Our tenth anniversary glamping trip at Gold River

13 June 2022

Are we getting soft in our old age? Perhaps. But for year ten of camping with our friends – ten years of wide-open wonder and crisp air and melty s’mores and fireside chats, but also packing and hauling and uncomfortable backs – we opted to celebrate in style, with a glamping weekend at Gold River Camp at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Marion, NC. It was a delight. And you’re darn right we had matching tees. I’d love to share a few photos, if you’d like to see!

We arrived to Gold River around 5pm on our early June weekend. It’s a small, private campground that’s only about a year old; they offer cabins, RV sites, yurts, platform tents, and traditional campsites. Booking is all through Airbnb. The owners are onsite, but interaction is minimal (we unlocked our cabins with a code). We stayed in the Bower and the Cottage, which are connecting “cabins” – ours was one open room with a bed, a futon, and a bathroom with a shower; the Ray’s side had a living room area with a futon, a separate bedroom, a bathroom with a tub/shower, and the teeny kitchen. I put cabins in quotes because they’re really more like tiny houses – not a log in sight :)

The beautiful thing about not having to set up camp the way we usually do? We could start exploring right away! And there’s lots to explore at Gold River. The kids made a beeline for the creek, and though that was definitely a highlight of our stay, there were also Eno hammocks, Adirondack chairs, fire pits, and tables and chairs dotted around the property for anyone to use. (Less glamorous but maybe more important: trashcans were also always nearby – and were emptied multiple times throughout each day – which was convenient and appreciated.)

For dinner on Friday, we threw together spaghetti, sauce, and meatballs, frozen garlic bread, and cut veggies and dip (prepped at home to keep things easy!). We toted our plates down to the pavilion, a covered, open-air common space in the center of the camp. There were tables and stools to perch on, and best of all it was just feet from the babbling creek. After admiring fireflies from our front porch and getting kids settled in beds, the adults claimed a fire pit to close out the night.

Saturday morning dawned absolutely gorgeous – warm, sunny, clear. We had a quick breakfast of eggs, sausage, and fruit before packing up and heading to Toms Creek Falls. This hike was almost too easy for our taste – it’s a pretty much flat out and back that took about 20 minutes each way – but hiking in quickly meant we could spend plenty of time enjoying the waterfall at the end. And the waterfall would have been worth a much longer hike! We had great sight-lines to its dramatic plunge. The kids clambered over rocks all the way up to the pool at the base and there were sunny spots to enjoy snacks on, too. I just put my feet in but the water was coooooooold.

From there, we had lunch at Hillman Beer in Old Fort before heading back to Gold River. What a cool spot! Retrofitted from an old factory, it’s a cavernous, open-air space nestled right next to a creek (lots of creeks on this trip!). The food was delicious and it was neat to see all the brewing equipment through big glass walls.

Back at camp, a few of the littles napped while the rest of us spent the afternoon at the creek. (As a reminder, on this trip our kids were 7, 6, 4, 3 x 2, and almost 1 x 2.) The water was about a foot deep at its deepest, so it was easy for the kids to enjoy floating downstream, digging in the sandy bank, and splashing in the shallows. The adults supervised from camp chairs in the water, and this is possibly the most treasured part of camping weekends for me: sitting and doing nothing besides enjoying the surroundings and the company, with not even phantom tasks or the pull of household chores or a laptop to distract. It’s an opportunity to slow time way, way down, and it is good for the soul.

Dinner that night was the traditional hot dogs over the fire, with chips, veggies, and baked beans on the side, plus another round of s’mores for good measure. Bedtime is always easier on the second night: the initial buzz of excitement has burned off, and everyone’s exhausted from being outside all day :)

Sunday was another gorgeous morning, and we carted our pancakes and bacon down to the pavilion to eat by the river, pajamas and all. I think the kids spent the next three hours before checkout entirely in the Eno hammocks, ha. Most of them fell out multiple times, but good times were had by all.

Gold River will certainly go down in history as one of our favorite camping memories – the kids proclaimed it to be “the most fun ever” many times over throughout the weekend. If you’re nervous about camping but itching to give your family an outdoors experience, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Though we’re planning to return to our more rustic roots in 2023, I’m sure we’ll be back to Gold River at some point in the future!

Any questions about camping, in North Carolina or with kids? I’m always happy to help!

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June 13, 2022 2:09 pm

Okay, this has me convinced!! Looks so beautiful and fun, not to mention, complete with all my required amenities ;) Dave thanks you in advance!

June 14, 2022 2:57 pm

So fun! Glad y’all have been able to do this for 10 years !!

September 7, 2022 9:07 pm

Hi Emily! I just booked an October trip to Gold River for my family (husband and 2 year old daughter) and we are so excited! I remembered reading this post back in June and as we were pondering a short trip to the mountains (we’re coming from Columbia, SC), I thought – let me go check back in on that campsite that Emily mentioned. We are so looking forward to going and can’t wait to experience this part of NC, too! It looks like a lovely camp ground and we’ll be staying in the Cottage – we haven’t camped…well, really ever. So the Cottage is the perfect start for us ;)
Just wanted to thank you for sharing this and in such detail, aiding us in making a decision to visit here!