Lodging Accommodations in the Great Smoky Mountains, with Video and Pics
The beautiful Smoky Mountains
The Smoky Mountains are part of the Southern Appalachian chain and are located in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. ln the heart of the region lies the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States. This is a stunnigly beautiful region, with tall blue-green peaks, noisy streams and rivers, rushing waterfalls, and lots of wildlife. There's also plenty to do in the Smoky Mountains, including hiking, rock climbing, snow skiing, fishing, horseback riding, boating, whitewater rafting, sightseeing, and more. In tourist hotspots like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, you can ride go-carts, take in shows, bungee jump, ice skate, enjoy a roller coaster, and shop till you drop! If you’re planning a smoky mountain vacation, you’ll have lots of choices for great Smoky Mountain lodging!
Rentals in the Smoky Mountains include motels, hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, rustic cabins, luxurious cabins, chalets, and resorts. Larger cities like Gatlinburg also have numerous condos available for people visiting the Smoky Mountains.
Lodging inside the Smoky Mountain Park: Within the national park itself, there’s only one place to lodge: Le Conte Lodge. It’s located at the summit of Mount Le Conte, at over 6,000 feet tall. You’ll have to hike to reach the lodge, and depending on the trail you take, it could be as long as eight miles.
For those looking for a bit more traditional and easier-to-reach Smoky Mountain rental, no problem! Towns just outside the park offer plenty of accommodations for mountain vacations! On the North Carolina side, you can choose among Cherokee, Bryson City, Fontana, and Maggie Valley. On the Tennessee side, there’s Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, and Townsend. If you’re looking for a place near the ever-popular Cade’s Cove and one with lots of attractions and restaurants, pick Gatlinburg.
Great Smoky Mountains cabins and chalets: You can find Great Smoky Mountains cabin rentals in and around all the cities mentioned. Some of these cabins are very secluded, while others are near the hustle and bustle of downtown areas. Cabins range from rustic to luxurious, and many include features like outdoor hot tubs and game rooms with arcades, pool tables, and foosball. Some of the cabins, especially those near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, offer all kinds of opulent services. You can have gift baskets waiting for you upon your arrival, or you can order a private massage. The massage therapist will come to your cabin to give you a relaxing massage – or even better, a massage for two! This is a favorite with honeymooners and is often part of a honeymoon package deal. The best places to find gorgeous chalets are in and near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Smoky Mountains hotels and motels: In the cities outside the park, you find all kinds of motels and hotels. Several are located on the banks of creeks and rivers. These range from old units to brand new ones. You’re sure to find one to fit your budget and your individual taste.
Smoky Mountains condos
On a recent trip to Gatlinburg, we stayed several days in one of the great Gatlinburg condos. It was just a block off the main drag, so the location was perfect. It was just a short walk to restaurants, shops, amusements, and the air tram to Ober Gatlinburg. Like many Gatlinburg condos, ours had an outdoor swimming pool and free parking. The parking was definitely a big plus. If you've ever been to Gatlinburg, you know that finding a place to park can be a real problem. By staying in one of the Gatlinburg condos, however, the problem will be solved!
Smoky Mountains camping: You’ll find numerous campgrounds in the Smokies, ranging from back-to-nature primitive campsites to sites with full RV hookups, trout ponds, hot showers, laundries, game rooms, boat rentals, gift shops, lakes, camp stores, restaurants, miniature golf, hot tubs, playgrounds, streams, waterfalls, horseback riding, snowboarding, kayaking, canoeing, water slides, and swimming pools. Choose one in Bryson City, Fontana, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Maggie Valley, Townsend, Sevierville, or on the reservation at Cherokee.
Camping within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Several camping options are available inside the park. These include backcountry camping, frontcountry camping, group camping, and horse camping.
Backcountry camping: This requires hiking to the campsites. The hike might be several miles into the wilderness.
Frontcountry camping: Here, you’ll camp near your car and enjoy a picnic table, a fire ring, cold running water, and restrooms.
Group campgrounds: These are located in the frontcountry camping areas and can accommodate groups of more than eight campers.
Horse camping: These are small camping areas, accessible by vehicles. They provide horse hitch racks and primitive camping.
Smoky Mountain resorts
Fontana Village Resort: Located in the Nantahala Forest of North Carolina, this resort provides tent and RV campsites, rooms and suites in the lodge, and cabin rentals. For a really unique vacation, stay on one of the lodge’s houseboats on Fontana Lake! At Fontana, you can enjoy the spa, the marina, the swimming pools, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and dining in one of the restaurants.
Sherwood Forest Resort: Located at Pigeon Forge, this gated resort offers one, two, four, six, and seven-bedroom luxurious cabins at affordable prices. Amenities include a swimming pool and a large conference center. Many cabins are complete with outdoor hot tubs, bedside Jacuzzis, home theaters, and internet access.
Lakeview at Fontana: This resort touts itself as “rustic chic.” The architecture is Mediterranean, and the amenities include a swimming pool, a spa, a gourmet coffeehouse, and a yoga studio. Several outdoor areas provide places to unwind and soak up the scenery, including a charming courtyard.
Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Spa: Located in Gatlinburg, this wooded resort features hiking trails, a 24-hour market, a lounge, room service meals, arcades, a fitness center, heated swimming pools, riding stables, a 50,000-square foot indoor water adventure, and an award-winning restaurant.
Little Valley Mountain Resort: Located in Pigeon Forge, Little Valley provides secluded log cabin rentals. Special features include a swimming pool, three fishing ponds, miniature golf, and hiking. Some of the cabins have hot tubs, air hockey, Jacuzzis, and pool tables.
Harrah’s Great Smoky Mountains Resort and Casino: Harrah’s is located in Cherokee, North Carolina. It consists of 15-story towers, a casino, restaurants, underground parking, a luxurious spa, a conference center, a coffee bar, an indoor swimming pool, a workout room, a babbling creek, and an arcade. This is a beautiful facility owned and operated by the Cherokee Indians. The lobby is breathtaking, with huge tree trunk columns, a large stone fireplace, cathedral ceiling, and Native American art. All 576 rooms are spacious and boast a four-star rating.
Best time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains
Honestly, any time of the year is a great time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains! In the summer, the mountains and valleys are lush, green, and cool. In autumn, the Smoky Mountains explode in a riot of colors with the fall foliage. In the winter months, you can snow ski and snow sled and do some great shopping. In spring, you'll see all kinds of wildflowers, along with chances to see newborn baby wildlife.
If you're worried about crowds, keep the following in mind. During October, travel can be extremely slow because of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Christmas is often almost as bad. For less crowds around cities like Gatlinburg, go in September or November. Whenever you decide to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, you're sure to have a wonderful time!
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