1 | Gatlinburg Falls Resort (Editor's Choice―family resort): www.gatlinburgfalls.com or 1-800-836-8600
Highlights: Best game rooms around with arcade games, pool tables, extra space, and a few private movie theaters. Attentive service, great perks, top-notch cleanliness. (We spied housekeepers cleaning behind the fridge.) Small community pool with waterfall. Some units are pet friendly.
Resort: 116 cabins, ranging from 1 to 9 bedrooms (sleeps up to 32), built closely. Spacious floor plans, modern décor, ample balcony space. Nice hillside views. Easy roads. On-site maintenance and front desk.
Location: Just off stoplight #1 as you enter Gatlinburg from Pigeon Forge. Only five minutes from town.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $115-$350, plus $25-$75 cleaning fee (varies by cabin size) and $25 hot tub fee; no reservations fee
2 | The Preserve: www.thepreserveresort.com or 1-866-361-8439
Highlights: Phenomenal views from the crest of a hill. Luxury décor and amenities. Floor plans that maximize the view with plenteous windows. No cabins blocking your view of the park. Pavilion, wedding chapel, sauna/workout room, community pool, and high-speed Internet access.
Resort community: 77 cabins built on a cleared ridgeline facing the national park. Units are built closely with similar floor plans, but they're designed so that you're not looking into your neighbor's window.
Location: Pigeon Forge (in the general vicinity of Dollywood)
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $164-$299, plus $45 reservation fee and $20 hot tub fee
3 | Black Bear Ridge Resort: www.blackbearridgeresort.com or 1-888-889-7865
Highlights: Super luxury cabins with leather couches, designer furniture, flat-screen TVs, and well-stocked game rooms. Some units feature indoor pools and/or saunas. Resort features wedding chapel, salon, limo service, community pool, in-room massage, gift baskets upon request. Unobstructed views of Bluff Mountain. Can book groups of up to 200. Great off-season discounts of up to 50%.
Resort community: 140 cabins ranging from one to eight bedrooms (sleeps up to 22), closely situated on clear-cut hillside. Wide roads. Similar floorplans.
Location: Wears Valley, about 10 minutes from Pigeon Forge.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $99-$289, plus $50-$200 cleaning fee (varies by size)
4 | Big Cabins: www.bigcabins.com or 1-866-305-8739
Highlights: Caters to big groups―family reunions, church groups, corporate retreats, and weddings. Supersized cabins sleep up to 58, and this company can accommodate groups of up to 300 by booking adjacent cabins. They'll cater meals, arrange group excursions, and book side-trips and tickets for the group.
Cabins: More than 40 extra-large luxury properties (plus more than 100 smaller properties available through sister companies Majestic Mountain Vacations, Legacy Mountain Resort, and Sherwood Forest). Big Cabins offer up to 12 bedrooms, and properties are fully loaded with amenities and open spaces for gathering. Some feature TVs, DVD players, and satellite TV in every bedroom. Some units are pet friendly.
Location: scattered throughout Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $138-$275, plus $45 reservation fee and $20 hot tub fee
5 | Jackson Mountain Homes (Editor's Choice―romantic retreat): www.jacksonmountain.com or 1-800-473-3163
Highlights: Wide range of attractive, well-appointed cabins with one to eight bedrooms (sleeps up to 30) that appeals to both couples and big groups. Professional service from a respected company. Emphasis on cleanliness. High decor standards. Some homes with free long distance calling and high-speed internet.
Individual cabins: Around 167 scattered throughout Gatlinburg and outside the city limits. Tip: Ask about cabins in Pinnacle Vista, a secluded area off U.S. 321 with spectacular views and spacious lots. In Gatlinburg, Appalachian Lodge is a stunner.
Location: Gatlinburg, Cobbly Nob, Pittman Center, Pinnacle Vista, Arts & Crafts Community.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $100-$180, plus $55 reservation fee and $150 credit card hold; no cleaning or hot tub fees
6 | Tanasi Lodge (Editor's Choice―Best Views): www.summitcabins.com or (865) 207-4961
Highlights: One-of-a-kind lodge on the summit of Hatcher Mountain, with sunrise or sunset views from 10 of its 11 bedrooms. Ample decks and lots of windows maximize the 360-degree vistas. Leather sectionals, granite countertops, contemporary decor. Pet friendly ($50 fee per pet, with prior approval).
Cabins: Just two cabins built and owned by a Knoxville couple. Tanasi sleeps 26 to 28. Dreamcatcher, next door, sleeps 12 to 14. Road to summit has sketchy, steep gravel section for last a quarter mile.
Location: Wears Valley, halfway between Pigeon Forge and Townsend. Close to a less-traveled entrance to the national park.
Price: Tanasi Lodge rents for $750-$1,200 per night. Dreamcatcher rents for $225-$325 per night (depending on occupancy and season), plus $100-$150 cleaning/supply fee