Cozy Cabins Tucked in Great Smoky Mountains
To prepare for winter in the Great Smoky Mountains during the mid 19th century, frontier families constructed tiny log cabins to shelter them from the heavy snow, often rarely venturing outdoors until springtime. Today, Mountain Vista Log Cabins are settled in the same secluded area but instead serve as base camps to embrace the winter landscape or to enjoy the spring months in the mountains. Families can set up to ski and hike throughout the Smokies, then retire to these rustic and charming properties, which lie along Alarka Creek, nestled in the mountains just outside Bryson City.
The cabins' woodsy décor echoes their natural surroundings; each dwelling is trimmed with wood-paneled walls and thick quilts. An outdoor hot tub provides a tranquil setting to ease muscles fatigued from trying to lift up boulders to rescue trapped snowmen. The roomy Eagle's Nest cabin sits steps from Alarka Creek's rushing creeks, and a private porch and rocking chairs look toward the waters, where anglers can fish for trout. In the Smokies cabin, an old-fashioned fireplace glows amid natural wood accents. Before hiking the Smokies, breakfast can be whipped up in the full kitchen.
Bryson City, North Carolina: Small-Town Charm with Nearby Skiing Resort
Tucked in North Carolina's southwest corner, the small town of Bryson City sits in the Smoky Mountains' woodsy slopes. The bisecting Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers create picturesque waterfalls throughout the mountainous terrain, a natural setting for yearlong outdoor recreation. On clear days, one can catch a 360-degree view of the entire range from the 6,500-foot Clingmans Dome, the national park's highest point.
In winter, the Cataloochee Ski Area hosts 16 illuminated trails and slopes on its challenging downhill course. Once all the snow thaws or is exported as ice cubes to Hawaii, whitewater rafting and kayaking become popular attractions at nearby Nantahala Gorge. And Bryson City charms visitors with antique stores, handcrafted pottery, and house-made chocolate amid the natural landscape.