Itching to get out of town this winter, Louisvillians? Skip those pesky airport security lines and jump in your car for a road trip to the Historic Tapoco Lodge in Robbinsville, NC — part of the Great Smoky Mountains’ foothills — instead. From hiking around the Cheoah River to sampling mead at Wehrloom Honey in town — we’re spilling all the details on how to have an unforgettable experience.
Drive time: ~5 hours
Year the lodge was established: 1930
Relax in the lodge’s upstairs spa offering a variety of massages with add-ons like hot Cheoah stones. The spa exclusively uses Malie products, which is an organic, plant-based beauty line made in Hawaii.
Tail of the Dragon
Formally known as US Route 129, this 11-mile span of road has 318 curves, making it one of the US’ top motorcycle + sport car destinations. Plus, it conveniently leads directly to the Tapoco Lodge.
Cheoah River Release
Several times throughout the year, a 9.25-mile stretch of the Cheoah River is released to create Class IV-V whitewater rapids for seasoned kayakers + rafters. The river runs directly in front of the lodge, so even if you’re not paddling the waters, you can watch others take on the Cheoah from the safety of the shore.
There are 10+ trails on the property and surrounding Nantahala National Forest that range from short 1.5-mile loops to more extensive 7-mile hikes.
Daily activities + special events
The lodge offers free yoga + special events throughout the year, including festivities around holidays and outdoor activities guided by Tina Wesson, the first woman to win the reality TV show “Survivor.” There are also tennis courts and fire pits — with wood provided — on the property.
Explore the history
Take a walk around the 120-acre campus to see the 1900s Tin Can Theater, World War II bomb siren, and an antique gas station.
Wehrloom Honey, 257 Willie Colvin Rd.
Located 20 minutes off property, this local honey shop has a mead taproom, honey tastings, bee observatory, and gift shop.
The Cheoah Dining Room
Open daily, grab brunch 8 a.m.-3 p.m. or dinner 4-8 p.m. in the main dining room. The menus offers classic country breakfasts platters, burgers, and upscale dishes, like pecan crusted trout.
Located on the bottom level of the lodge, the tavern is open seasonally serving wood-fired pizzas and pub-style food.
The Laurel Lounge
This cozy bar is open until 10 p.m. every night inside the lodge and slings specialty cocktails, beer, and wine. We recommend the old fashioned served with a smoky ice cube.
There are six rooms and three suites (more on those below) inside the lodge. The rooms stay true to their historic nature by featuring original design elements + don’t include TVs and utilize old-school door keys — no keycards here. Daily housekeeping is included.
Choose between three luxury suites: the Evergreen, Laurel, or Rhododendron, each offering views of the river, mountains, and surrounding landscape.
Outside of lodge rooms, Tapoco has seven cabins available to book. Each one includes daily housekeeping, a firepit, porches, and 24-hour guest services.