After driving the Blue Ridge Parkway stretch between Downtown Asheville and Boone NC 4 to 5 times in the last two years, it’s become clear that the North Carolina High Country is one of the our favorite places in the world.
From Craggy Gardens and Mount Mitchell to Linville Falls, Linville Gorge, and Grandfather Mountain, this 100-mile stretch of road is blessed with more than its fair share of jaw-dropping natural beauty.
Home to the tallest mountains east of the Mississippi, the scenic vistas offered along the way seem to stretch on endlessly, unimpeded by any signs of development (other than the engineering marvel that is the Linn Cove Viaduct).
There are a few charming Blue Ridge Mountain towns along the way (including the Alpine-influenced Little Switzerland).
But, for my money, the Boone/Banner Elk/Blowing Rock triangle offers the best base for exploring the region.
We’ve stayed in a lot of great hotels and cabins in the area, but none offered as many excellent amenities and activities as the Chetola Resort & Spa.
Tucked away on a 78-acre tract of land in the heart of Blowing Rock, this relaxing retreat made us feel like we were a world away from the bustling downtown area, even though it was just around the corner!
Read on for our in-depth guide to visiting Chetola Resort, including an overview of all the accommodations, amenities, and activities this historic Blowing Rock attraction has to offer.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Blowing Rock NC
Chetola Resort, Lodge & Spa Info
ADDRESS: 185 Chetola Lake Rd, Blowing Rock NC, 28605
OFFICE HOURS: Open 24 hours a day
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://chetola.com
DIRECTIONS FROM ASHEVILLE NC
From downtown Asheville, head east on I-40 and go 18.9 miles to exit 72, US-70 toward Old Fort. Follow US-70 east for 11 miles, then use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto US-221 N.
Follow that for 20.9 miles, then turn right onto NC-183 S in Linville Falls. In 3.6 miles, turn left onto Parkway Rd, then turn right onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Follow the Parkway for 20.9 miles, then turn right onto the Blue Ridge Pkwy Access Road. Turn left onto US-221 N, and you’ll see Chetola Lake Drive on the left in two miles.
DIRECTIONS FROM BOONE NC
From downtown Boone, take Hardin St to US-321 S/Blowing Rock Rd. Follow that for 7 miles, then turn right onto Main Street in Blowing Rock. Go 0.3 miles and you’ll see Chetola Lake Drive on the left.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Boone NC
CHETOLA RESORT ACCOMMODATIONS
Spanning 78 acres, Chetola Resort’s array of accommodation options makes it one of the most popular places to stay in Blowing Rock NC.
It has a small (but historic) inn to rival the best Blowing Rock hotels, the recently renovated Chetola lodge, plus hundreds of condominiums that are available for Chetola rentals or ownership.
The Bob Timberlake Inn
Dating back to the mid-1800s, Chetola’s Manor House Estate was one of the oldest resorts in the mountains of North Carolina.
Originally known as Silverlake, it was expanded considerably over the course of a century.
It became the Bob Timberlake Inn at Chetola Resort in 2004, with 8 luxurious rooms featuring designs and decor from Bob Timberlake, one of the most successful North Carolina artists.
Rich with Appalachian history and photographs of the Blowing Rock area, all of the rooms are named for Chetola owners and other icons of the NC High Country, such as Ben Church, Hugh Morton, and Moses H. Cone.
Chetola Resort Lodge
If you’re looking for a more traditional Blowing Rock hotel experience, the Chetola Lodge features 42 guest rooms spanning three floors. Each floor is different, but all of them reflect the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
All of the rooms have been renovated in the last few years, with the design team including a mixture of upscale lodge decor and more rustic elements that evoke the spirit of campgrounds in the North Carolina mountains.
From large, barn wood-framed photographs of local wildlife to bold blankets and pillowcases inspired by traditional Native American designs, the Lodge at Chetola Resort is one of the most stylish hotels in Blowing Rock.
Chetola Resort Condominiums
With some 50 buildings dedicated to condos or timeshares, there are a staggering array of options for Chetola rentals.
