1 | Gatlinburg Falls Resort (Editor's Choice―family resort): www.cabinsofthesmokymountains.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 | Alpine Mountain Village (Editor's Choice―family resort): www.alpinemountainvillage.com or 1-888-493-2916
Highlights: Well-planned new resort where all cabins look distinctly different. Luxury décor inside, with open floor plans and upscale amenities―leather couches, granite countertops, flat-screen TVs, and community pool. Adorable small wedding chapel.
Resort community: more than 60 cabins (more under construction; expansions planned) featuring two to six bedrooms. Cabins closely spaced, but well designed so you're not peering into your neighbor's window.
Location: Pigeon Forge (less than 5 minutes off the Parkway)
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $140-$240, plus $40 cleaning fee (varies by size), 5% reservation fee, and $25 damage waiver
3 | Eagle's Ridge Resort: www.eaglesridge.com or 1-866-369-2946
Highlights: Convenient location, inventive package deals, good seasonal specials, solid management company. Sister resorts include Heritage Mountain Rentals, Hideaway Hills Resort, Country Oaks Cabins, and Summit Real Estate.
Resort community: 300 cabins, one to nine bedrooms (largest sleeps 30 people). Fairly closely spaced, all log style.
Location: Main resort sits five minutes off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Newer Eagle's Ridge North development, off Wears Valley Road, offers recently built cabins with more interesting floor plans.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $114-$169, plus $40 processing fee
4 | 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
5 | Starr Crest: www.starrcrestresort.com or 1-866-857-2123
Highlights: Huge views of the park from a high mountain perch. Upscale decor and amenities―think interior decorator meets rustic elegant.
Resort Community: 180 luxury cabins built closely on a dramatic incline. Roads are a bit steep, and some cabins sit on such a dramatic incline that the foundations appear as big as the cabins themselves. Not for those with a fear of heights. Cabins are closely spaced, but designed so that once you're inside, you won't see your neighbors.
Location: Pigeon Forge (near Dollywood)
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $129-$299, plus $45 reservation fee, $20 hot tub fee, and $250-$1,000, damage/security authorization
6 | Brother's Cove (Editor's Choice): www.brotherscove.com or 1-877-276-2683
Highlights: Best pool in the Smokies―heated, located on a hillside with spectacular views and ample lounging space. (Don't let its nickname "cement pond" turn you off.) Cabin architecture is decidedly different―each floor plan is unique, but common features include giant windows with postcard views, open spaces with natural light, and interesting touches such as rustic wood spiral staircases.
Resort community: Secluded location with 75 cabins on large, private lots. The developer displaced as few trees as possible when building, so the hillside feels natural and wooded, not clear-cut like some other resorts. Amenities include a soccer field, heated pool, pavilion with giant stone fireplace. Cabins have one to five bedrooms.
Location: Off Walden's Creek Road, between Pigeon Forge and Wears Valley.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $99-$215, plus $35 reservation fee, $35-$95 cleaning fee (varies by size), and $50 nonrefundable deposit
7 | Hidden Mountain Resort: www.hiddenmountain.com or 1-800-452-5992
Highlights: Many choices, including cabins, cottages, and villas. Exotic community pool and hot tubs by reception hall/conference area. Internet specials available. Family run since 1981.
Resort community: One of the larger resorts in the area, with more than 250 cabins. Some closely spaced. Views vary by location. Nicely furnished units. Cabins have from 1 to 14 bedrooms.
Location: Two locations in Sevierville, close to Pigeon Forge: Hidden Mountain East (1 mile off the Parkway) and Hidden Mountain West (5 miles off the Parkway).
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $75-$150. (An optional "deposit guarantee" (about $25) on units with four or fewer bedrooms allows you to cancel up until 4 p.m. on day before arrival.)
8 | Oak Haven Resort (Editor's Choice―spa): www.oakhavenresort.com or 1-800-652-2611;
Highlights: Friendly community with flat, walkable roads and a neighborhood feel. Fantastic day spa―in a cabin―with gift shop, hydrotherapy, massages, facials, and "chocolate ice cream pedicure" that's as delicious as it sounds. Free Wireless Internet access in every cabin. Free daily housekeeping (this is rare!). On-property staff 24-7.
Resort community: Approximately 100 cabins, with more being built. Older units may have navy or forest green carpets, but newer units offer upscale decor. Community pool, arcade game room, and playground near the spa. Cabins have from one to seven bedrooms.
Location: Close to I-40 in Sevierville. Very convenient to Knoxville, but a good 30-40 minute drive from the national park. Close to Bass Pro Shop and factory outlets. One mile off the Parkway.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $110-$195
TOWNSEND, WEARS VALLEY, MARYVILLE
9 | 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)
10 | Butterfly Gap Retreat (Editor's Choice―most unusual): www.butterflygap.com or (865) 984-6021
Highlights: An undiscovered gem. Strikingly modern guest houses―you can't really call them cabins―add an unexpected twist to this 900-acre preserve, which borders the scenic Foothills Parkway. Contemporary interiors (a walk-in shower room, a pull-out bed on a screened sleeping porch) feel inviting. A lake, nondenominational chapel, and reception hall (with pivoting walls for indoor/outdoor parties) set this place apart. Note: Children and pets are not permitted.
Resort community: Five guest houses tucked in the woods offer plenty of privacy. The owners will bring breakfast to your door―or leave all the fixings for cooking your own. Designed and built by a local family (including two twentysomething sisters who hammered away with carpenters), this is a popular wedding spot. Weekends book in advance, so check availability during the week or in the off-season.
Location: On the outskirts of Maryville, about 20 minutes from Townsend. You won't want to drive into town for meals, so bring groceries or make advance arrangements for their on-staff chef to prepare dinner.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $175-$195
11 | Mountain Top Resorts: www.mountaintopresorts.com or 1-800-490-7450
Highlights: Cabins available with lakefront views, mountain scenery, and playground facilities. Renters at all resort within Mountain Top Rentals have access to private amenities at Douglas Lake Resort. Some pet-friendly units.
Resort community: Cabins available in Eagle Springs Resort, Lone Branch Resort, and Douglas Lake Resort.Access to shared boat launches and docks at Douglas Lake. Cabins have from one to eight bedrooms.
Location: resort complexes throughout Sevier county, located west of Pigeon Forge. Cabins also available in greater Pigeon Forge area.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $99-$175, plus $200 refundable security deposit, and $45 nonrefundable pet fee. Note: Daily maid service is available for $20 per day. Book through their Web site and receive a 30% discount.
12 | Paradise Landing Resort: www.paradiselandingresort.com or 1-888-778-6287
Highlights: Cabins close to Douglas Lake, some with private docks (others with shared access to resort dock, launch ramp, and limited boat slips).
Resort community: about 10 cabins in rental program. Cabins have one to four bedrooms.
Location: On Lake Douglas, east of Knoxville in Dandridge. About 30-40 minutes drive from Sevierville.
Price of one-bedroom cabin: $100-$140.