In Bracken County, just outside of Germantown, is a place where visitors can immerse themselves in the outdoors while still enjoying some creature comforts.
“This was the brainchild of Shelly and I and it had been for a while,” says Bill Byrne, who co-owns and operates EarthJOY Tree Adventures with his wife, Shelly. “We kind of put our hearts and souls into something we felt like people could enjoy and disconnect and get back to nature a little bit, and while they’re doing it have some of the comforts of home. Everybody who comes here comes away feeling like they’ve really experienced something new and exciting.”
The 200-acre property has plenty of space for hiking, climbing, and enjoying nature. But the unique appeal of the location comes from the elaborate treehouses where guests can stay. One of the structures was designed and built by Pete Nelson, known as the Treehouse Master.
“He’s on Animal Planet and he does the Treehouse Master show, and he goes around and builds treehouses for people,” Bill explains. “He’s an expert. He’s written books and traveled the world and he knows just about everything there is to know about treehouses.”
The Pete Nelson treehouse at EarthJOY incorporates some distinctly Kentucky touches, like a fence around the porch made from tobacco stakes and a barn door that allows the house to open up to the outdoors.
“The one thing that stands above all is how he anchors them to the tree [in a way] that protects the tree, keeps it healthy, and it’s really sturdy,” says Bill. “This treehouse has been through some storms.”
The other treehouse on the property is named after Bill and Shelly’s granddaughter, Aliyah.
“We want this one to be whimsical and more magical,” says Shelly. “We have a swinging bridge in it. This one can sleep six. It’s called The Aliyah after my granddaughter. She helped build it. I’d send her in every other day and I’d [tell the builders], ‘you need to build this around her. If she can find a hole, you need to fix it,’ and they did.”
The treehouses have electricity and air conditioning along with luxury bedding and a full kitchenette. But they don’t include TVs.
“We try to get them to disconnect as much as they can and kind of get back in touch of nature,” says Bill.
“We just wanted to create a place that’s magical,” adds Shelly. “Bring back those magical childlike adventures.”
This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2401, which originally aired on October 6, 2018. Watch the full episode.