A highlight on this leg of our U.S. RV road trip through the state of Kentucky, was The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, an attraction of biblical proportions. Sorry, just had to say that and thought it’s better to get it in there early.
Use the links in the table of contents to skip to Day 27 if you only want to read about and see photos of the Ark Encounter.
RV Road Trip USA Diary Days 25 – 27
Day 25, Sat 13: Chicago to Kentucky
It’s Saturday morning. It’s a travel day and we’re itching to get on the road. After our full day exploring Chicago’s main tourist district yesterday, we decided to drastically dive down south to escape the freeze, but not before an early breakfast at Wendy’s.
Wendy’s done and dusted by 7:30, we reached Williamstown in Kentucky by 14h30, found a Walmart with a level lot to overnight, shopped and settled in for the evening.
We secretly feel guilty if we boondock at Walmarts without shopping. As if they’ll find out and evict us in the middle the night. I’m sure they won’t, but still, just to sooth the conscious we always stock up or buy a little something.
Leah somehow convinced B to buy her a Hatchimal toy so she was in her element caring for it. Little Kate, reluctantly reconciled with her newly weaned status, put her toy baby to sleep play-nursing her, snuggled under the blanky. Heartbreaking! Torture me some more, why don’t you?! Every fibre in my motherly body wanted to take her and nurse her just one last time but I knew it would be counterproductive and it would only make things harder for her.
Instead, we left her to put her baby to sleep and do what Nick nags for all day; play Cluedo. Playing Cluedo is only possible, by the way, when the toddler is distracted or sleeping, because they always “want to play too!”, don’t they? I think I’m the reigning champ. It’s one game that B does not win ALL the time! Will have to check and update that regularly.
Making it up as we go, I finally read up about the Ark Encounter when the kids were in bed.
The Ark Encounter is located only a few miles from Williamstown. My late-night research revealed that it opens later on Sundays at 12 pm. That won’t leave us with enough time to explore and have the famous buffet lunch we can’t wait to dig into. We decided to find a campsite for the next night, chill on Sunday and flock to the Ark for a full day on Monday. Maybe we’ll get lucky and there would be fewer tourists on a weekday.
Besides, we’ve boondocked for three nights in a row. Tanks need to be emptied and refilled. The never-ending laundry that five people generate in five days is piled up again so it’s time for a day off to do it. Urgh!
Further thumb-twiddling on Google, again showed that most RV parks in the area were either closed or fully booked with long-term campers settled in for winter. Winter’s peaking its frosty head around the corner mid-October and hibernation seem to be in full swing in these parts and up north.
- Travel Distance: 330 miles
- Travel Time: 7 hours
- Overnight: Boondock Williamstown Walmart
Dishes and laundry are like the Lord’s mercy – Never-ending!
Day 26, Sun 14 Oct: Rest Day at I-75 Camper Village
The I-75 Camper Village does not have the best reviews. Generally, we try to go with the majority review before we decide, but with little choice, we booked a site for Sunday night.
Despite the bad reviews, we had no problem with I-75 Camper Village in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. The check-in process was smooth. Admittedly, we are easily pleased and it takes a lot before we’d complain, but we got what we paid for, found the campsite satisfactory and it’s only a few miles from The Ark Encounter.
It’s the first RV park where we got the full Halloween vibe. Their decorations rocked, the laundry worked, the pull-through sites were spacious and we could dump and refill as needed. All good.
- Distance Travelled: 5 miles
- Overnight: I-75 Camper Village $45
Day 27, Mon 15 Oct: The Ark Encounter, Williamstown
Explored The Ark Encounter from 9 am to 3 pm; that’s including a fabulous buffet lunch at a decent price.
If you’re ever in the area, no matter what your beliefs, just go check it out. I know there was and is a lot of controversy around this experience, but the humungous construction, world-class exhibits with clear methodical explanations, the science behind it, and of course, the buffet are worth the visit.
It brings the biblical story of Noah’s Ark to life. On entrance, sounds of roaring thunder and rain set the scene. On a tour over three decks, you discover the way Noah and his family likely lived – very interesting, how they looked after the animals, life-size models of some of the animals they likely had in there (which may surprise most people), and what happened during and after the flood.
I have a newfound respect for archaeology and science because it is often what brings the most compelling discoveries and arguments when we debate fact or fiction, irrespective of faith.
This is the point where I bombard you with photo’s so that you can get a glimpse of the experience yourself, but there is so much more. Enjoy!
The Ark is 510 feet (155m) long, 85 feet (26m) wide, and 51 feet (15,5m) high.
Little legs didn’t get too tired and didn’t even ask for the buggy. The kids found it as interesting as we did most of the time, but eventually, they got distracted, annoyed by the growing crowd and eager to get to the buffet nearer the end.
My top tip would be to go as early as possible to get in there first. Going on a Monday morning didn’t save us from droves of visitors either! What’s it like on a weekend, I wonder? Must be jampacked. As the morning gets on you’ll move slower between exhibits as more people stream in. There is a lot of reading involved and people linger, as they should to take it all in.
There is a petting zoo inside and outside the ark and a Village Market for food and shopping, but it may be seasonal because it was all quiet when we were there.
Loved the little armadillos! I think next to manatees and chimps, they must be my new favourite animal. You’ll find excellent restroom facilities on decks and a gift shop at the end where you can also buy your standard theme park photos at what I always think is an astronomical price for what it is. We don’t always buy them. Didn’t buy them at the Chicago Skydeck, but we got them this time.
“The Ark is an attraction that should be visited — if only because it’s unlikely that you’ll ever visit anything else like it.Ark Encounter was designated the “Sight of the Week” for January 1–7, 2018, by Doug Kirby’s RoadsideAmerica.com.
As believers, it was an awesome experience to be inside a realistic replica of Noah’s Ark; mind-blowing in fact. As homeschoolers, we got so much out of the clearly explained engineering, archaeological and scientific side of it. Not to mention the marvellous display of an ancient way of life and new insight into religious studies.
We highly recommend the sit-down buffet at the restaurant. The food was delicious and the decor is fantastic. A well-designed self-service process, food dishes constantly refilled, fresh and kept at the right temperature combined with ready staff to clear away, is what makes this very busy restaurant function like a well-oiled machine.
Ark Encounter Tickets
There are different ticket options and seasonal offers on their website. You can buy a combo ticket for the Ark Encounter and The Creation Museum nearby, but we only wanted to see the Ark this time.
One-day ticket to the Ark
+ free Explore More ticket
|Adult (ages 18–59)||$48|
|Senior (ages 60+)||$38|
|Youth (ages 11–17)||$25|
|Children (ages 5–10)||$15|
|Children (ages 4 and under)||FREE|
Emzara’s Buffet Prices
- Adults: $14,50
- Children: $6 (5-12yrs)
- Under 4’s: Free
- Seniors: $10.99
Prices are correct at the time of publication, but please check the relevant website for up to date information.
At the end of the day, we drove to Corbin to be ready for our next attraction and more travel to warmer weather the next morning.
- Distance Travelled (Williamstown to Corbin): 134 miles
- Time Travelled: 2,5hrs
- Overnight: Free – Boondock Walmart, Corbin
Have you been to The Ark Encounter or would you like to go if you could?