Horseback Riding, Whitewater Rafting, and Live Bluegrass Music at Dude Ranch in Smoky Mountains
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the French Broad Outpost Ranch seems to have been airlifted in from the Old West. The property’s 346 acres contain corrals, pastures, and a cluster of buildings modeled after a pioneer-era town. During the day, you can participate in activities such as horseback riding, cattle driving, and rodeo games; some nights, the ranch hosts square dancing and live bluegrass music. This offer includes all meals and activities, and you can add extra guests to your room for an additional fee.
Shortly after arriving, you’ll attend an orientation during which wranglers will pair you with a horse that you’ll groom, saddle, and ride for the duration of your stay. Daily horseback rides range from a flat terrain walk to a higher elevation climb culminating in spectacular mountain views. Other activities available include whitewater rafting trips along the Big Pigeon River or French Broad River, and fishing right outside the lodge. One of the most popular pastimes, “team penning”, challenges kids and adults alike to corral up to three cows as in a classic rodeo.
Dining and entertainment at the ranch have a western flavor as well. Family-style lunches and dinners featuring fried chicken and pork chops are served at a community table, and every morning guests enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast. After dinner, you can grab a drink in the saloon, where you can dance on some nights to live bluegrass music in the dining hall. At the end of the day, you’ll retire to timber-frame guest rooms adorned with quaint country furnishings.
Del Rio, Tennessee: Small Appalachian Town near Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Located in eastern Tennessee an hour from Knoxville, the small mountain town of Del Rio is surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains on all sides. The region is filled with old-growth trees, river valleys, and a variety of wildlife including deer and black bear. The scenic landscape supports a range of recreational opportunities. More than 600 miles of hiking trails wend through the nearby Cherokee National Forest, and you can raft down seven whitewater rivers. About an hour from Del Rio, the mountain towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer country-music revues and live comedy shows.