Scenic Resort Bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park
To hike the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, most trekkers cross the Little Tennessee River, by way of the Fontana Dam. From the top of the 480-foot-high structure, the tallest dam east of the Mississippi, views of the mountains stretch for miles in every direction. It’s easy to see why hikers often take their time when passing through area, and for visitors of nearby Fontana Village Resort, the lure is just as strong.
The hotel maintains more than 20 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the immediate vicinity. Trails vary in terrain from meandering, creek-side footpaths along Lewellyn Cove to steep switchbacks. Down at the resort's marina, pontoon boats are all revved up to navigate the 30-mile-long Fontana Lake. In the Village, the resort's activity hub, guests can toss frisbees down the wooded fairways of the 18-hole disc-golf course, or test the buoyancy of their cell phones at the Stone Creek Pool and Lazy River. After the dance floor at the Recreation Hall begins to settle down, the party might move outside to a community campfire, where marshmallows will surely meet their match.
Deluxe rooms are situated in the main lodge, which features a lobby with stone pillars, oversize leather couches, and a crackling fireplace. There are also a slew of freestanding cabins, each uniquely designed and furnished with a mix of rugged and modern amenities such as a wood-burning fireplaces, flat-panel TVs, and whirlpool tubs. Visits from April through June come with an included daily breakfast of two eggs cooked to order, choice of breakfast meat, bread, and grits or hash browns.
Fontana Dam, North Carolina: Historical Dam Amid Smoky Mountains Wilderness
The town of Fontana Village sprung up in the early 1940s as a place to house Tennessee Valley Authority workers as they constructed the Fontana Dam. Today, Fontana Village Resort is a convenient outpost to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park— the two nearest entrances are about 50 miles away in either direction, through Townsend, Tennessee, or Cherokee, North Carolina. Within the park, visitors should check out Cades Cove, an 11-mile loop accessible to both cars and bicycles. Regarded as some of the area’s best wildlife viewing spots, the meadows along Cades Cove are often visited by deer, black bears, and picnicking college mascots.