Gorgeous Lake Junaluska has been a mountain retreat for the Methodist church since the early 1900s. Many do not realize that this lake "resort" is open for all to enjoy with plenty of things to do and places to stay. It's at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains near Waynesville and Maggie Valley, about 30 minutes west of Asheville. Spend the night lakeside, explore a dozen gardens, walk around the lake, play golf or take a boat tour (to name a few!).
Since the retreat's mission is to "renew the soul, mind and body," it's a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in a very scenic setting. Their conference center is centered around a 200-acre lake and serves the entire Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church and is home to the World Methodist Council. The surrounding town is also home to 2,700 people.
Lake Junaluska Things To Do
Lake Walking Trail and Rose Walk: A scenic 3.8-mile paved path winds around the lake with resting points to relax and soak in the views. Cross the lake on the Turbeville Footbridge for a shorter 2.3-mile loop. It's wheelchair and scooter friendly, and most sections are flat. Find plenty of parking at many locations adjacent to the trail. Read more about the Walking Trail.
Kayak, Canoe & Paddleboard: Have fun on the lake from Memorial Day through Labor Day with rentals available every day.
Boat Tour: Take an excursion on The Cherokee at 8 PM every day during the summer. Cost is just $5 per person! Tickets are available at the Junaluska Gift & Grounds in the Harrell Center.
Bird Watching: A favorite location for birding, with the best views near the pool, the parking lot near Memorial Chapel, the cross at Inspiration Point, across the dam on Lakeshore Drive and the boat ramp. Pick up a checklist at the Welcome Center.
Corneille Bryan Native Garden: Find more 500 species of native plants and is a haven for birdlife.
Fish: The lake is stocked with bass, catfish, crappie and others. You'll just need to have a valid North Carolina fishing license. No motor boats on the lake.
Golf: The 18-hole course offers affordable rates, spectacular views of the mountains and the lake, a layout designed for all levels, advanced tee times and PGA instruction.
Mini Golf, Tennis and Shuffleboard: Play for free! Just leave an equipment deposit at the Soda Shop.
Inspiration Point: Adjacent to the historic Lambuth Inn, enjoy the spectacular lake, mountain and sky views. The Point features gardens with more than 30 different species of plants. (Photo at top of page.)
Labyrinth: Enter and walk this sacred path at your leisure, alone or with others.
Lodging: Lake Junaluska has a wide array of places to stay, including lakeside The Terrace hotel, with lakeside rockers. Go to their Web site for more.
Charming and historic, Lambuth Inn sits on a hill overlooking Lake Junaluska with panoramic views of the mountains and lake. The recent renovation recaptured the original elegance of this stately inn, which was built in 1921 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rates are $95-$200/night. Go to their Web site for more.
Also find vacation rentals and economy rooms. Lodging is open to the public all year.
Restaurants: Dining options include buffet-style dining year-round at The Terrace hotel and Lambuth Inn. The Junaluska Gifts & Grounds, located in the Harrell Center, offers specialty coffee, hand-dipped ice cream, smoothies and snacks. During the summer, cool down at the Lake Junaluska Soda Shop for snacks and drinks.
Camping: Find RV and tent sites, apartments and a meeting lodge with full hookups, pet-friendly campsites, picnic tables and fire rings. Open April-October.
Weddings & Reunions: The Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center is the perfect location for weddings of all sizes, family reunions and friends' gatherings. Their lakeside conference facilities include a nice variety of venues for all size of events. And with plenty of dining and lodging options, your entire group can stay and play together without driving to multiple locations.
Lake Junaluska Singers: This 16-voice professional ensemble that has performed nationally and internationally for conferences, dignitaries and major events. Their music ranges from classical choral and contemporary works to gospel, folk and musical theatre styles. Plan a visit during one of their concerts.
April 1, 2018: Easter
Sunrise service at 7 AM at the amphitheater near the Lake Junaluska Cross. Park at Lambuth Inn, 55 Lambuth Drive, Lake Junaluska.
July 2-4, 2018: Independence Day Celebration
Celebrate all weekend with concerts, special meals, fireworks and more. Highlights on the 4th include the parade at 11 AM, picnic 12-2 PM and fireworks at 9:30 PM. 3 night overnight packages include lodging, breakfasts, one dinner, cookout, concerts and more. Go to their website for details.
November 22-24, 2018: Thanksgiving Weekend
Enjoy an exquisite Thanksgiving feast in the mountains. Choose and cut your own Christmas tree at a nearby farm to take home with you. Includes Biltmore tickets.
December 6-9, 2018: Appalachian Christmas
Special weekend with festive live music, hearty meals and local artistry. Includes tickets to Christmas at Biltmore House. Lake events include Handel’s Messiah, the Appalachian Christmas Craft Show and a concert. 2-night package includes breakfast and dinner.
History: Tour two museums! Lake Junaluska was founded in 1913 to provide space for fellowship, worship and recreation along the shores of a tranquil mountain lake. The name comes from Junaluska Mountain, which was named after a Cherokee Indian Chief who saved Andrew Jackson’s life during a battle. The Southeastern Jurisdiction Heritage Center and Museum features exhibits depicting the history of Lake Junaluska, as well as the history of the Methodist Church. The World Methodist Museum houses the largest collection of Methodist history, artifacts and memorabilia in the world.
Directions: Coming from Asheville, about 25 miles:
- From I-40 West, take exit 27 onto US 19-23.
- Drive 3 miles and take exit 103.
- Drive about 1 mile until you see Lake Junaluska gates on the right.
- Bear right and follow the main road to the Bethea Welcome Center. Stop there to get a map and best places to visit on that day.
Places to Stay & Things to Do
Rate: Starts at $627/couple
Take a Video Tour of Lake Junaluska