If there was ever an appropriate moment to spend quality time with the ones you love most, it's right now. And Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains is here to deliver the location to do just that.
Over a balmy weekend in June, I drove up to the camp's location, which sits just 10 miles outside of Gatlinburg, and just minutes from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Though its location is convenient, it's just outside of the hustle and bustle in its own 182 acres of woodland terrain.
A group of tents from Under Canvas Great Smokey Mountains Credit: Paul Joyner Photo/Courtesy Under Canvas
Arriving just as the sun was setting behind the hills allowed me to take in the true majesty of the location. The sky was already turning a burned orange and pink, and the hills looked like a mix of blue and green created by a master painter. The air was thick with both humidity and the sound of laughter coming from behind the main tent.
After checking in, I followed the giggles to the camp's outdoor patio to find every guest gathered around tables with their family and friends. In teams, the families were playing along with a "guess that tune" style game.
Exterior of a tent from Under Canvas Great Smokey Mountains Credit: JoPhoto/Courtesy Under Canvas
"Oh, that's Taylor Swift" I replied, not knowing the rules, only to be met with jeers and laughter and "Hey, that's cheating!"
So, I sat down quietly to spectate rather than play along. In the end, the teams tallied their scores before co-mingling again with their rivals around fire pits and marshmallows while watching children play in the grass. At that moment, everything was right with the world, and nothing could touch this happiness.
Before the last of the sunlight went out, me, my travel companion, and my pup made our way to our safari-style tent, which sat up behind the trees, giving it an ultra-private feel. However, just before entering, we realized we weren't alone. There was a four-foot snake waiting on our steps. It slowly slithered down the path making room for us to quickly scurry in.
Interior of a tent at Under Canvas Great Smokey Mountains Credit: Paul Joyner Photo/Courtesy of Under Canvas
"Don't worry," an Under Canvas employee said, us. "He's just hunting mice. We can relocate it if it bothers you," in a way that kind of made it sound like there was just one snake in the entirety of the Smoky Mountains that resided right here as a member of the Under Canvas team.
Before tucking in at night in our safari-inspired tent that came with a king-sized bed, a wood stove, and a full bathroom, we took the dog for one more walk. And it could not have been a better idea.
Interior of a bed at Under Canvas Great Smokey Mountains Credit: Paul Joyner Photo/Courtesy of Under Canvas
After walking past the entryway to the camp, lit only by the moonlight, we saw a flash along the treeline above the babbling creek. Upon closer inspection, it was a light posse of fireflies (fun fact: a group of fireflies is also known as a "sparkle") lighting up in near unison. While bright, no photo could do it justice, so it's a sight you'll have to go see for yourself.
Like all of Under Canvas' locations, this one comes with a host of camp activities, including yoga, the aforementioned trivia nights, painting, guided hikes, and more. It also comes with adventure packages, including white water rafting and driving tours.
And, like its other locations, this spot comes with a masterful culinary scene where guests can dine on tavern-style pot roast, charcuterie boards, steak burgers, and more.
While every Under Canvas location provides something unique, special, and is well worth the journey, this spot felt uniquely like a home away from home for families to celebrate together once again. Maybe it was the warm air, the dazzling fireflies, or just the knowledge that we could hug again, but this place just made everything feel like a kid again, and like everything was going to be alright. And that's a vacation feeling everyone should have the pleasure of walking away with.
Under Canvas tents begin at $329/night. Book your stay here.