Upscale Log Cabins Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Although North Carolina and Tennessee share custody of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina is often touted as the quieter side, thanks to fewer crowds. Watershed Cabins—located outside Bryson City, North Carolina—take advantage of this solitude, scattered on 50 acres amid the wilderness. But as Charleston magazine travel correspondent Stephanie Hunt put it after a stay here, "Our base camp was a far cry from roughing it." Each cabin is equipped with air conditioning, in-unit washers and dryers, and full kitchens.
Soaring cathedral ceilings with exposed beams, timber balconies, and stone fireplaces make up each of the modern log cabins, and all are equipped with a hot tub. Though the freestanding cottages are scattered throughout the property, several are loosely clustered at the Watershed's center courtyard, which features a playground and a teepee. The yard also has a hiking path that culminates with a waterfall, trout pond, and a magician that pulls fishing licenses out of a bucket hat. Guests flock to the center to play bocce ball and other yard games, and roast marshmallows around the fire pit. To take advantage of each cabin’s full kitchen, it’s possible to stock up on groceries in nearby Bryson City, located less than 10 miles away.
Bryson City, North Carolina: Whitewater Rafting and Mountain Biking in the Smokies
The low-key town of Bryson City is a gateway to mountain recreation on the North Carolina side of the Smokies. Visitors can travel roughly 25 miles into Great Smoky Mountains National Park to take in the park's more notable sights, including Clingman's Dome and Cades Cove.
There’s a wide range of activities outside the park, too. The Nantahala River features Class II and III rapids, which is a nice, steady level for families and first-timers looking to take a raft trip. The Nantahala is a bit tamer than its neighboring river, the Chattooga, whose rushing whitewater served as a setting in the film Deliverance.
Nearby, the Tsali Recreation Area features nearly 40 miles of single-track bike trails, in four loops. Mountain bikers can pedal through the foothills of the Smokies and along the shores of Fontana Lake.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.