Stream-View Rooms and a River Walk along the Roaring Fork Stream
The Roaring Fork stream cascades through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and into Gatlinburg, a town in the foothills of eastern Tennessee. All year, visitors can view the mountain stream from the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a 6-mile driving path through the National Park. Along the way, the Roaring Fork winds through old-growth forests and past historic farmsteads dotted with old-fashioned log cabins and gristmills. But guests at Brookside Resort need not go any further than their own private balconies to get a view: the stream runs right past the resort, which lies only half mile from downtown Gatlinburg.
Despite its backwoods surroundings, the resort’s guest rooms have an elegant feel with contemporary bedding and modern amenities, such as flat-screen TVs and whirlpool tubs. Some even include wood-burning fireplaces. In the morning, head to the breakfast room for a free hot continental breakfast featuring Brookside Breakfast Bowls—home fries covered with grilled veggies, bacon, eggs, and colby cheese—and other hot breakfast items.
Options 3, 4, and 5 include two whitewater-rafting passes from Nantahala Outdoor Center. On this guided Pigeon River adventure, you’ll spend an hour and a half tackling a 5-mile stretch of whitewater along Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Class III and IV rapids prove challenging for some, but all skill levels are welcome on the trip.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Charming Artists’ Village amid Great Smoky Mountains
Gatlinburg rests near Tennessee's eastern border, less than 3 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, you can hike more than 100 trails that wind past waterfalls and pioneer-era log cabins tucked deep within densely forested mountains. Or, take a bicycle ride on the 11-mile loop through Cades Cove, a broad valley of open meadows where you can see deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and vacationing college mascots. Clingmans Dome, the park’s highest point of elevation at 6,643 feet, is a great place to catch the sunset.
Gatlinburg's main attraction is probably the Arts & Crafts Community. It's comprised of more than 100 craft shops, studios, and cafés, and you can watch artisans as they hand weave baskets and whittle wooden figurines. Downtown Gatlinburg itself is a mountain village filled with old-fashioned ice-cream shops and boutiques selling housemade jams and decorative gewgaws.