Scenic Resort next to 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 and boasting gorgeous views of the mountains. But you don’t have to rough it like the dam builders and hikers did—the resort is a sprawling upscale lodge with family-friendly activities ranging from mini golf to mountain biking.
- Accommodations: Rooms and Cabanas are situated in the lodge complex, which features a lobby with stone pillars, oversize leather couches, and a cozy fireplace.
- Explore the Great Smoky Mountains via more than 20 miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails in the immediate vicinity.
- Take a pontoon ride from the onsite marina to navigate the 30-mile-long Fontana Lake.
- Friendly competition: mini golf, disk golf, tennis courts, sand volleyball, basketball
Fontana Dam, North Carolina: Historical Settlement amid Great Smoky Mountains Wilderness
Before it gained protected status, the Fontana area was a coveted resource for logging and copper mining. Today, travelers can visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 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, you could head to Clingmans Dome, a 6,600-foot mountain with spectacular panoramic views from Tennessee’s highest point.