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By: Robert Janis

Ride Royal Blue

ATVers Make Childhood Playground a Resort

Ride Royal Blue Housing

For Jessica and Jason Westray spending a day riding their ATVs in the Cumberland Mountains area of Tennessee was a family affair. They obviously loved the area because their home was actually in Dayton, Ohio. Jessica can remember being 4 years-old and coming down from Dayton to ride the trails with her mom, brother, and cousins.

The family affair evolved into ATV adventure rides with friends during Jessica’s and Jason’s teenage years. The type of riding available was ideal for adventurous kids who wanted to splash through creeks and race each other on the trails. The region, known as Royal Blue, was a coal mining community and the kids would ride the cut-off roads that were used to transport the coal from the mines. Accommodations were not fancy. The group would simply camp out and huddle close to a campfire at night.

Soon accommodations did become an issue, and the Westray family began planning the creation of an ATV ranch. They purchased land from the locals that included four RV sites, a barn, and a trailer. “We took the trailer off the property, and the barn was converted into a general store,” said Jessica. Then Ride Royal was started. It was 2006. Over time cabins of various sizes have been constructed to accommodate visitors.

Today, Ride Royal has access to 600 miles of trails spread out along 189,000 acres, said Jessica. Her mom, Sheila, owns the ranch; Jessica owns the general store; and Jason runs North Cumberland Rentals, a business on the site where guests can rent ATVs.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency maintains the trails, and it uses funds provided by the state. The trails are of various levels of difficulty. Most are easy to moderate. But there are also rock climbing trails nearby across Interstate-75.  “The trails have been designed as scenic trails,” explained Jessica. “They include seven waterfalls and two lookout points. There is a place called the sand mines which is white sand, and there is an eternal flame of burning natural gas. Elk are being re-introduced into the area as well.”

The Westrays are members of an ATV club known as the Royal Blue Rangers. “They have members from all over the country, and they ride out of here every weekend.” Jessica added that the club sponsors charity rides in the area for such groups as Toys for Tots. Guests can join the Royal Blue Rangers when they do their rides or members of the club have been known to provide guide services. The Westrays are also members of Tread Lightly! and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC).

Obviously, the land around Ride Royal is a wildlife area. So there are other outdoor recreational things people can do including hunting, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding.

Ride Royal Blue mud bogging

Accommodations include a lodge, restaurant, and 28 full-service cabins. The lodge is more than 2,500 square feet and includes casual, comfortable dining and areas in which guests can relax and there is also a big-screen television. The restaurant serves a buffet breakfast and supper. Breakfast is southern style with gravy, biscuits, fried apples, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, and more. You can buy a boxed lunch to take onto the trails. Pizza is also available at the lodge which can be delivered to campsites. From time to time live bands perform on Saturday nights.

There are three styles of cabins--rustic, deluxe and “redneck retreat.” The rustic is a one-room cabin that sleeps up to four people and includes a full bed and one set of bunk beds, heat, air-conditioning, and ceiling fans. The deluxe cabins are larger and sleep up to six people. They include a loft; a queen, full, and sofa beds; a full bathroom with shower and towels; and heat, air conditioning, and ceiling fans. Guests can make coffee, and there is a microwave oven and mini-refrigerator for snacks or more adventurous meals. The “redneck retreats” are two 35-feet, log sided, park model units which include a furnished kitchen. Each unit sleeps six people, and there is a private bedroom with queen-size bed. Both units feature log furniture, heater, and air conditioner. Prices for the cabins range from $75 a night to $150 a night. There are also tent sites which rent for $32 to $55.

When you enter the general store, it is as if you stepped back into the pioneer days. The old-fashioned wooden shelves which hold the products are made from timber taken from the property. It is stocked with typical every day goods including groceries, ice, beverages, clothing, hats, rainwear and jackets, toiletries and sundries, first aid items and pharmaceuticals, firewood and marshmallows, bike accessories, and oil and OHV plus hunting permits.

There is also a pro shop that sells Ride Royal logo apparel, rainwear, riding apparel, helmets, goggles, gloves, bike accessories, repair parts, and oil.

There are also two towns nearby--LaFollette and Caryville--where there are restaurants and more entertainment.

The resort recently started offering promotional packages. It also has a reward program which provides a discount to returning guests.

More information can be found at the website: and on Facebook.

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