There is only one lodge inside Great Smoky Mountains . LeConte Lodge (Mt. LeConte, 865/429-5704, www.leconte-lodge.com , $97 per adult, $76 per child), located at the peak of Mount LeConte , is a rustic inn accessible only by foot. While the amenities are sparse, the lodge is a palace for trail-worn hikers.
Accommodations are in rough-hewn log cabins scattered around the compound. Each guest gets a bunk bed with warm wool blankets. There are flush toilets, but no showers or electricity. Cabins are lighted with kerosene lamps and warmed with kerosene heaters.
The standard cabins sleep four or five people, and are suitable for two couples or a family. LeConte Lodge does not put strangers in cabins together. Larger “lodges” that sleep up to 13 people are also available. Rental rates include breakfast and dinner, and LeConte’s meals are famously filling—perfect after a day of fresh air and hiking. If you’re a vegetarian, say so when you make your reservation so special arrangements can be made.
LeConte Lodge is open from mid-March through November. Even though you won’t be there in the dead of winter, be prepared for cold temperatures and inclement weather. The temperatures here are often 20 or 30 degrees cooler than the lowlands, and it has never gotten above 80 degrees. During spring and fall, there is often snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens.
Reservations are available starting on October 1 for the next year. The lodge is almost always fully booked by November, although you might still find a vacancy for mid-week dates during the spring or fall. If you can’t get a room at the inn, there is a park service shelter nearby.
Guests are advised to pack a flashlight and hand towel. You should also pack an extra sweater or coat for the cold weather, plus snacks and water for the trail. Lunch is provided only to guests who are staying more than one night.
There are no restaurants or concessions inside the park. The best way to eat is to pack a picnic and enjoy it at one of the many picnic grounds throughout the park. All picnic grounds include tables and fire grates.