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Historic Tapoco Lodge (A Mountain Thrillseekers Retreat + 7 Things We Love!)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on March 18, 2024.

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Historic Tapoco Lodge is a mountain resort in Robbinsville, North Carolina. The lodge sits on 120 acres of land in Nantahala National Forest and is surrounded by stunning views of the Smoky Mountains. 

The unbeatable location is one of many things we love about Tapoco Lodge. Keep reading and you’ll see them all, including nearby attractions in Western North Carolina.

We can’t wait to return to this amazing property. In the meantime, this guide will serve as a reminder for us to come back very soon.

Read More: 30+ of the Best North Carolina Mountain Towns to Visit Now!

Wonderful Location

Address: 14981 Tapoco Rd, Robbinsville, NC 28771
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historic tapoco lodge nc

The first thing we mentioned about Historic Tapoco Lodge is its wonderful and unbeatable location. The property sits along the Cheoah River, close to the North Carolina-Tennessee border and north of downtown Robbinsville in Graham County, North Carolina.

Tapoco Lodge is also close to the famed Tail of the Dragon, one of America’s most iconic roads and one shared by Tennessee and North Carolina. Spoiler alert but there are plenty of other attractions nearby, yet another thing we love about Tapoco.

With our Western North Carolina Map, you can visually plan your stay at Tapoco Lodge and find nearby attractions.

Read More: The North Carolina Travel Map (with 1000+ Great Places Included!)

Tapoco Lodge’s Interesting History

Tapoco Lodge in the Spring

Historic Tapoco Lodge was built in the early 1930s by the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) to house workers building the nearby Cheoah Dam. Construction began in 1916 by the Tallassee Power Company.

In fact, “Tapoco” comes from the first two letters of the Tallassee Power Company (TaPoCo).

After the dam’s construction finished, the lodge served as a recreational retreat for ALCOA employees and their families. In the 1990s, the lodge was purchased by a private developer and renovated into a luxury resort. 

Tapoco Lodge drone view

The current owners purchased Tapoco Lodge in 2022 and have continued renovating and updating the historic property many have loved.

Read More: 125+ Important Facts About North Carolina You Should Know (History, Geography, and More!)

Varieties of Accommodations

Tapoco Lodge bedroom view

There are a variety of lodging options at Tapoco Lodge. Whether you want to stay in the main lodge or enjoy one of its quiet cabins, guests will find it uniquely decorated with a rustic mountain feel. 

  • Lodge Rooms: These are in the main lodge building and offer king-size or two double beds. The rooms feature mountain views, private bathrooms, and basic amenities such as a coffee maker and mini-fridge.
  • Creekside Cabins: These are one-bedroom cabins along the Cheoah River at Tapoco Lodge. They feature a king-size bed, a private bathroom, a living room, and a small kitchenette.
Tapoco Lodge cabin
  • Riverside Cottages: These are one- and two-bedroom cottages along the Cheoah River. They feature a main bedroom with a king-size bed, a second bedroom with two twin beds, a private bathroom, a living room, and a full kitchen.
  • Mountainview Cottage: This is a two-bedroom cottage on a hillside with views of the mountains. It features a king-size bed, a second bedroom with two twin beds, a private bathroom, a living room, and a full kitchen.
Tapoco Lodge bathroom

All accommodations at Tapoco Lodge include complimentary Wi-Fi and access to the lodge’s outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and whitewater rafting.

Note that cell service is very limited in this area of North Carolina. We suggest plugging in your destinations round trip before leaving Tapoco Lodge, as you may not have cell service.

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Read More: 4 National Forests in NC (Things to Do + Why We Love Them!)

Excellent Dining Options at Tapoco Lodge

Tapoco Tavern

Breakfast is served daily in the Cheoah Dining Room at Tapoco Lodge. Find delicious fresh-made options like biscuits and gravy and buttermilk waffles, and if you fancy a Bloody Mary, we can attest to how delicious the Dragon Slayer is!

After 11:00 am, the Tavern at Tapoco Lodge opens, serving some of the best mountain trout I’ve had! Get it breaded or grilled, and enjoy the beautiful riverside views while you dine and catch up with friends! 

Read More: 18 Unique Luxury Resorts in North Carolina

Cheoah River Dam Releases

Cheoah Dam

Tapoco Lodge is located along the Cheoah River, with several dam releases for whitewater sports enthusiasts throughout the year. The lodge sits at the bottom of a Class V rapid during a dam release, one of the most challenging whitewater classes.

According to the US Forest Service, the Cheoah typically flows at 250 cubic feet per second (cfs), but during a dam release, the water rises to approximately 1,000 cfs.

Dam releases of the Cheoah happen approximately 20 times per year by Brookfield Renewable Resources, Inc. to mimic natural flood events to benefit a variety of endangered and threatened species that live in the river ecosystem.

Tapoco Tavern has become a popular spot for people to sit along the river and watch paddlers battle the waves. It is recommended that reservations are made during dam release weekends for the patio if you are planning to enjoy a meal.

Note: Did you know that the Cheoah River Dam was used for filming in the blockbuster film The Fugitive?

Read More: Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City (10 Essential Things to Do)

Great Hiking Trails at Tapoco Lodge

Hiking trail at Tapoco Lodge

Tapoco Lodge sits on 120 acres of beautiful pristine forest. There are a number of hiking trails on the property that are accessible to both guests and the general public.

