Experience the beauty and wonder of Creation in one of the most awe-inspiring areas of the country: the Great Smoky Mountains. If you’re planning a church group retreat, the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area is an ideal location. The quiet peace of the mountains offers a respite from the noisy world, allowing members to focus on their relationships with each other and with God. As writer Elizabeth Aston noted:
Mountains inspire awe in any human person who has a soul. They remind us of our frailty, our unimportance, of the briefness of our span upon this earth. They touch the heavens, and sail serenely at an altitude beyond even the imaginings of a mere mortal.
Here’s why Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are terrific church retreat locations:
- Family-friendly attractions & dining options: Besides the obvious opportunities for nature walks, birdwatching, and other adventures in the national park, the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area offers entertainment and activities for the entire family. Music, theater, arts & crafts, shopping, and cultural activities abound. Most activities are affordable – or even free! – and offer group rates.
- Year-round recreational opportunities: Whether your group is looking for indoor or outdoor activities, the Gatlinburg area offers options during all four seasons. From Ober Gatlinburg, the only ski resort in Tennessee in the winter to the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage to whitewater rafting in the summer, there’s year-round fun.
- Large group cabins keep everyone close – but not too close! A large group cabin, also called a destination cabin, gives everyone enough room to be together – and the space to be alone in prayer or personal reflection. Most cabins come with well-equipped kitchens and enough eating space so that the group can prepare meals on-site and eat together. That helps control costs and build relationships between members. Destination cabins can be surprisingly affordable, particularly during the off-season.
For instance, Legacy Mansion, a 12 bedroom cabin offered by Cabins of the Smoky Mountains, sleeps up to 58 people, seats 24 people at a time at the dining room table, contains a game room, 12 full baths, 2 big screen TVs, and more. It also comes with free conference center access and rents for less than $700/night during the off-season. That’s less than $60/bedroom, far more affordable (and comfortable!) than even a budget hotel.
If your group is too big for a single cabin, or if that’s just too much togetherness, most rental agencies are happy to book you into a group of adjacent cabins. There are a number of resorts and rental agencies in Gatlingburg & Pigeon Forge who know the area and would be happy to work with you.
The beautiful Smoky Mountains provide the perfect backdrop for you and your friends to experience the joy that comes with fellowship combined with the Divine wonders of nature. Keep them in mind the next time your congregation looks for a retreat location.
Learn more about activities and lodging options in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.