So I went glamping for the first time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
After having spent a summer camping in Yellowstone, I’ve learned that camping is a very polarizing activity. It can either be the most amazing experience of your life, leaving you asking:
“Why don’t I do this more often? I am a resilient buckaneer of the outdoors and nothing can hurt me!!!”
Or it’s absolutely terrible and you leave your campsite, cranky and shivering, thinking:
“I am weak and will never do this again.”
But, little did I know, there’s an option that combines the cozy camping ideal and resulting self-satisfaction with all of the modern comforts. This basically guarantees that you’re going to have a good time, no matter what nature decides to do!
It is called glamping.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love camping, but glamping is on a whole different level. My family decided to go glamping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a fun way to end our road trip to Raleigh.
Here’s my experience at the Glamp-site as well as in the park itself:
I didn’t really know what to expect when my mom told us we were going glamping, but Undercanvas was nothing short of totally fabulous. All of the buildings are solar-powered tents, including the check in desk. This main tent is actually a bunch of little tents pushed together, forming a board games area, restaurant, and lounge. There is free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate there 24/7, which was a very appreciate bonus.
Our tent was unbelievable, so much so that I feel bad calling it a tent.
It’s a canvas style, and had its own front porch with lawn chairs and logs for the actual real wood burning stove. (Too bad it was summer or I would have loved to try it out). In the main room, there was a king-sized bed and a pull out couch. There’s no electricity, but there are two lanterns with USB ports so that you can charge your phones. Almost all of the canvas-walls had double-zippers so that you could zip off the canvas layer to let in natural light (through the bug net of course).
My favorite part of the cabin was actually the bathroom. You heard me right, this tent has a fully equipped functional bathroom, complete with a real working toilet. Hallelujah! The shower is one of those kinds where you pull on the chain to release the water stream, so it took me a minute to figure out how to operate that in between shampooing and such, but thankfully, the water was warm.
For big families like mine, you can get an adjacent little teepee dubbed “the hive” with two additional beds. It was just a few steps away from the main tent.
Cumberland Gap trail
We could have stayed at the campsite all day and had tons of fun, but we wanted to see a bit of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The only downside to Undercanvas is that it’s about 45 minutes away from the actual park.
We ended up taking the Cumberland gap trail, which I do not recommend because it’s terribly marked.
However we did see some cool ruins, animals, and we went swimming in the river, so it was still an enjoyable day.
On the first part of the trail, there are a bunch of old chimneys still standing on the ruins of old houses. Haunting and a little creepy but very cool, it made me want to know more about the history of the area.
The trail itself is beautiful, the tall forests almost completely block out the hot July sun, making the trail nice and cool. Below the canopy there are a bunch of flowering trees that I think are azaleas. It’s just so beautiful and unlike any other forest I’ve been in before!
The first 3 miles of the trail also run right alongside a super-clear river, and I couldn’t resist climbing across the rocks and jumping in to a deep, slow moving pool. Jumping may have been a mistake. I’ve swum in quite a few mountain streams before, but the coldness of this Great Smoky Mountain river is just unreal. I couldn’t even take a full breath it was so cold, so naturally, I gasped and screamed dramatically the entire time.
Because the Cumberland Gap trail is so uncrowded (because other people are smart enough not to get lost), we saw a ton of animals right on the trail. We saw a swarm of butterflies, a green caterpillar, a millipede, and a black rat snake!
A lot of bugs and a snake
Back to the Glampsite
After stumbling out of the woods tired and hungry, we ate a heavenly feast at Cracker Barrel and made our way back to Undercanvas for nighttime activities.
Outside the main tent, they have yard games and my family played an intense game of cornhole. Just after the sun went down, all the families settled around the campfire and we all made s’mores.
We were lucky enough to be staying on the weekend, because country singers from Nashville come to perform on Fridays and Saturdays! Listening to the sweet, slow music with a s’more in hand, it was quite literally the perfect summer night.
Austin Jenckes performed while we were there, you should check him out because he’s really good! (especially his originals)
I love love LOVED glamping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
Undercanvas blew any expectation I had for glamping out of the water. There’s so much to do there that you could easily fill an entire weekend just at the campsite.
As far as Great Smoky Mountain National Park goes, I think we picked the wrong activity. I’d love to go back and do the Roaring Fork loop someday. The scenery in the park itself is just so pretty, and definitely makes my top list of USA national parks.
Additionally, this post is the last of my North Carolina road trip stories.
But fear not!
I’m going on another road trip to Texas in just a few days 🙂
See ya then,