Tucked away in the mountains of Western North Carolina, you’ll find the Fontana Village Resort, just steps away from the Southwestern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and of course, the Fontana Dam.
Fontana Village was originally built because of the construction of the Tennessee Valley Authority Fontana Dam – the workers and their families needed somewhere to stay during the construction, which took about two years (1942-1944). Fontana dam was built to provide power for the war effort at the Oakridge Nuclear Facility in Oakridge, TN as well as to alleviate the flooding in the greater Tennessee River Valley during rainy season.
Fontana Village Resort is a a year-round vacation destination, and each time Chris and I have driven past the Fontana Pit Stop (their gas station), we mean to go in and take a look. Well, we did more than that on our most recent trip to North Carolina: we booked a room there!
Fontana Village Resort is just that – a village. In addition to offering accommodations, including rooms in the The Lodge, suites, cabins and camping near the Little Tennessee River, Fontana Village is a vacation unto itself! We found out firsthand just how wonderful the ground were, as it rained almost 24 hours a day the entire time we were in Fontana, and we weren’t able to do most of the things we had planned on doing in the area during our trip.
We booked a poolside cabana suite, which is right behind the lodge. As this was a our anniversary trip, we wanted a bit of privacy, but we didn’t want to book a cabin and be completely away from the restaurant and pool area.
Our room was amazing! Much larger than most hotel rooms, we had vaulted ceilings with exposed wooden beams, a luxurious king size bed, a big screen TV tucked away in the cabinet, as well as a seating area.
It was romantic, rustic and exactly what we were hoping for! All of those lazy days hiking, hanging out in hammocks, fishing, riding the bike...it was perfect.
Due to the rain, Chris didn’t ride as much as he had planned on, and of course, I wasn’t able to lay out by the pool AT ALL. We spent time chilling on the patio, had dinner at the Mountainview Restaurant each night, and spent our days just wandering around Fontana Village and driving along scenic roads, looking for new waterfalls and bears. Let me tell you, having your own hiking gear and camping gear makes a big difference when spending time in the Smoky Mountains.
Yes, we were looking for bears. You see, Chris ALWAYS sees at least one bear when he goes to Deal’s Gap, and I’ve never seen one in my entire life!
We didn’t see any. Chris says that I’m bear repellent. Oh well.
As I said, Fontana Village really is a village. Aside from the accommodations, there are two restaurants, the Mountanview Restaurant, which is located inside the Lodge and is a fine dining restaurant, and then there is the Wildwood Grill, which is more of a pizza, burgers and fries restaurant, which is less expensive but still delicious! There’s also the Bear’s Den, which is a lounge, though we never ended up there.
There’s also a laundromat, ice cream parlor, General Store and gift shop located across the way from the larger pool and basketball courts. That’s right, there are two pools!
The larger pool is located near the cabins, across the street from the General Store, and also has a playground and a little lazy river!
Aside from the pool, there are also other fun things to do around Fontana Village! As I mentioned, there are playgrounds for the kids, as well as a basketball court and plenty of games, like Hill Billy Putt Putt, and a championship disc golf course!
Now, I’ve told you that Fontana Village was created for the workers and families that built the Fontana Dam. However, Fontana had a history of small settlements prior to the construction of the dam!
We were surprised to see the Gunter Cabin, built in 1875, standing across the street from the Wildwood Grill. Jesse Gunter and his wife Catherine built the log cabin in 1875, after leaving their home in Stecoah, which isn’t too far from Fontana. I’m a little obsessed with history and seeing this old cabin just made my day. Even in the rain, I was excited to see that it, and once we realized that we could actually go INSIDE? I was ecstatic!
It was much too dark to take good photos of the indoors, but it was pretty neat, with two fireplaces and a bit of old furniture still left inside.
Just a short drive away is the actual Fontana Dam, and you can camp with your tent or an RV along the Little Tennessee River!
Fontana dam’s visitor center receives over 100,000 visitors a year. We were there during a week of rain, as I mentioned, and the reservoirs were opened on our final day. The water literally sprayed 150 feet into the air!
Fun Travel Fact: Did you know that the Fontana dam is the largest dam east of the Mississippi River? The dam is 480 feet high and stretches 2,365 feet across the Little Tennessee River.
The Fontana Reservoir, with its 238 miles of shoreline and 10,230 acres of water surface, is a destination in itself for water sport enthusiasts and fisherman. Fontana Village also has a marina for those with boats or watercraft! If you don’t have your own boat, Fontana Marina offers drop-off and pick-up services by boat to many locations along the north shore of Fontana Lake. You can find out more about those services here.
Fontana Village Resort Reservation Information
- Rooms at the Lodge range between $99-$209, depending on when you visit.
- Fontana Cabins range between $79-$269, depending on when you visit.
- Campground fees are between $15-$20.
You can find out more about the Fontana Village Resort, as well as make reservations, here.
There are also things to do not far from the Resort, such as white water rafting in the Nantahala River Gorge and lots of fun BBQ spots!
I absolutely LOVE Carolina BBQ, and there is no short supply in the Smoky Mountains!