Visiting Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center in Waynesville NC

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Ever since spending my boyhood summers on Lake Hartwell in North Georgia, I’ve become a lifelong lover of the myriad beautiful lakes in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Named after early 19th century Cherokee leader Chief Junaluska, Lake Junaluska NC is one of the oldest man-made lakes in North Carolina.

The Lake Junaluska Dam on Richland Creek was constructed from 1911-1913 by the Southern Methodist Church, who wanted to create 1,200-acre haven for fellowship and important gatherings. 

Today, the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center offers welcoming weekend getaways for anyone seeking rest and relaxation in a place surrounded by the staggering beauty of nature.

There are two Lake Junaluska hotels, campsites and cabins at the Lake Junaluska Campground, and recreation opportunities ranging from fishing and kayaking to playing a round at the Lake Junaluska Golf Course. 

We enjoy spending time at the lake every time we visit nearby mountain towns such as Waynesville and Sylva/Dillsboro, and especially love the sunset views from the Terrace Hotel and Inspiration Point.

Read on for our in-depth guide to visiting the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center, including an overview of the Lake Junaluska lodging options, restaurants, walking trails, campgrounds, and other amenities. 

READ MORE:The 20 Best Things to Do in Waynesville NC & Haywood County


Lake Junaluska Map

Lake Junaluska Map

Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center Info

ADDRESS: 91 N Lakeshore Dr, Waynesville NC, 28785

PHONE: (800) 222-4930


ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS: Lake Junaluska hotels include the 131-room Historic Lambuth Inn and the 105-room Terrace Hotel.  There are also myriad rentals on Lake Junaluska, from pet-friendly cabins and lake houses to apartments. 





From Downtown Waynesville, take US-276 N/Russ Ave for 2.2 miles, then turn right onto Dellwood Rd/Dellwood City Rd. Follow that for 0.4 miles before turning left onto N Lakeshore Dr. The Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center will be on the left. 


From Downtown Asheville, take I-240 W/US-70 W toward US 74 Alternate and keep right at the fork to continue on I-26 E. In 3.2 miles, take exit 31B to merge onto I-40 West.

Take exit 27 for US-74 toward US-19/US-23/Waynesville/Maggie Valley and continue onto US-74 West. Follow US-74 West  for 3.7 miles, then take exit 103 for US-19 toward Maggie Valley/Cherokee.

In 0.4 miles, continue onto US-19 S/Dellwood Rd/Dellwood City Rd. After 0.7 miles, turn right onto N Lakeshore Dr. The Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center will be on the left. 

READ MORE: 10 Must-Visit Blue Ridge Mountain Resorts for 2024

Fishing on Lake Junaluska NC

Lake Junaluska History

The idea for Lake Junaluska NC started at a 1908 meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South in Chattanooga TN.

Methodist pastors James Atkins and George R. Stuart wanted to create “a great assembly ground” to use for gatherings and conferences. They bought 1,200 acres of land, and construction of the Lake Junaluska dam on Richland Creek began in 1911.

By 1913 there were 13 cottages and the new Stuart Auditorium built next to the 200-acre lake, with the first of several Lake Junaluska hotels (the Auditorium Hotel) built in 1914. 

The Junaluska Inn was built in 1917, but it burned down the following year, and the Auditorium Hotel burned down in 1920. They were replaced by a new hotel, the Lambuth Inn (named for Bishop Walter Lambuth), which opened in 1921. 

In 1922 they erected a large, lighted cross on Inspiration Point (which overlooks the lake), and the Shackford Hall classroom building was constructed on the opposite end of the lake in 1923.

Both the Lambuth Inn and Shackford Hall are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

By the 1950s, the World Methodist Council had moved its headquarters to Lake Junaluska. But in 2021 the WMC sold its building (which included a museum) back to the Lake Junaluska Assembly Inc.

Today, the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center hosts a wide range of events, including programming for various cultural festivals, church-related gatherings, and Appalachian bluegrass concerts. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Romantic Getaways in NC (Hotels, Inns & Resorts)


Lake Junaluska NC Hotels & Rentals

Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center
The Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska

The Lambuth Inn

One of the oldest hotels in the state of North Carolina, the Lambuth Inn was built in 1921 and has been renovated and expanded multiple times over the last century. The most recent renovation was in 2018.  

Located atop a hill that overlooks Lake Junaluska and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, the Lambuth Inn features 44 rooms, including King Rooms, Double Rooms, and Standard Twin Rooms. 

All rooms include free Wi-fi and access to the hotel’s seasonal outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, garden, and terrace. Some rooms include spectacular views of Lake Junaluska, and Inspiration Point is an amazing place to watch the sunset. 

Guests also have access to all Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center amenities, which include restaurants, walking trails, and water-based recreation such as fishing and kayaking. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Hotels in Asheville NC to Visit

The Terrace at Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center
The Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska

The Terrace Hotel at Lake Junaluska

The newest of the hotels in Lake Junaluska NC, the Terrace Hotel offers 105 rooms, ranging from Double, 2-Queen, and King Rooms to Lakeside King Suites. 

All rooms at the Terrace Hotel include a flat-screen TV, coffee makers, iron/ironing board, hairdryer, heat and A/C, free Wi-Fi access, and a Continental breakfast. 

There’s also a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, and fitness center at the Lake Junaluska Conference Center, as well as private meeting facilities, a gift shop, and an ice cream/coffee shop. 

