The writer was hosted.
Yes, Bear Den Campground in Spruce Pine is an RV Park. But it’s also so much more! Part of Spacious Skies Campgrounds, a group of 15 campgrounds from Maine to Georgia in the eastern states, Bear Den is nestled high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
It has your campground basics — full-service RV hookups and tent camping sites. But it also has the accommodation I came to check out: a not-so-rustic cabin in the woods.
I stayed in the Mountain Villa Cabin. It had everything I needed for a relaxing stay.
The cabin had a living and kitchen area and a separate bedroom. There’s a good-sized counter to dine or work on and four bar stools. The walls are rustic knotty pine. I had a comfortable queen bed.
I loved the details. The quilted bedspread, pillowcases, and shower curtain all were decorated with a bear picture.
For families, there is a cute loft space with two mattresses for kids.
My AC/heat worked perfectly. November in the mountains is cool, but inside was just right.
There was a tub and shower in my bathroom for a long hot soak after hiking trails through the mountains. The fully equipped kitchen had a full-sized fridge, a real stove with oven, microwave, dishes, pots, pans, coffeemaker, and toaster.
The TV seemed to have a lot of stations and streaming channels.
The cabin had a picnic table and fire pit and a porch with table and chairs if I wanted to be outside. Golf cart rentals are available directly across from the well-stocked camp store. Even though the website warned me not to expect wifi service in the cabin, I had reception and could check email and websites.
There are more than 10 cabins here. They range from Mountain Creek Cabin, which sleeps eight people and includes pretty much everything you need, to the rustic Cozy Campin’ Cabins that sleep either 4 or 6 and include only beds, electricity, and most have heat/air conditioning. The campgrounds and some cabins are pet-friendly.
There are 13 miles of wooded hiking trails in Spacious Skies Bear Den. My cabin was just across from the bathhouse for Area B. As the only cabin in Area B, I could look off my porch and out my window at the beautiful forest that sloped down the mountainside behind my cabin.
I hiked down to Areas C and D, where the forest trails began. In Area C, I loved the rustic water tower. It looked like a remnant of pioneer days, but my cabin water was clear and fresh, so it must have still worked well.
Amenities in the Campground
There’s lots to do on-site. The lake is open in summer for swimming and catch-and-release fishing. I took a hike along Bear Paw Trail to one of the mountains’ beautiful waterfalls.
On the road up to my cabin, as I drove around the lake, there was a volleyball court and a basketball court.
The camp store sold everything I needed and the staff was very friendly. Across from the camp store and office, I visited a rec hall and arcade. It was well-equipped with games and a full-sized pool table. The campground sells ice, propane refills, and firewood. There are laundry facilities at the bathhouses.
There is another game room, with ping-pong tables and inside picnic tables for a group. Just in front is a playground for little kids, and on the side there is a gem mining outfit.
If you are into it, this is a great camping experience. There are RV sites to accommodate motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, and tent camping spots. The campgrounds offers full-service sites with water, electricity, and sewer, some pull-through and some back-in. There are some wooded sites.
Check-in is 3 pm and check-out time differs for RVers and cabin occupants. Cabin checkout is at 10 am and RVs and tents at 11 am.
Things to Do Near Spacious Skies Campground Bear Den
State Parks to Explore
Mount Mitchell State Park lies to the Southwest, about 30 miles northeast of Asheville. The first North Carolina state park, Mount Mitchell has an observation deck that provides breathtaking mountain views since you are at an elevation of 6,684 feet, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. There are eight hiking trails of varying difficulty.
Lake James State Park to the Southeast has a seasonal swimming area and boat rentals. Trails in the park include bike trails at Paddy’s Creek, the kid-friendly Holly Discovery Trail, the historic Overmountain Victory Trail, and the Fonta Flora State Trail. Both state parks have seasonal primitive tent camping.
Pisgah National Forest is less than a half-hour drive from Bear Den. It’s 500,000 acres of hardwood forest with whitewater rivers, waterfalls, and hundreds of miles of trails.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
It’s just about an hour and a half to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the most visited national park in the country. The park is 522,427 acres, divided almost evenly between North Carolina and Tennessee.
Cades Cove in the Tennessee section is its most popular attraction, but the entire park is filled with breathtaking mountain scenery and lots of wildlife.
Your chances of seeing a black bear anywhere in the Smoky Mountains are good. Do not approach too closely and never get between a mother bear and her cubs. You will probably see deer along the parkway as well.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Driving along Blue Ridge Parkway near Bear Den, it’s beautiful country and there are many overlooks to stop and admire the mountain scenery.
From Heffner Gap Overlook I could see Linville Mountain, Honeycutt Mountain, and the flat-topped mountain Table Rock.
There is a sign that explains how researchers determined where the pioneers built their homes by finding old apple trees still growing. Heffner Gap is named for Amanda Heffner, a widow named who lived in the gap with her children during the Civil War.
From View North Cove Overlook at the base of Linville Mountain in Pepper Creek Valley, you see Honeycutt Ridge and a few buildings in front of Linville Mountain.
You are only about 20 miles north of 300-million-year-old Grandfather Mountain, one of North Carolina’s most popular locations. It’s south of downtown Boone and is a World Heritage Site. Visit Wilson Center for Nature Discovery about halfway up the mountain to get a feel for the history, ecology, and wildlife of the mountain. You can cross a mile-high suspension bridge at the summit.
Bear Den is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 324.8, on 600 Bear Den Mountain Road.
There’s a warning on the website to not take Pepper’s Creek Road (Rt. 1566) I was coming from Florida, so I took Hwy 221 near the little town of Marion, then my Google map did take me on 1556 to Blue Ridge Parkway to Bear Den Mountain Road.
The road gets steep and curvy after you get off the 221, so you may want to put your car in a lower gear to save hitting your brakes as you go around steep curves. If you are pulling a travel trailer, I agree, it’s not the best route to take.