One section of buildings is named after iconic Blue Ridge Mountains, one is named after native species of North Carolina birds, and another is named after native trees.
Our Chetola Resort condo was in the Finch building, which is located in the very back of the sprawling complex and afforded us lots of privacy and excellent views of a small forest.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Treehouse Rentals in the North Carolina Mountains
The History of Chetola Resort & Spa
Arguably the oldest resort in Blowing Rock, Chetola’s roots date back to 1846, when Lot Estes purchased 100 acres of land in the NC High Country, about 8 miles south of what would become Boone NC.
Estes gradually expanded his family home, turning it into a summer resort known as Silverlake. When William Stringfellow purchased the estate in 1892, he changed the name to Chetola and expanded it even further.
But it was J. Luther Snyder, “the Coca-Cola King of the Carolinas,” who transformed Chetola into an iconic Blowing Rock landmark after he moved north from Atlanta and bought the estate in 1926.
The Snyder family’s lavish parties became the stuff of Western NC legend, and the property remained in the possession of his heirs until 1972.
The early ’80s was when Chetola transformed from a posh manor to a major Blowing Rock attraction. The business-minded owners constructed an elegant 42-room lodge, luxury condos, and meeting facilities that could accommodate 150 people.
The business grew even further after being bought in 1997 by Virginia native Rachael Renar and her son, Kent Tarbutton.
They were the ones who turned the historic Manor House into the Bob Timberlake Inn, made Chetola an Orvis-endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge, and opened the Chetola Spa in 2009.
After a fire destroyed the Manor House Restaurant in 2011, it was redesigned and reopened as Timberlake’s Restaurant, one of the most critically-acclaimed restaurants in Blowing Rock.
Offering outdoor dining by Chetola Lake, the restaurant’s menu was inspired by Bob Timberlake’s favorite dishes and is decorated with his paintings and antique fishing gear.
After Renar’s other son Greg moved to North Carolina, the family purchased 67 acres of land and created the Chetola Sporting Reserve.
Opened in 2016, it includes a clubhouse, pub, clay shooting course, shooting and archery ranges, 27 miles of ATV and hiking trails, and catch-and-release fly fishing adventures.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Lakes in the North Carolina Mountains to Visit
OUR CONDO AT CHETOLA RESORT
Easily the largest resort in Blowing Rock NC, Chetola offers countless condominium options that range in size from one to four bedrooms.
Our 1-bedroom rental was on the bottom level of the Finch building, which is located in the back of the Chetola Resort complex.
It offered an impressive amount of space (approximately 885 square feet), and included a full kitchen with granite counters and all the appliances you could possibly need (fridge, stove, dishwasher, microwave, coffee maker, etc).
The living room/dining area had ample seating for 4 people and included a queen size sleeper sofa, flat screen TV, gas log fireplace, and a dining table and chairs.
We spent a lot of time on the outdoor patio, which offered lovely views of the sun setting over Moses H. Cone Memorial Park (which is immediately adjacent to the Blowing Rock resort’s property).
The spacious bedroom featured a comfy queen sized bed, flat screen TV, seating area, and a large bathroom with a wonderful shower and a washer/dryer combo. It also had a door for directly accessing the patio.
We truly loved the condo’s decor, which really evoked the feeling of the best mountain cabins we’ve stayed in.
The wood floors and tables, stone fireplace, carved wooden bears on the bed and lamps, and bison wall art reflected the natural beauty that surrounds the property, and which defines the NC High Country as a whole.
READ MORE: The 15 Best VRBO Cabins in Asheville NC
CHETOLA RESORT AMENITIES
There’s no shortage of fun things to do in the Blowing Rock area, including numerous great parks, hiking trails, restaurants, waterfalls, and family-friendly tourist attractions.
But you can also have a blast without leaving the property, thanks in large part to the Chetola Resort restaurant, Timberlake’s, which ranks among the very best restaurants we’ve visited in the NC High Country.
Chef Matt Rivers’ breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus feature meats and veggies largely sourced from local NC farms, such as Fossil Farms Elk Short Loin and Pumpkin Seed-crusted NC Trout.
Chetola Lake offers myriad water-based activities, with kayaks and pedal boats available for guests.
