My family has stayed here for 15 years now, and I'm pleased to say the second generation is now staying there too. We live in Atlanta which gets absolutely unbearable by August with the incredible baking heat.
It's a short drive (2.5 hours) from Atlanta, giving you time to get there for the afternoon rides. Your first visit is simply magical!!
You leave the floor of quaint 1950's-era Maggie Valley, then start a very steep, winding trip up the mountain road to the ranch. You watch your car's outside temperature gage begin to drop from 100 degrees to lower and lower, going down about a degree every few hundred yards. Suddenly you're at 68 degrees, you crest a hill, and come across a mountain paradise!
Large sloping hills of impossibly-green pastures backed by miles and miles of the Smoky Mountains. Genuine Log cabins are dotted across the landscape as you make your way to the main lodge which has a roaring fireplace with full-sized logs glowing inside.
By now, we've basically stayed in every single cabin and room. They break down into four main categories: rooms in the main lodge (with quaint old-fashioned claw-footed bathtubs), the older cabins (my personal favorite) with the main bed and fireplace and a second bedroom, the Silverbell lodge (can lodge a TON of people with lots of beds and full kitchen), then the Romance Cabins with inside giant Jacuzzi tubs facing the fireplace.
A HUGE breakfast and dinner is included in the price...and you can catch trout in the pond to have served for your breakfast if you like (I like!.) There are two types of dinner....in-door family style and outdoor BBQ. I vastly prefer the in-door family style meals. Huge plates of fried chicken, venison, pork, country vegetables, with gallons of perfect sweet tea served in mason jars...it just does NOT get better than that! Tons of hummingbirds flit outside the screens feeding from the feeders.
Surprisingly for a ranch, the horseback riding is extra, but the experience is overwhelmingly magnificent. Hemphill Bald and The Sage are my favorite rides. When you build up the endurance, all-day rides are very much fun! All riding is done nose-to-tail which can be a bit tedious if you have an insecure rider in front or back, but with a good wrangler, you certainly get enough fast riding to get your adrenaline going. Try everything you can not to get stuck with little kids in your particular group or you will walk all day.
Most of the wranglers are female and boy they don't take gruff from anybody! Just kinda stay outta their way.
The main ranch is very much a family-run business with a strong pecking order. They really do wish to please.
I was vastly disappointed when they switched from genuine fireplaces to fake gas fireplaces...something was just nice on a frosty night to hear the crackling fire....but you can still go to the main lodge for this. It is magnificent before and after dinner sitting on your personal wood porches by your cabins with your feet up, just enjoying the clean, crisp air and letting your sore muscles relax.
When you're lucky, their motel pool-sized jacuzzi is heated and running...a perfect end to a long ride. They have nice tennis courts for those who still have energy left, but mostly, people eat until they are stuffed then drowsily watch the giant main lodge fireplace as the evening entertainment (singing, story-telling, maybe genuine wolves) takes place.
This....is my happy place.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.