rating: $ 199 to $ 604 per night
Glam factor: 4 out of 5
Known for With its high-end camps outside of Yellowstone, Moab, and Zion National Parks, this chain of glamping destinations expanded east of the Mississippi to the Great Smoky Mountains in 2018. Located on a hill not far from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (but culturally distant), the cluster of 40 safari tents resembles a 17th-century French fur trading village – if those pioneers had king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms and USB batteries .
At the entrance to the camp, a large communal tent brings everyone together for morning coffee, a surprisingly good selection of breakfast and dinner options, and yoga. In better times, live country and bluegrass bands serenade visitors at dusk, although this has been suspended until the end of the pandemic. But the free s’mores by the fireplace remain good proof that the best things can survive a crisis.
When you’re not exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 10 miles away, you’ll be spending most of your time in your tent and there are worse places to relax. All of them have hardwood tables and beds and a covered veranda for leafing through the leaves. Most have a wood stove to keep the autumn chill at bay. Some have a skylight for star gazing. The family suites even have a side tent for the children.
Founded by globetrotters Sarah and Jacob Dusek, Under Canvas aims to minimize the impact on the land, leading to some of what they term “intentional inconvenience”. The showers only work when you pull on a chain. The low power in the tents comes from a solar powered battery. And here there is neither WiFi nor cellular network. But the simple pleasure of watching kids play on the lawn and catching fireflies as the mist builds up on the surrounding peaks tops the doom scrolling on Twitter every day. Don’t worry: the world will be waiting for you at the bottom of the hill. 1015 Laurel Lick Rd., Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, 865-622-7695, undercanvas.com/camps/great-smoky-mountains
While you’re there …
eat:: Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar ((chesapeakes.com) flies in its catch daily and is one of the best facilities in nearby Gatlinburg. The half-shell oysters and crab cakes from Maryland can compete with those on the east coast.
Hike:: Many of the easy hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are very crowded so you will have to brave one of the more difficult ones to get away. The spectacular Alum Cave Trail climbs Mount LeConte and is worth the 10.5 miles.
Explore:: Gatlinburg’s numerous ski lifts in the mountains offer breathtaking views. We recommend the Skylift Park ((gatlinburgskylift.com) for his suspension bridge above.