The big swimming hole on the clear Cowpasture River may be the most picturesque natural pool in the East. Chin-deep and a stone's throw wide, it washes against a towering rock cliff on the far side.
Reason enough to go to Fort Lewis Lodge; terrific rates are a bonus.
Miles from anywhere, this retreat sits on a 3,200-acre farm abutting a national forest. Twelve rooms are in the main lodge, a rustic-looking but modern wood-frame structure ringed by a large sun deck. Three bedrooms-in-the-round occupy the silo, while the choicest accommodations are two spacious cabins, built with hand-hewn logs. Riverside House, a short drive away, offers five additional rooms in an even quieter setting.
Hearty meals--breakfast and dinner are included in the rate--are served buffet-style. A dinner bell rings at 7:30, but most guests show up earlier for happy hour beside the pond. The menu is all-American: barbecue ribs, corn on the cob, baked beans, and salad.
Bottom line: A quiet spot for people who enjoy the outdoors--hiking, biking, fishing--and a good deal.
Fort Lewis Lodge, 540-925-2314; fortlewislodge.com. Rates: $175 to $275 a night for two, with breakfast and dinner.