Their Highlands Sports & Recreation Center also features a heated indoor pool, gym, and fitness classes such as Pilates and Cardiosculpt.
There are weekly movie nights and game nights in the center’s Camp Room, tennis and pickleball courts, and bonfires with S’mores by the lake every weekend.
You can also explore the myriad hiking trails on the property and in the adjoining 3,600-acre Moses Cone Memorial Park, or try your hand at archery, clay shooting, or fly fishing at the Chetola Sporting Reserve.
But our favorite amenity was the Chetola Spa, which offers a wide variety of services including massage therapies, facials, nail treatments, cosmetic applications, and a hair salon.
We enjoyed a blissful couples massage in the middle of a busy two-week Blue Ridge Parkway road trip, which proved perfect for relaxation, rejuvenation, and reconnection.
READ MORE: Festive Fun at Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock NC
The Blowing Rock
The oldest tourist attraction in North Carolina, The Blowing Rock is a unique geological formation that was named for the area’s famously whipping winds.
Located 3,000 feet above an expansive gorge, the iconic outcropping offers spectacular scenic vistas that include the summits of Mount Mitchell and Grandfather, Hawksbill, and Table Rock Mountains.
There’s lots of things to do at The Blowing Rock, including stunning overlooks, a man-made waterfall, two picturesque hiking trails, a lovely picnic area, and a gallery of historical Blowing Rock photos.
There’s also a 3000-square-foot gift shop, plus a Gorge View Annex building that features a snack bar and locally crafted goods, and can be rented out for private events.
READ MORE: Things to Do at the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area (Near Linville Falls NC)
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway passes two miles north of Chetola, so it’s a perfect base for exploring some of our favorite overlooks, hiking trails, and parks located along the 469-mile scenic route.
Awesome Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks in the area include the Ravens Rocks Overlook (MP 289.5), the Yadkin Valley Overlook (MP 289.8), the Thunder Hill Overlook (MP 290.4), and the Sims Pond Overlook (MP 295.9).
Popular Blue Ridge Parkway hikes nearby include the Bass Lake Trail at Moses H Cone Memorial Park (MP 294), the Green Knob Trail to a lookout tower (MP 350.4), and the Price Lake Loop Trail at Julian Price Memorial Park (MP 297).
There are also several great Blue Ridge Parkway waterfalls nearby, including the Glen Burney Trail (which features 3 waterfalls), the 5.3-mile Boone Fork Trail at Price Park, and The Cascades in Boone (MP 272).
READ MORE: The 10 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hotels & Cabin Rentals in NC
At 5,946 feet, Grandfather Mountain is the tallest mountain on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains range.
It’s home to Grandfather Mountain State Park, which encompasses 2,456 acres of backcountry wilderness and 12 miles of trails.
There’s also a privately-owned, non-profit Grandfather Mountain attraction that requires an entry fee.
The prices range from $9 for kids ages 4-12 to $20 for seniors and $22 for adults, and proceeds help to support local conservation initiatives.
In return, you can access additional hiking trails, visit the Nature Museum and Wildlife Habitats (including native species such as Black Bears, Cougars, and Elk), and soak in stunning scenic views via the 228-foot-long Mile High Swinging Bridge.
READ MORE: Things to Do at Grandfather Mountain State Park in Banner Elk NC
Appalachian Ski Mtn.
Chetola Resort is located 8 miles south of Boone. The plethora of Christmas tree farms and ski resorts in the NC High Country make it a popular place to visit during Christmas and throughout the winter.
Although many of North Carolina’s best snow skiing and snow tubing resorts are located closer to Banner Elk, Appalachian Ski Mtn is just 4 miles from Blowing Rock.
The mountain offers 11 ski trails (2 beginner, 6 intermediate, 3 advanced trails) and 3 terrain parks, which can be accessed via two quad chairs, a double chair, a handle tow, and a conveyor lift.
The entire ski area is illuminated for nighttime skiing and is 100% covered by snowmaking, with one of the terrain parks getting completely rebuilt every week. –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted; lead image courtesy of Chetola Resort