History of Camp Yonahlossee
W ith little money, some experience, and great enthusiasm, Dr. and Mrs. A.P. Kephart set out to build Camp Yonahlossee. They bought land, put up only the most necessary of buildings, constructed a wooden dam to create the lake, and enrolled 25 girls for their first season. The year was 1922. A time when camping like this was very new to the south; a time when "running water" and bathtubs were such a novelty that the mountain people came to ask for a drink just to see water running from a faucet. "Tweetsie" was a real working train going from Boone to Johnson City, 60 miles through rugged mountain terrain. Life was simple, without TV and radios, and storytelling was an art.
C amp Yonahlossee (Cherokee for "Trail of the Bear") provided a great array of outdoor and camp activities including swimming, horseback riding, hiking, making Indian contrivances, pottery and weaving. The camp maintained its own farm producing fresh milk, eggs, butter and meats. The building that is home to today's Gamekeeper Restaurant was constructed in the 1920's. After significant renovations in the late 1950's it became the Kepharts' home. The original horse barn, corral, fire circles and weaving cabin are still a part of Yonahlossee today, lending the resort a touch of history.
fter nearly 60 years of success, Camp Yonahlossee was sold to developer John Rice who wanted to create a beautiful tennis resort while retaining the natural beauty of the land. Indigenous foliage (flame azalea, mountain laurel and rhododendron) were replanted, restoring the land to it's natural state. Designed by Bob Lake, the original Tennis pro, the tennis facilities won a much acclaimed award from
Tennis Industry Magazine
for "Court of the Year." Several other acclamations were awarded to the resort from the local Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Real Estate Development. Native North Carolinian Bryan Dirk is the residing Tennis Pro and is continuing the tradition of leading tennis players of all ages into their 'personal best".
S ince its development, Yonahlossee Resort has become a haven for those who crave the solitude and natural beauty of the North Carolina mountains in all it's wondrous seasons. Springtime in the Blue Ridge boasts the blooming of the rhododendron and the awakening of wildflowers. Summer, with its mild temperatures, brings the thrill of outdoor activities such as white water rafting and mountain climbing. Fall foliage attracts many to the Appalachian Mountains where brilliant colors are displayed vividly along nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. Winter's snowfall brings both downhill and cross country skiers to the area. The holiday season ushers in many winter activities including the lighting of the towns and Winterfest.
Y onahlossee continues to grow today and will always remain a place for solitude, natural beauty and pleasure -- as it was in its origins . Come for a vacation, stay for a lifetime!