Great Smoky Mountains National Park | LECONTE LODGE

Cabin at the LeConte Lodge

Cabin at the LeConte Lodge

Great Smoky Mountains National Park differs from many of the other National Parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone in that it does not have a grand, historical lodge. The only non-camping accommodation in the park is the LeConte Lodge located at the top of Mount LeConte, the third highest peak in the park. Access is by hiking only. There are five trails that will get you there ranging from 5.5 to 8 miles long. The general location is in the center of the park just south of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I hiked to and from the lodge on the Bull Head Trail and the Rainbow Falls Trail, and you can read the trail reviews here on National Park Planner.

The LeConte Lodge is open from March through late November. It is not a lodge in the traditional sense, but a complex of buildings and cabins consisting of two 3-bedroom lodges that sleep up to 13 people, a 2-bedroom lodge that sleeps up to 10 people, and seven small cabins that can sleep four to five. You rent the entire building, so no strangers will be sleeping with you. I’m not sure how old the buildings are, but the LeConte Lodge business started in 1926, over a decade before Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened.

None of this is cheap, yet reservations are still nearly impossible to get. The big lodge runs over $1,200/night plus a $50/day/per person meal charge (breakfast and dinner), whereas cabins are $155 per person (meals included). On top of that, there’s a 9.75% sales tax in Tennessee. That’s a lot for any property, let alone one with no electricity—though that may be a selling point. Kerosene lanterns and propane heaters are provided. There are flush toilets, but no showers. You can fill a bucket with hot water to take a sponge bath. The place gets great reviews and is booked up as far as a year in advance, so I guess nobody’s complaining. I just checked in mid-March, and other than a few scattered weekday dates for the larger lodges, the entire season is booked. Even the waiting list for April, May, and June is full.

I did not stay at the lodge, but from reading on-line reviews it appears that many people just stay for one night, then hike back the next day. I don’t know what else you would do on top of a mountain for multiple days.

Day-hikers passing through the area can purchase a sack lunch.

For more information, check out the LeConte Lodge website.

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Last updated on December 26, 2020
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