- Dacey Orr For the AJC
Camping may be fun, but not everyone is cut out for roughing it. Some folks need a little more waiting for them after a long day of adventures than a sleeping bag and a flimsy tent. Here are five ways to experience the nature of the Smoky Mountains without pitching a tent yourself.
Falling Water Adventure Resort
10345 U.S. 19/74, Bryson City, N.C. 800-451-9972. fallingwatersresort.com
Those who aren't afraid to get their feet wet during the day (but prefer a cozy bed at night) will find an apt home away from home in Falling Water Adventure Resort, a North Carolina getaway that offers affordable yurt rentals to accommodate its sporty clientele. Activities at the resort include river rafting, canopy tours and zip lines, and visitors who choose to stay in the yurts can also enjoy amenities like fresh linens, a private fridge, and individual coffee maker. Those who stay will still get a taste of the campsite life — picnic tables, a shared bath house, and charcoal grills ensure that guests can still get their fix of the outdoors.
North Georgia Canopy Tours
5290 Harris Road, Lula, Ga. 770-869-7272. northgeorgiacanopytours.com
Don't knock tent camping until you try it with North Georgia Canopy Tours, whose tepees are fully equipped with electricity, running water, and air conditioning — a must for anyone who knows just how hot a Georgia summer can get. The accommodations range in size and can sleep up to 10 guests. Order breakfast at check-in for an additional bit of luxury and be sure to book a zip-line tour to experience the great Smoky Mountains from the trees.
1739 E. Parkway, Gatlinburg, Tenn. 865-436-8831. campleconte.com
The campsites at this East Tennessee getaway run the gamut from standard piece of land to luxury treehouse, offering a distinct experience for outdoorsy types of all ranges. Those who opt for the most decked-out digs will find themselves sleeping in the open air among the tree tops and enjoying a covered patio, full private bathroom, and a beautiful view of Mount LeConte. Free board game rental ensures you'll have plenty to do when you unplug, while free Wi-Fi ensures you'll have access to the outside world when and if you need it, too.
Various sites. 828-450-9745. ashevilleglamping.com
There's a pretty long list of reasons to visit Asheville, N.C. The restaurants are incredible, breweries abound, and unique, friendly small businesses thrive in this laid-back mountain town. But one of the best things about Asheville is its proximity to nature. Within minutes, visitors can go from the downtown experience to a rustic mountain cabin, making this the ideal destination for groups with mixed intentions. Asheville Glamping offers accommodations that range from vintage Airstreams to mini yurts and picturesque domes. Each site offers an array of amenities, and those looking for comfortable, rustic sleeping arrangements will likely find something that suits them.
The Yurts at Sky Ridge
200 Sky Ridge Drive, Bryson City, N.C. 704-701-5696. skyridgeyurts.com
Most campers don't take vacations with the intention of sitting inside and watching television, but The Yurt at Sky Ridge folks aren't taking any chances: flat screen TVs, walk-in showers, kitchen appliances are among the amenities offered in these structures — and that's not taking into account the killer views.