Photo by Airbnb
Photo by Airbnb
This secluded Blue Ridge Mountain tree house is just a 20-minute drive east of Asheville, North Carolina.
Plan a week-long retreat or weekend getaway to the Blue Ridge Mountains with one of these isolated cabins you can rent in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or Georgia.
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The United States is home to several grand mountain ranges. The West Coast has the Sierra Nevadas, while the Rockies cut their way across the middle of the west. Out east? Within the larger Appalachian mountain range, which runs from Maine all the way down to northern Alabama, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a quintessential American destination famous for renowned bluegrass music, two national parks, and scenic road trip opportunities.
According to the USGS, the Blue Ridge Mountains stretch from southern Pennsylvania down through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, before ending in northern Georgia and South Carolina. However, most visitors to the Blue Ridge Mountains end up exploring Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, with the popular Blue Ridge Parkway connecting these two national parks by a 469-mile scenic highway.
As with any mountain destination, there is an abundance of camping opportunities and lodge-style hotels to book in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But for those who prefer the indoor luxuries of a hotel mixed with the privacy of camping in the woods, look no further than this curated list of Blue Ridge Mountain cabins you can rent on Airbnb or Vrbo throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.
Note: The four states included in this article—North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia—are all in various phases of reopening. Keep in mind that the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments to only reopen if the rates of positivity in testing come back at 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days. (That is, of all the tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19.) As of July 22, all four of these states are above the 5 percent threshold, which means residents of those states should be staying as close to home as possible and out-of-staters should seriously reconsider any plans to visit these states.
Per the CDC’s guidance, if you are thinking about traveling away from your local community, be sure to follow these rules for booking summer vacation rentals, and ask yourself the following questions:
The Blue Ridge Mountains make up the entire western border of North Carolina. We’ve included cabins in the greater Asheville area, plus more remote options in Nantahala National Forest and well as in the area bordering Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Lockdown status: On July 16, Governor Roy Cooper extended North Carolina’s Safer At Home Phase 2 measures until at least August 7, 2020. With a few exceptions, people are required to wear face masks in public when physical distancing of six feet is not possible. Bars, playgrounds, and indoor music venues remain closed, but restaurants are open at 50 percent capacity. State parks and trails are encouraged to open. Blue Ridge Parkway visitor centers remain closed until at least July 31, but a list of open and closed picnic areas and restrooms along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina can be found here. Travelers should check with local governments to see if other restrictions are currently in place. Find more COVID-19 travel resources for North Carolina at nc.gov and VisitNC.com.
Old Fort, North Carolina
This cozy tree house is just a 20-minute drive east of Asheville, but feels worlds away from everything because it’s set on 14 acres in a forest of native laurel trees. To enter, you walk across a short swinging bridge (pictured at the top of the article). Inside, you’ll find modern amenities such as a LED fireplace, Wi-Fi, cable television, both heat and air-conditioning, and a kitchenette. In case you forget you’re in the woods, an outdoor shower and composting toilet are both located in private areas on the deck. Down a short flight of stairs, you’ll find a hot tub for relaxing.
Topton, North Carolina
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This lakefront home in the very southwestern tip of North Carolina is roughly 85 miles from both Knoxville and Asheville. With two king-size bedrooms and one bunk room for up to four kids (all with en suite bathrooms), this home is ideal for two families traveling together. Spend your days swimming or boating on the lake and evenings grilling on the deck. Once the kids go to sleep, it’s time to retire to the hot tub.
Bryson City, North Carolina
The “Eagle’s Nest” gets its name from its location high above Fontana Lake overlooking Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The views are best enjoyed from the outdoor fire pit or the wraparound deck, but inside you’ll find creature comforts including two queen-size bedrooms, each with their own bathrooms. There’s a queen sleeper sofa in the living room for additional guests. The cabin is just a few miles down the road to Bryson City, which is home to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad—one of AFAR’s favorite fall foliage train rides.
Candler, North Carolina
Despite being just a 20-minute drive west of Asheville, this tiny house cabin is located on a private 125-acre mountaintop property that backs up to Pisgah National Forest. The highlight of this spot is the glass garage door on the front of the cabin that provides sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Keep in mind, this isolated location means the cabin is completely off the grid. There’s a comfy queen-size bed inside, but you’ll need to rely on the propane stove or charcoal grill to cook, a solar generator for the lights and charging devices, and your own cooler for perishables since there is no refrigerator. While there is a propane heater if it gets cold, know that both the shower and “very clean” porta potty are located outdoors—a consideration if you plan on visiting after late fall.
Because the Great Smoky Mountains are part of the larger Blue Ridge Mountain Range, we’re including a handful of cabins on the far eastern border of Tennessee near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Lockdown status: Currently, Tennessee has no travel or quarantine restrictions in place. Both restaurants and bars are allowed to reopen, as long as all guests are seated at least six feet apart. Statewide, face masks are encouraged but not mandatory unless an individual business or county requires them. State parks are open but can be closed if capacity is reached. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is reopening in phases, with some locations still closed. Travelers should check with local governments to see if other restrictions are currently in place. Find more COVID-19 travel resources for Tennessee at tn.gov and tnvacation.com.
