Take a look at the glamping and tiny home experiences at Townsend’s Little Arrow Outdoor Resort

Knoxville News Sentinel

Little Arrow Outdoor Resort in Townsend could be the pandemic panacea we all need. The hidden retreat sits steps away from the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it perfect for pandemic-wary travelers this fall. 

The retreat has accommodations ranging from traditional to trendy, including glamping tents, tiny houses and RV sites. The site’s simple yet luxurious quarters feel rustic without the roughing it attitude of conventional camping. 

Little Arrow has landed on USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards for Best Glamping Resort. The Readers’ Choice Awards recognizes 20 nominees in a variety of travel categories each year, and voters choose the top 10. Little Arrow has climbed the rankings and overtook the No. 1 spot early this week. Voting is available at and is open until Oct. 12. Winners will be announced Oct. 23. 

Marketing director Cassie Simpher showed Knox News around the grounds to give readers a look at the glamping getaway that is expected to be a hot travel destination this fall. 


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A ‘camping community’

The smell of campfire and sounds of children playing is always in the air at Little Arrow. Simpher told Knox News the campsite community is one reason why the resort is unique.

Little Arrow’s Point & Feather Coffee Lounge is a 24/7 hub for visitors with access to wi-fi for remote work and school assignments. Fresh coffee flows to help keep guests focused, and interactive elements like movies, book exchanges and a playroom keep the little ones entertained. 

The resort also offers outdoor amenities to encourage guests to explore the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. A dog park, playground, shared fire pits and more are open for visitors to enjoy. Little Arrow recently added a quiet hiking trail that leads to an overlook of Townsend to its long list of outside activities.

“Everyone is so friendly here, and guests always make friends during their stay,” Simpher said. “It’s like it’s own camping community.”

Socially distanced stay 

Little Arrow’s popularity skyrocketed amid the pandemic. Simpher said she’s seen more guests from farther away within the past six months because many people feel unsafe flying and want to stay at socially distanced destinations. 

“We’ve been so much busier during COVID because people are realizing that camping is a great form of social distancing,” Simpher said. “We usually see a decline in August and September, but this year has been our best on record. It’s not slowing down at all either.” 

Guests can choose to stay at one of the 90 RV spots,15 tiny houses, eight glamping tents, two Airstream trailers or other vacation rentals at Little Arrow. Most guests check-in for weekend stays, but Simpher said more people are extending their visits because they can work and go to school remotely while at the resort. 

The glamping tents are the most in-demand rentals and put Little Arrow on the Best Glamping Resort list. Guests can choose from a luxury or primitive tent during their stay. The accommodations are similar, but luxury tents include a full bathroom and kitchen. People staying at primitive tents can use the nearby bathhouse with premium features.

Little Arrows tiny houses were designed by Clayton Homes and pack more elements than you may expect. Each house sleeps at least four people and includes a full bathroom and living space. The vintage Airstream trailers feature full bathrooms, kitchens and living spaces for small families or groups looking for a one-of-a-kind stay. Lines of RV neighborhoods line the front of the property and are perfect for visitors interested in a private yet communal long stay.

Simpher said Little Arrow is planning a major expansion this winter on the property’s more than 30 undeveloped acres. By spring 2021, Simpher hopes additional glamping tents will be built, the pool area will be improved and the clubhouse for large events will be renovated. 

Information about Little Arrow’s accommodations and reservations are available at 

Explore and escape

Townsend is known as the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies” because of its slow pace and proximity to the national park. The nickname is more relevant than ever during the pandemic, when many people are choosing to avoid crowds by entering the Smoky Mountains through Townsend rather than Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. 

Little Arrow provides a variety of experiences and events for visitors to help them fill their vacation time. The resort’s schedule includes Sunday services, local food trucks on the weekends, a chili cookoff, holiday celebrations and more. Also, guests can adventure in Townsend at the fall and winter festivals. 

Simpher knows most guests stay at Little Arrow to see the Smokies. The retreat is located right outside the entrance to the park and about a half-hour drive to Cades Cove. Hikers and bikers alike will enjoy the picturesque views of the park and the accessibility from Little Arrow.  

“We want to make you feel like you’re in the mountains,” Simpher said. “So the resort is really focused on providing a place for people to enjoy the beautiful area we’ve been given.”

Allie Clouse writes about entertainment, attractions and events in East Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @allie_clouse and email her at [email protected] Stay in the know by subscribing to Knox News.

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