Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina is a wonderful place for a family vacation. The "resort" is not luxurious by any stretch, but it blends nature and family fun in a beautiful setting. On the banks of the Ravenfork River, families can choose from 3 levels of "roughing it.". There are tents for those with a true camping spirit; RV sites for those requiring more creature comforts; and for the luxury traveler, small cabins which have kitchenettes, air conditioning and heat, and TV and cable. For the campers, the site has 2 bath houses and bathroom facilities. There is also a 24-hour laundry room for all guests. No matter how primitive you want to get, wi-fi is available throughout the resort. Prices range from about $30/night for a tent site to $140/night in peak season for a cabin.
We had traveled to the Smoky Mountains in the past and rented vacation cabins from private owners. What makes this type of accommodation different, is the community spirit that forms among the vacationing families and the on-site activities which guarantee that everyone has something to do. Jellystone provides plenty of activities such as arts and crafts, an arcade with over a dozen games, a playground, a large swimming pool, a basketball court, and family movies shown in their pavilion each evening. Twice a day, Yogi Bear takes the kids out on a hay ride. There are many children of all ages, so all of my kids were able to make friends.
In addition to staff-organized activities, the setting provides plenty of opportunities to commune with nature. Guests can go fishing and tubing on the river. From the property, you can take a 2.5 mile hike to Mingo Falls which are the tallest falls on the Appalachian Trail. It is an easy hike most of the way. Although there was some whining, even my 4 year old completed it. Each site comes with a fire ring for cooking and making the all-important s'mores every evening.
The staff at Jellystone is very friendly and it is clear that this is a well-run establishment. Reservations can be made easily online or on the phone. My family, consisting of my husband and myself and 3 kids, ages 4, 11 and 16, chose a cabin for our 5-day stay. If I had to name a down side to the resort it would be that even though we rented a cabin, we still had to bring our own linens and supplies. The cabin came with 2 rolls of toilet paper and a bottle of dishwashing soap. The cabin was clean and the staff was quite responsive in fixing a wobbly ceiling fan, but some linens, a bath mat and a couple of pot holders, would have been nice.
Below are some tips for making the most out of your stay at Jellystone:
The resort is located about 10 minutes from the center of Cherokee so you should plan on cooking most meals on-site. There are very few (about 3) restaurants in town that are not chains or fast-food.
If you are driving to the resort and have extra room in your car, you should pack a box or two of basic supplies: laundry soap, condiments, spices, sugar, coffee, maple syrup, mac n cheese, pancake mix, tin foil, cleaning wipes, shampoo, soap, etc. If you have additional room, consider bringing a cooler of cold cuts and frozen meat. There is one main grocery store in Cherokee, Food Lion. It seems to be the only one around for miles and it is probably the most expensive grocery store I have ever known. If you don't bring some of your own supplies, prepare to spend $200 plus to buy a few days' worth of basics for your stay.
The resort is located in a "dry county," i.e. you have to drive 25 miles or more to the next county for some booze. However, alcohol is permitted on the premises, so next to your box of supplies, throw in a couple of bottles of Chardonnay.
If you still have room, you may want to hitch some bicycles to your vehicle. The resort has bike rentals, but they are $10/hour. This was the only thing I thought was rather pricey.
We had a great stay at Jellystone, not because it was luxurious or had vast cultural offerings. The beauty of a place such as this one lies in its simplicity. It's about kids making instant friends and going off to play in a safe environment. It's about watching my 3 city kids get excited about fireflies. It's about sitting around campfires, breathing the mountain air, eating every meal as a family and seeing my children bond because they have to sleep in one room.
- Also Known As:
- Yogi Bear`s Jellystone Park Cherokee Hotel Cherokee