About an hour’s drive south of Knoxville, this rustic log cabin is set on 25 private acres overlooking Chilhowee Lake near the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, Airbnb hosts Ben and Jeanne describe its location as “dang far from, well, most everything . . . except nature!” Downstairs there’s a queen-size bedroom with an en suite bathroom, plus another bathroom and room for three more to sleep on a twin-size daybed and a double futon. The loft bedroom upstairs with four twin beds is best for older children, since it’s accessed by a spiral staircase.
This newly remodeled log cabin is located just down the road from the back entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cades Cove. Plus it’s only a 20-minute drive to Pigeon Forge (did someone say Dollywood?). Upstairs in the great room there’s a queen-size Murphy bed and queen sleeper sofa, while a king-size bedroom (and pool table) is located down a spiral staircase. Full bathrooms are located on each floor. On the top deck you’ll find a grill, an outdoor dining table, and lounge chairs. The bottom deck has a hot tub and a hammock to enjoy the mountain views, too.
Northern Georgia makes up the southern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, itself is only 90 miles north of Atlanta, making it an easy weekend getaway for city dwellers.
Lockdown status: Georgia’s statewide shelter in place order expired April 30, but people are still being urged to stay home, practice social-distancing efforts, and wear face masks when social distancing isn’t possible. Most businesses, including restaurants, bars, and live performance venues, have reopened with social distancing and sanitization practice in place. State parks and trails are open, but swimming pools at Georgia State Parks remain closed. Travelers should check with local governments to see if other restrictions are currently in place. Find more COVID-19 travel resources for Georgia at dph.georgia.gov and exploregeorgia.org.
Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia
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This charming one-room cabin is about 90 miles from Atlanta and four miles from the mountain town of Helen (known for its Bavarian-style buildings) in northeast Georgia. Set in a forest next to a creek, the screened-in back deck has a hot tub, plus there’s also a fire pit in the backyard. Inside, you’ll find a king-size bed, a kitchen with brand new appliances, and a full bathroom. This cabin is built for all-season visits, with air-conditioning for the summer and a gas fireplace for fall and winter.
Blue Ridge, Georgia
Perched on stilts, this roughly 750-square-foot cabin comes with 1,200 square feet of decks so you can truly enjoy the outdoor setting high up in the trees. On the bottom deck there’s a picnic table and a hot tub, and on the wraparound deck upstairs there’s a grill and plenty of space to lounge. Inside, there’s room for six to sleep with cozy built-in bunks for kids in the living room and a private queen-size bedroom. In the upstairs loft there’s another bed that’s built hanging from the ceiling so that it looks like a gigantic porch swing. When you’re ready to get out, the cabin is located just three miles south of the town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, and its popular Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which is particularly beautiful in the fall.
Blue Ridge, Georgia
Unlike the other log cabins and tree-house-style homes included here, this charming Vrbo rental is built to look like a tiny barn. While there is a futon bed for a third guest, the studio-style setup of this cabin makes it ideal for couples. The bathroom comes with a built-in sauna, but the true highlight of this property is the open-air living room that not only has a hot tub, but also a stone fireplace and a drop-down projector screen for enjoying Netflix alfresco.
The Blue Ridge Mountains comprise Virginia’s western border, but Shenandoah National Park located just west of Charlottesville is the main draw in this part of the mountain range.
Lockdown status: On July 1, Virginia entered Phase 3 of reopening, allowing restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and wineries to reopen for both indoor and outdoor service provided groups have six feet of distance between tables. Per Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 63, people are required to wear face coverings in public indoor settings in Virginia. State parks are open once again with new guidelines in place. Most amenities in Shenandoah National Park are also open once again. Blue Ridge Parkway visitor centers remain closed until at least July 31, but a list of open and closed picnic areas and restrooms along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia can be found here. Travelers should check with local governments to see if other restrictions are currently in place. Find more COVID-19 travel resources for Virginia at vdh.virginia.gov and virginia.org.
West Augusta, Virginia
This octagonal Airbnb is located roughly 37 miles west of the southern entrance to Shenandoah National Park. Built unlike any other cabin on this list, its host says it was “designed like an umbrella perched on the side of a mountain.” With two separate decks, one upstairs and one downstairs, there’s plenty of room to space out and enjoy some alone time outdoors. Even when you’re inside, the glass walls make it feel like you’re still right there in the trees.
Big Island, Virginia
One of our all-time favorite Airbnb cabins, this 300-square-foot tiny house has an ideal location just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway (and a 30-minute drive west of Lynchburg). Even though it is indeed tiny, this cabin’s smart design means there’s room for seven people to stay here between the queen bed in the loft, three bunk beds in the bedroom, and the pullout couch in the living room next to the wood-burning stove.
Located in the town of Bridgewater, roughly 30 miles west of the Swift Run Gap entrance to Shenandoah National Park, this 400-square-foot cabin is built like a tree house. But the interior design is anything but rustic, with beautiful details like a walnut spiral staircase to the queen-size loft bedroom, a marble tile shower, and hammered copper sinks. There’s a hot tub on the deck, but for a more refreshing dip, you can walk 100 yards down to the North River to swim (there are also two kayaks and a canoe you can borrow from the hosts).
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