It’s sort of like a ‘staycation,’ going on vacation in the mountains we call home. Yes, traveling to the beach or the lake are alluring ways to take a summer break.

But why not enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the mountains in Western North Carolina?

There are many options for a getaway in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains. Here are three that have something special to let vacationers unwind, decompress and enjoy nature.

A mountain ranch, a mile high

Cataloochee Guest Ranch, high atop Maggie Valley, is known for its relaxed mile-high setting, rustic cabins, horseback riding and great food.

“Whether you want to take part in horseback riding, hike or fall in love with peace and quiet, Cataloochee Ranch offers 800 acres of possibilities,” said ranch general manager David Allison.

Book a rustic room, a cabin, or a larger lodging for family groups. It’s certain that the mountain air, pastoral views and the quaint mountain ranch lifestyle will start to work their magic and help guests decompress — and maybe even put away the cell phone.

Locals know that the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening cook-outs offer a tasty seasonal buffet in a breath-taking mountain setting. Sit outside and take in the vistas and the cool mountain air. Gaze at a grand 110-year-old oak tree in back of the ranch house, complete with an old-fashioned swing, and think about a simpler time when families conversed and couples spent romantic time alone.

Musicians love to play Cataloochee Ranch, with its intimate, rustic setting. Performers have included roots and bluegrass stars Peter Rowan, Amanda Anne Platt and the Honeycutters, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley and Balsam Range’s Buddy Melton and songwriter-singer Milan Miller.

Music curator Penny Redfern lines-up great music each year. Check the website for the music schedule and for lodging specials.

Cataloochee Guest Ranch is open year-round. For information on lodging, dining, music and specials, visit or call 828-926-1401. The ranch is at 119 Ranch Dr., Maggie Valley, just below the Cataloochee Ski Area.

A luxurious, rustic inn along the national park

The Swag is a mountaintop treasure, high above Waynesville. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the 14-room resort, borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The views are spectacular and the inn offers a luxurious getaway from the hustle and bustle of life.

Guests enjoy The Swag’s fine rustic décor, with rooms and cabins made of hand-hewn logs, most rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and comforting steam showers.

Among the accolades, Andrew Harper named The Swag as the ‘Most Romanic Hideaway’ in the 2018 Grand Awards and the readers of Condé Nast voted The Swag as the #2 ‘Top Resort in the South’ in 2017.

The Swag is located alongside an ‘undiscovered area of the Park,’ said general manager Greg Hoover. “Guests come for The Swag’s ambience, exceptional hospitality and rooms that are luxurious, yet rustic. It’s a five-star experience in an all-inclusive resort.”

New owners Annie and David Colquitt are settling-in and say the transition has been smooth.

“We’ve been touched by the warm welcome of returning guests,” Annie Colquitt said.

Guest services director Becky Seymour encourages locals to visit The Swag — whether it’s reservations for lodging, The Swag’s fine dining, the unique Wednesday gourmet picnics at Gooseberry Knob, Sunday gourmet brunch or simply a picnic backpack to take on hike in the area.

And those with some flexibility in their dates may want to keep The Swag in mind for close-in booking.

“A little known fact is that close-in bookings may get a very good rate,” said David Colquitt. “So, if people have the flexibility to book close-in, they should call The Swag.”

To experience The Swag, visit or call 828- 926-0430.

A riverside yurt, outfitted for luxury

Overlooking the Pigeon River, in a quiet valley of the Western North Carolina mountains, is a new concept in luxurious getaways — Yin Yurt, owned and operated by Ricardo and Suzanne Fernandez, of Wildcat Ridge Farm in Clyde.

Completed in 2018, the yurt’s new construction offers the charm of a cabin with modern amenities and the Zen-like experience of a yurt. The rushing water of the nearby Pigeon River provides an idyllic setting for visitors to experience the tranquility of the mountains, rivers and scenery of Western North Carolina.

The traditional circular yurt dwelling is built around a wooden frame, and what’s inside will delight everyone wanting a respite from the pace of daily life.

This is no ordinary glamping experience. The comfortable yurt has a fully-equipped kitchen, breakfast bar, bedroom with a king bed, living room with a queen-sized sofa bed, dining area with a view, full bath, flat screen TV, and heat and air conditioning. The wrap-around deck, complete with a grill, and the garden-area fire pit provide the perfect setting for enjoying sunsets.

“Everyone should to go back to the essence of living,” said Ricardo Fernandez. “We need to appreciate nature and spend time listening to birds and the river.”

The yurt sleeps up to four people, but is well-suited for a romantic getaway. Upon request, Chef Ricardo will provide gourmet box lunches or catering for yurt guests.

The Yin Yurt at Wildcat Ridge Farm is at 3553 Panther Creek Road, Clyde. Visit Airbnb (look for ‘Romantic Luxury new Riverfront Yurt near Asheville’), Glamping Hub or VRBO. Check it out or call 828-627-6751.

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