posting them on Facebook. Many of you are at the beach or hiking the mountains. One of you even swam in the famous pool in the sky in Houston last week. My sister leaves for China next week. Can you tell I’m jealous?

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Meanwhile, there are those of us who cannot get away this summer. Maybe it’s the money. Yeah, it is probably the money for most of us. Or maybe it’s that days off cannot be coordinated, or perhaps there are no vacation days to use. For some of us, life is so filled with events and responsibilities that we just cannot escape this year.

Welcome to the club.

We can pout or we can bloom where we are planted. Yep. Right here in western Clark County we can bloom and savor every lovely day of summer. It is the season to take time to smell the roses.


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We may not have a week to get away but that does not mean we cannot take an afternoon or even just two hours to relax and relish. We can take mini-vacations here all summer long while keeping up with the responsibilities life has given us. To make it even better we won’t have to spend hours in the car and pay the high dollars at the gas station.

Luckily we live in one of the most beautiful sections of the state and we have this amazing river that flows through our community. In a world full of pollution, and algae, the Mad River is a long verdant oasis waiting to be explored.

Renting or borrowing a canoe or tube make it possible to float blissfully through shady green scenery. We may not be far away from our normal lives, but the trees along the river protect us from the sounds of the world. We can listen to the birds, dip our toes in the cool current and breathe deeply.

The Mad River is ours to enjoy. It is beautiful, but it also demands our respect. Be careful as you enjoy it. Remember, life jackets are your friends. Never swim alone. And please don’t leave any trash along the river.

Hiking and walking are free. There are many places to hike in our well preserved wooded areas. Look at a map of our end of the county and you will see lots and lots of green spaces. These parks are there for you to enjoy.

Every day we drive by George Rogers Clark Park, the Wenrick Wetlands, the Spangler Nature Preserve, but have we recently stopped and looked around? There always seems to be an available spot in the parking lot.

In addition to lush natural vegetation, these parks have well-maintained trails, picnic shelters, and a great free place to fish at Hosterman Lake at George Rogers Clark Park. If you want a challenging hike go to the Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve and watch those who dare to scale the cliffs.

Ice cream is not free, but simple cones are relatively inexpensive. We have so many places to go get an ice cream cone that it is hard to pass up. Why not check them all out? Or you can be economical and buy a gallon and make sundaes, and shakes at home.

Our area has numerous multiple use trails that are paved. These long scenic bike trails are handicap accessible and there is no admission. You don’t have to ride a bike to use these trails. If you want to take a walk in the woods, but have to push a stroller, these trails are the perfect place. You will still see deer, squirrels, and all sorts of wild animals.

Since eagle-eyed kids point out every playground we pass, summer is the perfect time to finally say okay. Plant yourself on a bench and enjoy a book as the little ones swing and slide to their hearts content.

Don’t pout if you cannot get away this summer. Summer vacation is all about relaxation which you can do quite nicely in your own backyard and in a neighboring park. The only real limitation is your own imagination.

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