Lifestyle Tips, Travel tips — September 26, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Glamping in the Great Smoky Mountains

13000247_953874528065995_2840298021026256844_nForget the hassle and tedium of regular camping where you’re worn out before you get that first marshmallow over the fire. Glamping is where it’s at, and you’ll find plenty of tony accommodations in beautiful Tennessee.

At Camp LeConte Luxury Outdoor Resort (1739 East Parkway, Gatlinburg, 865-436-8831,, @CampLeConte) on Raccoon Ridge, you can take glamping to another level by securing a luxury tree house. These open-air tree houses offer deluxe accommodations with tree-top views of Mt. LaConte and the Great Smoky Mountains. Outfitted with a queen-size bed and sleeping lofts for two, the tree house offers a good mix of rustic adventure and modern conveniences. A private bath is the tradeoff for no air conditioning (there’s a large fan), but the openings feature screens that let in the fresh mountain air while keeping bugs out.

You won’t have to worry about packing a lot of gear for your stay. Along with a cooler filled with complimentary ice and bottled water, you’ll be met with fresh towels, linens, a small toiletry kit and electrical outlets. And, yes, there’s Wi-Fi. These are decidedly not primitive tree houses.

A covered porch provides an ideal spot for reading or napping, and when it’s time for supper, you’ve got a handy fire pit with a charcoal grill.

Note that the owners want to keep this boutique campground pristine, so there’s no smoking allowed in the tree house, not even on the porch, and pets aren’t allowed, either.

At some point you might want to leave your sanctuary in the trees, but no one would blame you if you didn’t. There’s a handy trolley that stops in front of the camp’s general store about every 45 minutes. From here, you can take the 15-minute ride to Ripley’s Aquarium in downtown Gatlinburg, which does double duty as the trolley’s main terminal. The yellow route from the main terminal takes you to the Great Smoky arts and crafts community, where you can hop on and off at your leisure as you shop or browse local handmade crafts.

The camp also features a heated salt-water swimming pool that’s open from mid-April to early October. Directly across the street from Camp LeConte, you’ll find the Smoky Mountain riding stables.

For at least one breakfast, find a seat at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp (1103 Parkway, Gatlinburg, 865-325-1403,, @crockettscamp). Bring your appetite because the popular rustic eatery offers hefty meals — some served in cast iron skillets. Consider Jake’s Creek skillet crowded with pecan-crusted grilled rainbow trout and two farm fresh eggs. Crockett’s also serves Cherokee sweet corn pone and fried cinnamon rolls.

Note that Camp LeConte closes after the Thanksgiving weekend and reopens in March.