The smoky mountains are full of adventures and fun activities of a wide variety–no matter your interests, age or thrill level, you will be sure to have a blast. Something that any visitor will need, though, is a great place to stay. There are many accommodations to choose from, but you definitely want to stay at Wilderness at the Smokies. Wilderness at the Smokies features both River Lodge and Stone Hill Lodge to host your family, and both are great options. The two resorts are both located on the property in addition to the Wild WaterDome–the region’s largest indoor water park, two full sized golf courses conveniently located right near the resort, three outdoor waterparks–plus the all-new Soaky Mountain is located right next door, a family adventure center with a food court and dozens of fun games and activities, as well as multiple dining options and even a coffee shop. With over 700 available rooms and condos available in 14 different configurations, Wilderness at the Smokies is the ideal family getaway.
In partnership with Wilderness at the Smokies, we were hosted at the River Lodge in the One Bedroom Deluxe Pool View suite for two nights, and it is the PERFECT family accommodation. This two bedroom suite features two bathrooms, which is a must-have for families. The first room features a full-sized kitchen complete with a range, dishwasher, and full fridge. The kitchen also comes stocked with pots and pans, dinnerware, cups, silverware, and small sized cleaning supplies like soap and trash bags, as well as an individually sealed and packaged dishwashing sponges. Directly connected to the kitchen is a sit-down dining area with beautiful wooden chairs and table.
Adjacent to the kitchen and dining area is a living room that converts into a bedroom with a queen sized pull-out couch and a queen murphy bed. The living room includes a fireplace and television to provide you with cozy at-home feel even while traveling on the road. There is a floor-to-ceiling curtain that slides across the threshold of the dining room and living room to provide privacy for the murphy bed and pull-out couch.
The adjoining rooms feature heavy doors that provide good sound insulation so the sound does not easily travel between the two rooms. When traveling with a busy one year old, it was nice to have Carolynn in the adjoining room with her baby monitor, while keeping the doors mostly closed and the curtain drawn but still be able to move around and talk in the second room without disturbing her.
Our room where we slept in had a walk-out patio with a view of one of the seasonal outdoor waterparks. The beautiful Tennessee weather allowed us to enjoy time outside in the evening during our stay. The second room included a small side table with two chairs, and a loveseat beside the queen sized bed. A full height, partial-depth divider wall sat between the queen bed, and a queen-twin bunk set made of logs. The room as previously mentioned included the second bathroom, and an additional small kitchen sink, microwave, coffee pot, and mini-fridge. The two conjoined rooms could sleep up to ten people and provides a good amount of space for everyone. Both rooms also include full sized closets with room to store luggage so everyone is not on top of each other.
Soaky Mountain waterpark, the newest waterpark to the join Wilderness at the Smokies family, is located just down the road from River Lodge, but while it is technically in walking distance you will definitely want to drive over because you will be exhausted from all the fun to be had at Soaky Mountain. There are shops, seven different dining options–definitely try the Oreo funnel cake while you are there–a little’s play area, a bigger kids area, family rides and thrill rides. There is even a HUGE wave pool and lazy river.
The Avalaunch water-coaster was definitely my husbands favorite, not only did he have a blast on the slide/coaster, but he really liked the design and mechanics of how the ride operated. The Blue Mountain Mayhem was a fast-paced multi-person tube ride with a medium thrill level–a little more on the wild side, but not nearly as thrilling as the Avalaunch. The wave pool featured huge thrilling waves that were well monitored by life-guard staff, where I (Mom) and Carolynn spent most of the afternoon. Carolynn was a little played out from the kid area and sun, so we covered ourselves in sunscreen and snuggled up to the soothing sounds of the waves while Carolynn napped and Dad explored the waterpark with a few of Carolynn’s aunties, our sisters.
A few other rides available at Soaky Mountain are the Splash and Furious–which offers a competitive opportunity between four slides in a head-first mat race to see who finishes the ride first and the Holler-a gentle start before a dramatic fall will leave you excited for more.
The Hive is the perfect kids area with tons of waterplay options to wear those kiddos out while they have a blast. We spent time in the Boomer’s Bay which features miniature versions of the larger slides, swings where the babies can drag their toes through the water, and small water features to play in. Our favorite part about this was that each age range was broken into the smaller areas so kids of appropriate ages were able to play and have fun without being on top of each other. Carolynn enjoyed swinging before she was ready for her nap.
Plenty of lockers, changing areas, and cabanas were located through the waterpark. There were tables with umbrellas, in addition to covered and exposed lounge chairs spaced around the varieties of areas in Soaky Mountain. This place is a destination must-see for anyone traveling down to the Smoky Mountains. There is so much more to do at Soak Mountain than what we were able to experience in an afternoon, so you need to book your trip now to experience all the fun for yourself.
After Soaky Mountain closed for the day, we headed back to the resort and spent the rest of the evening in the Wild WaterDome. A smaller wave pool, kids play area and fun waterslides awaited us inside an energy efficient Foil Tech glass roof dome that allowed sunshine in.
Wild WaterDome’s Strom Chaser Thrill-Ride is an exhilarating multi-person tube ride that dropped my husband, two sisters and me into a 55 foot swirling tunnel that lights up at night and cane be seen up to a mile away. There was another multi-person tube right that was a ton of fun, and smaller single and double rider slides that my younger sisters had a blast on.
Body boarding was something that Shane knew he had to do and had a blast trying out. There is an extra waiver to sign before you complete this area. We grabbed a margarita and some snacks from the food court area and had a blast. My sisters and I spent a lot of time in the wave pool here as well, although they did race through the adventure areas. Carolynn decided that she was ready to bed and retired early with grandma and grandpa back to the room.
While we were in the hotel room one of the afternoons, there was a fire alarm that went off and the friendly concierge text service, Monty the Moose, alerted us to be sure we vacated the room and got to safety. While we waited for EMS, the staff was calm and professional, the fire department arrived in a reasonable amount of time and cleared the building for safety, and then Monty let us know that it was safe to enter the building. While of course this may not seem like the ideal thing to happen during a stay, we were glad that everyone was safe and were highly impressed with the organization and communication between the property and their guests.
Our stay at Wilderness at the Smokies went by so fast, but I know that we will be back. An ideal stay would include three days with time for the arcade, both the indoor and your selection of waterparks, and the wide variety of dining opportunities. This family-fun packaged adventure will likely remain one of our favorite places to stay for a long, long time.