Guests also have access to fishing and kayaking on Lake Junaluska, as well as the property’s gardens, restaurants, and walking trails.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hotels & Cabin Rentals in NC & VA

RV at the Lake Junaluska Campgrounds in Lake Junaluska NC
RV at the Lake Junaluska Campgrounds

Lake Junaluska Campgrounds & Rentals

Open from the first week of April through late Fall, the pet-friendly Lake Junaluska Campground offers myriad RV sites, tent camping, a rental cabin, 3 apartments, and a meeting lodge. 

Their spacious RV sites include water, sewer, and electric hook-ups, and some also have cable TV and Wi-Fi available. You can choose from 50 amp back-in and parallel sites, 50 amp pull-through sites, and 30 amp back-in sites. 

Tent camping is available in a separate shaded area with raised gravel pads, and there are picnic tables at all sites and fire rings at many RV sites and all tent sites. 

The campground also has several Lake Junaluska rentals available (including 3 dog-friendly apartments and a cabin), each of which includes AC, TV, a small kitchen area, and a private bathroom.

All campground guests get access to the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center’s lakeside outdoor swimming pool (open Memorial Day Weekend-Labor Day), shuffleboard, tennis, playgrounds, and lakeside walking trail.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Campgrounds in the North Carolina Mountains


Things to Do at Lake Junaluska

Kayaks at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center
Kayaks at Lake Junaluska

Water-Based Activities

If you love water sports, the are plenty of fun Lake Junaluska activities to choose from.

The outdoor Lake Junaluska pool is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Weekend. Guests of the various Lake Junaluska hotels and cabins get in free, while visitors can purchase day passes or a Summer Activity Pass.

There are kayaks, canoes, and SUPs available for rent at Lake Junaluska Outfitters, which is open daily in Summer and on Friday-Sunday through early Fall. Charges range from $10-$15/hour, depending on the time of day you visit. 

Fishing Lake Junaluska is open to the public with a valid NC fishing license, but no gas-powered motor boats are allowed. The most common fish caught there include bass, perch, crappie, brim, bluegill, and trout.

We also enjoyed 45-minute guided tours of the lake and its history aboard a historic boat, the Cherokee IV. These guided lake cruises are $10 for ages 6 & up, and they also offer private cruises starting at $350. Check their website for details!

READ MORE: The 20 Best Lakes in North Carolina (Mountains, Coast & Beyond)

Monte Cristo Crepe at Crepe & Custard Restaurant in Lake Junaluska NC
Monte Cristo Crepe at Crepe & Custard Restaurant

Lake Junaluska Restaurants

There are several different restaurants at Lake Junaluska, including one we (as longtime professional restaurant critics) would rank among the best restaurants in Waynesville NC! 

Those staying in hotels at Lake Junaluska can enjoy a hot breakfast buffet at The Terrace Hotel, which has a huge dining room and outdoor patio overlooking the lake. Breakfast may be included in your stay, or purchased for $7.75 to $15.50. 

We enjoyed visiting Junaluska Gifts & Grounds in the Lake Junaluska Conference Center, where they have locally roasted Fair Trade coffee, smoothies, and hand-dipped ice cream, as well as preserves, salad dressings, and more.

But in our experience the best of the Lake Junaluska restaurants is Crepe & Custard, which is co-owned by Drake and Jessie Fultz (of Haywood 209 Cafe fame). It’s right by the lake, with a lovely outdoor patio. 

Their simple menu includes Sweet, Savory, and Breakfast Crepes, as well as salads, sides, and a Soup of the Day. Try their Monte Cristo, Beef & Cheddar Crepe, Build-Your-Own Custard option, or the decadent Nothing But Nutella Crepe!

READ MORE: The 14 Best Restaurants in Waynesville NC for Foodies

Susanna Wesley Garden at Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center
Susanna Wesley Garden

Lake Junaluska Gardens & Walking Trails

In addition to its religious landmarks (including Inspiration Point and the Memorial Chapel), the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center offers numerous gardens and walking trails for “spiritual renewal.”

The Lake Junaluska Biblical Garden is home to edible plants mentioned in the Bible, while the Corneille Bryan Native Garden features more than 500 species of native plants (including NC wildflowers that attract beautiful birds).

We rally loved the Weatherby Park Garden, the Japanese maples in Fulbright Park, and the gorgeous fall colors at the Susanna Wesley Garden, where they host weddings and other private functions.

Flower fans will also adore the Lake Junaluska walking trail known as the Rose Walk, which features a combination of 225 hybrid tea, grandiflora, carpet, shrub, and floribunda roses along its route around the lake.

READ MORE: The 20 Best North Carolina Hiking Trails

Lake Junaluska Golf Course Aerial Photo
Photo courtesy Lake Junaluska Conference And Retreat Center

Lake Junaluska Golf Course

Although we’re not personally big fans of golfing, those who are will enjoy a day on the links at the 68-par Lake Junaluska Golf Course.

Offering exceptional views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, this 5,108-yard golf course is open to the public and is very family-friendly. 

The Pro Shop & Golf Course are open all year round (Winter hours are 10AM-5PM daily), but note that their hours are weather-dependent. It’s best to call 828-456-5777 before you visit to schedule a tee time.

Players of all skill levels and ages are welcome, and daily rates range from $37 to $46 for 18 holes with a golf cart, and $25 for those willing to walk. There also also Junior, regular, and Senior Membership rates available.  –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together. Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama. Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.