Secluded Lodge High in the Appalachian Mountains
After spending 30 years raising her family, Vikki Woods struck out on her own to fulfill her lifelong dream: building a lodge bed and breakfast in the Appalachian Mountains. She was only looking for 10 acres of land, but when she found a 140-acre parcel right next to the Cherokee National Forest, she knew she had to sign the papers. She packed her life up in a horse trailer and moved to Butler, Tennessee, to oversee the construction of what is now the Iron Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast. It’s a fine tribute to her vision: the log-cabin bed and breakfast is set high up in the Appalachians—with sweeping views of Roan Mountain—and it's the only building you can see in any direction.
To take full advantage of the peaceful solitude, you can relax on the hammock on the deck or borrow one of the lodge’s books and read on a cushy chair in the great room. In the afternoon, light snacks are served. There’s also a bottomless cookie jar in the great room, which the lodge constantly refills with house-baked chocolate-chip cookies. The front porch has wicker rockers, and there's a little garden path that winds around the inn, leading to hiking paths through the woods.
In the morning at the lodge, you can head downstairs to the kitchen and dining room to enjoy a lavish three-course breakfast, which includes french toast, individual soufflés, sausage, and fried eggs. If the weather's nice, feel free to dine out on the large deck; if it's raining, there’s a private table for two waiting next to the fireplace.
There are only four rooms upstairs at the Iron Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast, and all feature whirlpool tubs and private balconies or big windows that look out over Appalachian scenery. Each room has its own unique décor theme, too. The Green room, for instance, has a balcony door that opens directly to views of the sunset, and inside, there is a painted tree leaning over the bed's headboard.
Butler, Tennessee: Flooded with History and Close to the Appalachian Trail
The small town of Butler, Tennessee, sits near Watauga Lake in the northeastern corner of Tennessee, located about 20 miles south of the Virginia state line. You could actually call it Butler 2.0: the original Butler is submerged in Watauga Lake. Around the time of the construction of the Watauga Dam in 1948, the “new” Butler was incorporated on a higher patch of land, and the old version of the city was left to a new life underwater. Visitors to Butler can see the history of "the town that wouldn't drown" at The Butler Museum or go fishing for old Model Ts in the lake.
To up your dosage of history, you can stop by the Gray Fossil Museum, located about a 43.5-mile drive from the inn in the town of Gray. The fossil site was discovered by highway workers in 2000 and appears to have been the location of an old sinkhole and an ancient pond. There’s an ongoing dig going on around this museum that has turned up fossils of an ancient rhino and a rare species of red panda.
The natural landscape is the real draw of this area of Tennessee, though; the Appalachian and Iron Mountains spread as far as the eye can see, and caves, waterfalls, and hiking trails are abundant. Twelve miles from the Iron Mountain Inn Bed and Breakfast, you’ll find sections of the famous Appalachian Trail that are excellent for a daylong hiking trip. The inn is also close to North Carolina's Blowing Rock, a cliff where light objects such as leaves are thrown over the edge and then blow back like a boomerang.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.