Scenic Resort Bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cabins once lined the town of Fontana, North Carolina; many of these were the homes of the workers who built the Fontana Dam, the tallest dam east of the Mississippi. Nowadays, hikers on the Appalachian Trail pass by Fontana as they make their way through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fontana Village Resort is situated just south of the dam, right near the Appalachian Trail amid views of the mountains, but you don't have to rough it quite like the dam-builders and hikers did—it's a sprawling, upscale lodge with family-friendly activities onsite.
The hotel maintains more than 20 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails in the immediate vicinity, near the Great Smoky Mountains. Trails vary in terrain from meandering, creek-side footpaths along Lewellyn Cove to steep switchbacks. Down at the resort's marina, you can hop on a pontoon boat to navigate the 30-mile-long Fontana Lake during a scenic cruise.
In the Village, the resort's activity hub, you can flash your included recreational passes to get unlimited free rentals of putt-putt clubs and tennis rackets. Also, feel free to toss frisbees down the wooded fairways of the 18-hole disk-golf course. There's also a dance floor at the Recreation Hall; once that begins to settle down late in the night, the party might move outside to a community campfire, where you can roast marshmallows.
Deluxe rooms are situated in the main lodge, which features a lobby with stone pillars, oversize leather couches, and a crackling fireplace. Reserve your room early to get one with a good view—some rooms include private balconies overlooking forested slopes.
Fontana Dam, North Carolina: Historical Settlement amid Smoky Mountains Wilderness
Before it gained protected status, the Fontana area was a coveted resource for logging and copper mining. Today, Fontana Village Resort is a convenient outpost in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Within the park, visitors should check out Cades Cove, an 11-mile loop accessible to both cars and bicycles. The meadows along Cades Cove are regarded as some of the area’s best wildlife-viewing spots—they're often visited by deer, black bears, and picnicking college mascots. Alternatively, head to Clingmans Dome, a 6,600-foot mountain with spectacular panoramic views from the highest point in Tennessee.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.