Looking for a fun place to stay in the Gatlinburg area for your family, a girls trip, or even a romantic getaway? Kristina took her kids to Camp LeConte and tells us all about it and why it’s sure to be a destination choice for your next vacation to the Smokies. A complimentary stay was given to us for this review.
If you like the outdoors and would love to stay overnight in the woods but camping just isn’t up your alley, maybe you have heard of “glamping” – it’s where you get the experience of camping but without having to set up a tent, sleep on the ground, and deal with no air conditioning. I’ve done all kinds of awesome glamping, as well as regular camping, and if I have the choice, it’s going to be one of comfort! And I stayed at an unforgettable glamping resort in Gatlinburg that may just seal the deal on your family’s next trip.
Staying in a Safari Tent
Camp LeConte Luxury Outdoor Resort is only two-and-a-half hours from Greenville yet feels a world away. It’s a luxury camping resort that has safari tents, campers, and treehouses for rent plus spaces for RVs and regular tents. I had seen signs for the resort on my previous trips to the Smoky Mountains and was intrigued, so when I had the opportunity to stay in a safari tent there, you bet I took it.
Our safari tent, which was imported from Europe, was basically a huge tent with walls of strong fabric stretched over wooden poles. It had two areas, one for sleeping, and a deck for sitting and eating. The back sleeping part was closed off with a zippered door and you could also close off a second part with a counter and storage area, leaving the deck open. We did that just for privacy and saw most of the other occupied safari tents doing the same.
While there are no lions or tigers outside this safari tent, there may be bears, so you need to be sure to store your food sealed in your car or in a bear proof canister. No bears showed up for our stay though (I really wanted to see one – maybe next time).
There is also an outdoor charcoal ring with grill top for use plus a table and chairs and a wooden chair swing. Fire pits with chairs are nearby as well as potable water spouts.
The most uncomfortable part of regular camping for me is the hard ground and lack of air conditioning. It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re sweating on top of a thin mat. That’s no issue at Camp LeConte. Our tent had a large, comfortable bed with a set bunk beds and an air conditioning unit. It was super clean and the tent even had windows (you could roll them closed at night for privacy) and a closet to store your bags. There’s also electricity so charging your phone is no problem.
It was very comfortable and my kids loved the outdoor swing and deck.
Amenities & Location
One thing I’ve learned about taking kids on vacation is that a pool on location is key. Camp LeConte has a small pool perfect for lounging after a long day of hiking and where the kids somehow still have the energy to go for a swim.
The resort also has a playground and laundry is on-site if you need it. The bathhouse is within walking distance to the tents and campers and was very clean. Towels, linens, and shampoo/conditioner/soap are all provided.
There’s a general store also so if you forgot anything essential, you should be able to get it. They also sell firewood and ice, which is convenient.
Check-in was a breeze. A welcome packet is placed outside the bathrooms and laundry area and you just grab it and go to your tent, treehouse, or camper.
Camp LeConte is located just a few miles from downtown Gatlinburg and about 25 minutes to Pigeon Forge. The trolley stops right outside the resort so you can easily make use of that service if you don’t want to drive and park in town. There is a grocery store right down the street from the resort as well nearby restaurants, gas stations, and a CVS. The entrance to the Smoky Mountains is maybe 10 minutes away without traffic.
I loved that the resort was close enough to Gatlinburg to be convenient but far enough to be away from the noise and traffic. The resort was pretty full when we went but it was quiet and peaceful and best of all, restful.
The resort is open March through December.
Family, Friends or Couple Options
Camp LeConte caters to everyone and I love the variety of options they have. Our safari tent easily slept a family of four but they have others that are better suited for couples or even a girls weekend. Safari tents sleep two, four, or six people and range in price from $127-$150 a night. There was a group of four girlfriends next to us who looked like they were having an awesome time!
The treehouses, which I’m totally eyeing for my next trip, look amazing. There are three of them at the resort and perched in the trees (obviously). They start at $197 a night. There are also two 1960s retro campers at the resort that look adorable. They are $139 a night.
One important item to note is that pets are not allowed in the safari tents, the campers, or the luxury treehouses. Pets are allowed if you reserve one of the RV sites.
Here’s a video tour of our safari tent:
Make Some Memories
All of these options at Camp LeConte are just perfect for that getaway you’ve been wanting to take but maybe aren’t sure where to go or what to do. We have a huge guide to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge if you’re looking for options on things to do in the area. This is by far personally one of my favorite places to take my kids because of all the unique things to do and the endless adventures to have at the National Park.
My kids were sad to leave Camp LeConte – they loved the bunk beds and the whole experience of glamping plus the pool was endless entertainment. We explored Gatlinburg and the park during our trip, heading to Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, and the SkyBridge. It was nice to know we had a quiet, comfortable place to come back to each night after our adventures!
Have you ever camped in a safari tent?
Such an amazing way to go camping with the kids. Thank you Kristina for the wonderful ideas. Will look into this.