he perfect getaway should fulfill two things—the ability to do everything and the ability to do nothing. Look no further than Haywood County in western North Carolina. The possibilities are vast, whether you’re looking for a jaw-dropping mountain view, communing with wildlife, or quiet time with a good read.
In this remote area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cataloochee Campground is known for the roaming elk that were reintroduced to the park in 2001. Watch them along with white-tailed deer, wild turkey, butterflies, a variety of birds, and more across a view of wildflowers in the Smokies. And let’s not forget activities. Enjoy horseback riding in the Cataloochee horse camp, hike a cool 3.9 miles through the Boogerman Trail off the Caldwell Fork Trail, and fish by the streams at these low-key spots. That means plenty of space to roam without large crowds. While there, you can explore several historic structures and schoolhouses, and stop by the nearby Palmer House for a self-guided tour. Expect to feel refreshed and energized after this nature-filled excursion.
Cataloochee Entrance Rd, Waynesville. (828) 497-9270, recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/233284
If you want an intimate place for two or a luxury cabin for fourteen, Buffalo Creek Cabins offers it and everything in between—even two fully furnished train caboose rentals stocked with amenities. At this quaint, family-owned ranch, enjoy a wood-burning fireplace, game room, fully stocked kitchen, hot tub, and a deck with bison views. Don’t miss out on Breakfast with Bison, complete with local coffee from Smoky Mountain Roasters, warm cinnamon buns from Nettie’s Bakery, and a variety of other treats to nosh on while experiencing the morning bison feeding. Just minutes from Asheville, Buffalo Creek is an ideal log cabin destination—home on the range, indeed.
Rates vary, (828) 550-0960, buffalocreekvacationsnc.com
Get your glamp on in a canvas tent cabin with a covered porch, queen mattress, luxury bedding, and an outdoor creekside shower for a picturesque overnight glamping experience. Tents come fully stocked with pastries and breakfast items, one of the many quaint touches that round out the experience. A short drive from Waynesville’s best restaurants and breweries, Smoky Mountain Glamping is perfect for a snug weekend getaway for two. Share a cozy tent, grill outside, dine on the porch, and explore the area. Definitely a lodging upgrade for a remote weekend trip out-of-doors.
$145 per night, (828) 734-5597, visitncsmokies.com/accommodations/smoky-mountain-glamping