Stop into the lodge’s main lobby for a map, and the helpful staff can provide suggestions for trails.

Hiking map at Tapoco Lodge

During one visit in 2023, I chose to hike to Bear Water Falls along the Cheoah River. The trail was 1.5 miles round trip; even though I did it in the rain, it was beautiful and peaceful.

I do not recommend this trail for small children or inexperienced hikers as it can be narrow at spots.

Bear Creek Falls at Tapoco Lodge

Please wear proper footwear and come prepared, as there is no cell service once you leave the property.

Read More: 100+ of the Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Ready to Stay at Historic Tapoco Lodge NC?

Visitors to the Historic Tapoco Lodge will find the perfect Western North Carolina mountain retreat. Whether you want to paddle the Cheoah, swing the curves on the Tail of the Dragon, or rest along the river, Tapoco Lodge is an excellent place to call home for the weekend.

Have you ever stayed at Tapoco Lodge? What did you think of it?

We’d love to know about your experiences, which you can share in the comments section or by email. Don’t forget to share your adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

Before you do that, let’s go through one more thing that we love about Tapoco Lodge!

Awesome Nearby Attractions

Historic Tapoco Lodge is surrounded by some of the most adventurous places in Western North Carolina. Whether you are a hiker, paddler, or sport biker, there are plenty of fun things to do near Tapoco Lodge.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Yellow Creek Falls
  • The Tail of the Dragon
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
  • Fontana Dam
  • Lake Santeetlah

Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower NC

Tapoco Lodge is located near the southern entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which offers opportunities for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives.

Make sure to head up to Clingmans Dome for beautiful 360-degree views! Additional GSMNP attractions include the Deep Creek Trail and the Road to Nowhere.

Read More: 25+ Amazing Things to Do in Bryson City and Swain County (+ Our Top 5)

Yellow Creek Falls

Yellow Creek Falls

Yellow Creek Falls is a 50-foot cascade that can be reached from an easy 1-mile round-trip hike. It is located on the same road as Tapoco Lodge and is a wonderful hike.

This NC waterfall is a popular spot for swimming, although the water can be cold, especially in the spring and fall. 

Drive the Tail of the Dragon

If you are looking for a place to stay while driving the Tail of the Dragon, Tapoco Lodge is an excellent choice! This famous 11-mile stretch of road features 318 curves and is a popular destination for motorcycle enthusiasts.

It runs from US Route 129 in Deals Gap in North Carolina to Chilhowee Lake in Tennessee and is considered one of the most challenging and exciting drives in the United States.

Read More: 25+ Beautiful North Carolina Road Trips (Scenic Byways and Highways)

Go Whitewater Rafting

NOC view from above

Tapoco Lodge is located along the Cheoah River, a dam-controlled playground for whitewater paddlers. The Cheoah is a class IV+ (read: for experienced paddlers) and is considered a bucket list river for many kayakers. 

Fun fact: My Dad paddled the Cheoah in the 2000s and recalls a rapid called “Land of Holes,” a mile-long stretch without any eddies!

Nantahala Outdoor Center near Robbinsville offers novice paddlers whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities.

Explore Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

This 3,800-acre forest is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the eastern United States and has several hiking trails. A 2-mile trail loops around the giant old-growth trees.

There are more than 100 species of trees, many of which are over 400 years old. See if you can wrap your arms around the 20-foot circumference of some of them! 

Read More: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary (7 Things We Love About It!)

Visit Fontana Dam

Fontana Dam

Fontana Dam is a 480-foot-tall and the oldest in the eastern United States, and an excellent place to visit while staying at Tapoco Lodge.

It offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains and a unique opportunity to view it from both the top and bottom.

Also, did you know that Fontana Dam was used for filming the movie A Walk in the Woods?

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do In North Carolina (Your NC Bucket List)

Lake Santeetlah

Lake Santeetlah

Lake Santeetlah was created in 1928 when the Nantahala Power and Light Company built the Cheoah River Dam.

It is a popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing. Many fishermen and -women have been known to catch bass, crappie, and trout in these waters.

Read More: 25+ Great Lakes in North Carolina (+ Our Top 5 Picks)

More Things to Do Near Historic Tapoco Lodge NC

We’ve created many more travel guides that include these amazing attractions near Historic Tapoco Lodge. Here are a few of them.

Mingo Falls is one of the tallest and most beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina and the Southern Appalachians, worth the many steps you take to reach it!

The Graveyard Fields hike is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and an incredibly popular trek that’s within an hour of Asheville.

Skinny Dip Falls in Transylvania County might once have been a secret but it’s very popular now.

Soco Falls is a beautiful double waterfall near Cherokee and a few minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s so easy to miss, but not with this guide.

Black Balsam Knob is a popular section of the Art Loeb Trail in Western NC. It’s easily accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 420.

Deep Creek Trail inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best spots for hiking in North Carolina, taking you by three amazing waterfalls.

The Road to Nowhere is now a popular tourist destination near Bryson City. Of course, the history of this part of Western NC should not be forgotten.

Surrounded by the breathtaking Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is a quaint town with many attractions. These are the best things to do in Bryson City!

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