Looking to step up your accommodations from the back of your Toyota truck? Got a new girlfriend who insists on having a shower? For all those who might wear their hair just a little too long, who always travel with at least one dog (call before you book), and who are looking for a bed or a bunk to lay their weary head, here’s a look at our top laid-back lodging picks for your outdoor adventures. We’re not sure what thread count you’ll find, but it beats washing up in the gas station bathroom. Many of these spots are truly first class in both atmosphere and service.
Sweet Peas Hostel, situated conveniently below the Lexington Avenue Brewery in trendy Asheville, is the ideal destination for all fun hogs in the area. Yes, you heard that correctly, it’s connected to a micro brewery. This is a contemporary hostel with meticulous upkeep and a good vibe. Choose from bunks, pods, or private rooms that put you right in the heart of downtown Asheville, centrally located to much of the best outdoor recreation in the Southeast.
The other nearby outdoors mecca of Hot Springs (take out for French Broad, Big Laurel, Spring Creek) has a myriad of offerings from slimy to swanky, as well as a number of solid campground options. To continue your downtown trend, check out the Iron Horse Station, a one-stop shop for eats, coffee, live music, drinks, and lodging. It sits on the Appalachian Trail and the multi-building complex is ripe with history, and now with convenience. While prices are reasonable by any standard, they aren’t exactly dirt-bag style, so you might consider combing your hair and shaking the sand out before you walk in.
The Nantahala Outdoor Center’s various and expanding lodging accommodations at any of their rafting centers are really a can’t-go-wrong hook up whether it’s hiking, biking, or paddling you’re after. But it’s the NOC’s original outpost located right on the Nantahala River, spitting distance from the new world-class competition play hole, in a quaint but plentiful setting that is not to be missed. Just west of Bryson City, the lake, river, and mountain recreation is unbeatable by Southern standards, whether it’s family whitewater or Great Smoky Mountains National Park action you seek. The authentic and convenient cabins, inn, hostel/bunk house and campsites offer something for everyone, with a nice little restaurant on-site.
Nestled along the Appalachain Trail in Dawsonville, Georgia, is the well-known Hike Inn, a welcome respite for those putting in long, sweaty hours on the trail. There are indeed a few lodging options along the trail with similar names, coincidentally, but they aren’t all located a mandatory five-mile hike into the Chattahoochee National Forest. (They have their own parking area at the top of Amicalola Falls.) The Hike Inn prides itself on family style meals and world-class views, as well as their comforts-of-home vibe. The Inn features 20 rustic guest rooms, hot showers, communal areas, and rates include breakfast and dinner.
For those keen on running the Youghiogheny (Upper or Lower) or taking advantage of some of the other incredible outdoor recreation that is Pennsylvania, consider a stay at Ohiopyle’s Trillium Lodge. You can book direct or through outfitter Wilderness Voyageurs for all your outdoor adventure needs. Situated on 40 acres and just a stone’s throw from Ohiopyle State Park, the area is renowned for its paddling and biking opportunities. The lodge holds 23 people and can be rented in whole or in part year-round.
It’s important to consider some of the family-run and laid-back campgrounds around the Blue Ridge region when out recreating—and the Nolichucky Gorge Campground & Resort near Erwin, Tenn., is no exception. The Nolichucky River Gorge features some of the premier hiking, boating, floating, biking, and fishing in northeastern Tennessee, surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest with the AT and additional whitewater options nearby.
In the prime Appalachia territory of Damascus, Virginia, home to the Virginia Creeper Trail, you can go the VRBO route, find cabins online, shack up in inexpensive hotels, camp, or you can stay with Miss Ginny at the Lazy Fox Inn. When you look up “quaint B & B” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure there’s a picture of the Lazy Fox Inn.
Near the town of Luray in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and located right on the Shenandoah River lie the five Shenandoah River Cabins. Open year-round and featuring fireplaces, hot tubs, decks, docks and views, you’ll find yourself just five minutes from world-class canoeing, biking, spelunking, golf, vineyards and the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. The River Cabins website can connect you with local outfitters and shuttles, and this dog-friendly property is just 90 minutes west of Washington D.C.
For premium access to the Potomac River Basin and all the fly fishing, paddling, hiking, biking, and other recreation this tri-state area has to offer, book a swanky room at The Angler’s Inn, a B&B in the quaint and sublimely located Harpers Ferry. It sits at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and even offers guided fly fishing trips and is affiliated with the nearby Kelly’s White Fly Shoppe for all your angling desires. This is premium access to the D.C.-area whitewater scene, so save up your beer and burrito money for this one.
To paddle, climb, hike, and bike the New River Gorge, there’s a simple answer for dirt-lovers of all kinds: the River Rock Retreat Hostel, just a quarter mile from the famed New River Gorge Bridge. There’s no kitchen, but at $22.50 per night, you can afford to eat out, and you couldn’t be any closer to the outdoor goods.