State park's cabins fill quickly

Although higher gas prices and lower lake levels have caused some cancellations at state parks, Mistletoe State Park officials said their bookings remain high for their lake-front cottages.

In fact, without a cancellation, officials said you can almost forget booking a cottage during the summer or Masters Week unless you call well in advance.

"That's not all the time, but during our peak season, the summer months, Masters Week, Thanksgiving, those are the highest demanded, and I would say 11 months for them," said Brenda Bettross, a program assistant at Mistletoe, located along Thurmond Lake in northern Columbia County.

The popularity of the lake has been cited by county officials as proof there is a demand for more overnight-stay facilities. The idea recently gained momentum when a master plan that included a lodge and cabins at Wildwood Park was approved. Wildwood is east of Mistletoe along Thurmond Lake and also is in northern Columbia County.

The plan sets out a preliminary vision of a lodge hotel with a restaurant, meeting rooms and 100 overnight-stay rooms at Wildwood. It also calls for 26 cabins with lake views.

Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said the county wants a feasibility study started before the fall and completed in two to three months.

"We would like to have a lodge and or cabins as soon as possible (at Wildwood)," the commission chairman said. "... I don't have any doubt. I think there's a need there, and it's a long, overdue need because the lake is so popular and there's just so much usage all around."

Ms. Bettross said more cottages would be helpful at Mistletoe, too.

"We would like to have 10 more cottages here to be honest with you," she said.

At Mistletoe, she said, there's a seven-night minimum stay for cottages in the summer.

The cost is $110 per night Sundays through Thursdays and $120 a night Fridays and Saturdays.

Cancellations, she said, are allowed 30 days out from the reserved date.

"Actually, this year, we've had quite a few of them (reservation cancellations) with gas prices and the lake water being low," Ms. Bettross said. "... But I would not count on it."

To reserve a stay in a Mistletoe cottage, call (800) 864-7275.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.