A new visitor’s center, improved campgrounds and a new heritage trail are some of the changes planned this spring at Rough River Dam State Resort Park.
Park Manager Diane Stratton said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and volunteers from Friends of Rough River Lake teamed up to convert a house across the road from the Corps project office into the visitor’s center.
“I’m very proud of the visitor’s center,” she said, explaining that the Corps received a $30,000 grant to help remodel the house, and the Friends kicked in $20,000 plus a lot of labor.
“Ever since January, they’ve been here five days a week working on that building,” Stratton said recently. “It’s a work in progress.”
The house was completely gutted, with the living room converted into a front desk and information center, and the garage into a meeting center that can seat at least 24 people. Rounding out the space will be an office for the Friends, a gift shop and an area where children can see, touch and feel exhibits pertaining to the park.
An outdoor gazebo — donated by the Breckinridge County Area Technology Center — looking over a beautiful view of the lake, will offer space for outdoor events and will anchor an outdoor learning area.
A key offering in the new center will be tourism information. Because regulations prohibit advertising in federal buildings, the Corps project office — now the de facto visitor’s center — hasn’t been able to offer information on area restaurants or businesses that tourists might want to visit. The Corps building also isn’t open on weekends, when a lot of out-of-town visitors are at Rough River Lake.
The new center will have a “business wall” with tourism information, and will be staffed on the weekends. It will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 19, in conjunction with the Rough River Lake Heritage Trail Festival.
The festival, in its second year, helps reinforce that there “is so much more to do in Grayson and Breckinridge counties” in addition to visiting the lake, Statton said. Vendors will be selling hand-made, old-fashioned crafts, tours will be offered of a restored cabin, and brochures detailing the new bi-county heritage trail — a self-guided driving tour — will be available.
Stratton said the governor and several federal representatives have been invited to the dedication.
The corps opened the Axtel campgrounds on April 1 this year, and will be opening the remaining campgrounds except half of Cave Creek this week.
Cave Creek — the only campground on the Grayson County side of the lake — is getting a major overhaul. The boat launch area has been expanded and can now accomodate parking for about 25 vehicles and trailers.
Electrical and water connections are being added to many of the campsites in the lower portion of the campground, and the shower house is being expanded, Stratton said.
The Corps is doing the work in-house, which means it might take a little longer, she said.
“It will be a little inconvenient now, but it will be so much nicer when we’re done,” Stratton said, adding the suggestions for the improvements came from customer comment cards the Corps leaves around the park.
The Axtel campgrounds are also getting a facelift, but that work will be done by contractors throughout the year, she said.
Also planned there is another customer-suggested change — a fish cleaning station, Stratton said.
“We’re doing the work on that in-house,” she said. “We’re going to see how it goes: if there’s no vandalism, if its kept clean and is popular, well look at putting them in every campground.”