Monday, November 4, 2013

A short stay in a North Carolina mountain retreat

October 26-29, 2013
Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

In planning our fall adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we wanted to take advantage of some free stays at campgrounds we learned about at the Tampa RV show last January.  Our experience staying at the first one, Deer Creek Motorcoach Resort, in Galax, Virginia was fantastic so we were looking forward to another free 3-night stay in a similar resort.  

asheville to lake toxaway map

Lake Toxaway on the map looks like it would be about an hour’s drive from Asheville as it is only 50 miles. I was already forewarned when I called a few days ahead for a reservation at Mountain Falls that we needed to be sure to take Hwy 64 to Brevard and then east to Lake Toxaway as other routes are not recommended for motorhomes.  Okay then. Hwy 64 from Brevard to the resort was 20-25 mph curves up and down hills for about 16 miles. Not exactly an easy trip to get to this place, but knowing that the resort was built for large motorhomes gave us more confidence as they all had to get there the same way.

We arrived from Asheville about two hours later and were pleased to see an absolutely gorgeous park nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This place was formerly an Outdoor Resort of America called the Blue Ridge Mountains Motorcoach Resort before they sold out. It is now owned by a couple who is making tremendous improvements with a two year expansion plan. Most of the lots are owned, but they are open to the public for rentals at about $50 a night.  It is a motorcoach only resort restricted to Class A or Class C motorhomes that are 26’ or more in length.  

We actually had our choice of several lots as this time of year most of the owners had already headed south. They had assigned us to a owner’s lot that had an outdoor fireplace, granite kitchen, and patio furniture, but renters are not allowed to use these amenities. (I think that is somewhat typical—not sure.)

The resort has a lovely pool and spa, but they were also already closed for the season. The elevation is  3200’, so the temperatures were pretty chilly here already—60s in the day with mid-40s overnight. They also have a nine-hole par 3 golf course that is part of the resort and a small lake with a fountain.

Our first day here we just took advantage of walking around this fairly large park (140 sites with another 85 in development) and enjoying the landscaping with many plants ablaze in fall color.

We were especially impressed with the new section they area adding to this park called The Ridge at the top of the mountain. The views were incredible and these lots are designed to have coach houses, or as coach cottages as they call them.

If this area was a place I wanted to spend about six months, it would be very tempting to check out the cost.  However, we don’t see ourselves ever purchasing a lot as it would defeat our intention to see as much of this country as possible before we go back to a stick house.  I think to make it worth your while you would need to find a place that you would want to use for at least six months and have a long term plan to continue owning a motorhome.  So far in our travels, Florida is the only place we would consider staying that long, but the bigger question is for how many years?  I thought these free stays would include a sales presentation but that never happened in either place.  It would have been interesting to hear their pitch for owning vs. renting as a way to be better understand what motivates people to buy their own lots.

On day two I had hopes of hiking around Lake Toxaway, but I should have done more research.  We didn’t find a public access point, only a country club and some private home developments.  Instead we drove back on the very curvy road to check out the mountain town of Brevard and get some groceries.  The town has a charming historic district with lots of cute shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. It was voted one of the coolest small towns in America so it must have more attractions than meets the eye. I did learn it is famous for its music festivals in the summer and annual cycling events.

On our last day here, we decided to head in the other direction (west) to check out the town of Franklin, North Carolina in the Smoky Mountains. I had met a couple who spends every fall at a place they highly recommended called the Great Outdoors RV Resort (not to be confused with the Outdoor Resort franchise.)   Franklin supposedly has much more to offer than the smaller town of Brevard, so we thought it worthwhile to check out as a place we might want to stay for a month next fall.

The road to Franklin was a much more intense curvy drive than we had imagined. In fact, neither of us ever remember being on such a curvy road for so many miles ever in our lives (40 miles took us about 90 minutes). Yet, we were surprised to see several high end real estate developments along the way. Apparently, these folks don’t mind the challenging drive to get to their mountain retreat.

lake toxaway to franklin route

The resort turned out not to be very attractive to us (it felt congested), nor we were that taken with the area. I looked up popular activities for Franklin and the most popular seems to be digging for sapphires in one of several local mines.  Not something we have ever done, but it would be fun to find a big gemstone.  The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts is located here which is probably a big draw as it is a rather new state of the art theater (opened in 2009) with big name events.

On the way back we went a slightly different route to check out the mountain village of      Highlands.  Located on a plateau in the southern Appalachian Mountains, this small town was probably the most appealing we had seen. Several high end golf courses in the area probably contribute to the resort-like feeling of the town, but in a tasteful vs. touristy way.  For a town with a population of less than a 1000, it seems to have a lot to offer with four theaters, several antique dealers, historic inns, and a center for the visual arts—in addition to the outdoor recreation in the area. I wished we had saved our appetites for a meal here as several of the restaurants have won Wine Spectator awards.  Vic was already road weary from the curvy drive and it was getting late in the day or we would have spent a couple hours wandering around main street.  I didn’t take any photos but found this chamber of commerce photo that captures the romantic feeling of the town.

That wraps up our 3-day stay in this area of the North Carolina.  Our next major destination was going to be the South Carolina coast but I discovered a COE (where several bloggers I read were staying) that was about halfway to the coast, so our next stop is Petersburg Campground at the Strom Thurmond Corps of Engineer Recreation area.


  1. Ifollow your blog, your travels are amazing. We are thinking of full timing in the near future. I retire next summer. We spend about 10 weeks in Florida every winter. Love the lifestyle. Do you regret anything about full time? Debbie

    1. We honestly don't have any regrets about selling our home and embracing this lifestyle for the past two+ years. So far, so good!

  2. Very interesting tour of some towns I've heard of but have never been to. Living in the foothills of the mountains for so many years, all I ever wanted to see was the coast. You'll get to Strom's place just about the time Paul & Marti and Mike & Terri get back, lucky you. Hope to see you in Florida. We're going to zip down to Edisto Beach with a few day stop in Santee on the way. Need to get to some warmer weather. High was 49 here today and low 31. Gemeouttahere!!

    1. Sadly, we did not get to meet them as they were gone on vacation the week we were there. Another time, we hope.

      Yes, we are ready for warmer weather too, but it is still a little too warm in Florida for us. We are hoping a couple more weeks will be perfect timing.

  3. Highlands looks so lovely.

    That does seem strange that you had no sales pitch. We are a bit leary of doing those types of resorts due to possible high pressure to buy talks. This one is a gem for sure.

  4. Another beautiful resort! But like you and Vic, we aren't ready to be owners. It is fun to stay at them though...

    1. Yes, it has surprised me how friendly the owners of lots at the campgrounds have been. I have heard some places have a distinct owners vs. renters mentality but we have not experienced this.

  5. We've never had a sales at pitch at any of these resorts. They usually just let us know they are available if we have questions. Nice.

    These are my kind of places to stay. It is worth the extra cost for space and comfort.

    Sounds like you had a great visit even if it was short:)

    1. Same for us. I think if it is an appealing place and you are in the market for a lot, it would almost sell itself.


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