By Darryl Payne
Posted on February 16, 2014
An authentic log cabin combined with modern amenities to deliver maximum comfort brings you a whole new appreciation for the wonders of the Smokies. As opposed to a hotel or even resort, in a cabin you merely step outside your door and into some of the most stunning natural settings in the USA. In most cases, a beautifully appointed cabin will be more spacious than any hotel room, at rates matching or even below that of a hotel.
To be sure you get everything you're searching for in a cabin rental (and nothing you're not!) we'll share a little advance knowledge about finding and renting cabins in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and the surrounding areas.
What to know about getting there
The wide range of cabin rental options around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge means you can choose accommodations in a community or subdivision, or get into the higher elevations that afford privacy and amazing mountain views.
Because you'll be driving in and around the Smokies, it's always wise to consider a pre-visit trip to your mechanic to get your brakes, shocks and tires checked. No matter where you stay, if you plan to drive in the mountains you may be navigating unpaved roads and curvy hills.
Maps, of course, are your friend – and not just Google, GPS or smartphone directions. You'll want to have some printed maps as a reliable backup should your electronics become inaccessible. If you choose a cabin in the higher or more rustic elevations, streetlamps are not a feature of those mountain roads. Ask your rental office for detailed printed maps of your Smoky Mountain destination and directions on how to plot the main mountains (like Cove, Little Round Top, Hatcher and Bluff) and resort communities like Hickory Hollow or Dogwood Farms.
What to bring on the trip
A Smoky Mountain log cabin is a comfortable, casual environment, and the styles range from a cozy chalet to a luxurious estate. Some cabins are highly convenient to shopping and attractions like Dollywood. Others, up in the mountains, let you tap into your pioneer spirit. For more rustic locations, your packing list should include all the staples covering your trip, plus extra food, toiletries and medications.
• Layers of moisture-wicking clothing help protect you from variances of temperature and precipitation
• Well-fitting, broken-in hiking boots are a must.
• Sunscreen and bug spray are essential
• Pack your perishable food securely in ice-filled coolers
• Bring your own charcoal and lighter fluid if you plan to grill outside
• Remember the charger for your phone and other devices
Questions for your cabin rental office:
“How does your company work?” Like all manner of guest accommodations, cabin rental offices are open only during specific hours. Depending on the location and amenities of your rental, you may or may not have daily maid service or on-the-spot maintenance. Much depends on the specific cabin rental company, so create a list of questions you'd want answered about office hours, getting cabin keys, maintenance, food and emergency access.
“How private is my cabin?” Your cabin may be close by another, or off on its own in a remote destination. Don't rely on pictures to judge. If privacy is important to you, ask for specifics.
“What is your snow policy?” While snow in the Smokies can make for beautiful scenery, it's all too easy to underestimate how quickly it can pile up. This is particularly true in less-traveled areas where municipal snowplows and other equipment may not reach. Keep in mind, your car can become a sled when driving on snowy hills. If visiting the Smoky Mountains in the wintertime, ask your rental office about ice and cliffside towing, snow policies and guarantees, so that even in a blizzard you know what to expect.
What you may find in your cabin
Depending on the level of accommodation you choose, your Smoky Mountain cabin may be simple lodging or something more luxury-minded. It is common to find hot tubs, wood or gas fireplaces, grills, Murphy beds, satellite TV and other high-end options in your cabin . If you are unsure how to use such amenities, ask the rental office for direction and instruction. You do not want to incur property damage fees by misusing the equipment.
You need only look out from your cabin's porch or balcony to get the big picture of the remarkable Smoky Mountain area. But you are in the midst of nature, so just as with any other vacation, watch for seasonal insects like ladybugs, bees and wasps in rural, mountainous areas. The well water may contain natural amounts of sulfur or iron – it's safe to drink, but unusual to the taste buds at first. You may prefer to bring your own bottled water.
Know your view
There's no such thing as a single view of the Smoky Mountains. Depending on where your cabin sits, you may find mountain fronts (unobstructed views of National Park); mountain views, which are views of the mountain but not the park; foothill views of the Smokies' rolling hills; and seasonal views that showcase nature during spring's blooms, summer's sun-dapples, autumn's amazing foliage or winter's breathtaking snow.
About Darryl Payne
Darryl Payne is a native of East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. He is a web developer with a passion for building great websites. As a local, he can offer a unique perspective on where to stay and things to do while on vacation in the Smokies. To read his latest recommendations, please click the Google+ follow button.