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Tapoco Lodge Review (Rustic Elegance in Robbinsville, NC)

The Historic Tapoco Lodge in Robbinsville, North Carolina is a elegant rustic retreat that feels like a National Park lodge.

Located on the Cheoah River, the 120-acre resort offers lodging, cabin rentals, great dining and fun outdoor activities to enjoy in the western NC mountains close to the Tennessee border.

We stayed two nights at the Tapoco Lodge as guests of the property and were surprised at how much we love this area! Here is our Tapoco Lodge review from our stay.

Tapoco Lodge History

The Tapoco Lodge was built in 1930 as a boarding house for the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) that was a part of the hydroelectric efforts in Graham and Swain counties.

The lodge was used for decades as an exclusive resort for ALCOA executives as well as the personal getaway for Andrew Mellon, the President of ALCOA. Mellon is most well known for being the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and as part of Carnegie Mellon University and Mellon Banks.

The name Tapoco comes from the first two letters of the Tallassee Power Company, whose capital stock was purchased by ALCOA by the time construction of the Cheoah Dam began in 1916.

The property eventually ceased used as the personal retreat for executives and fell into disrepair until it was bough by a local family and renovated back to a public lodge in 1995. The Tapoco Lodge has since had other owners who continue the tradition of luxury lodging in the North Carolina mountains.

Tapoco Lodge Tavern

Even if you don’t stay in the historic lodge, you are definitely welcome to stop by the resort and enjoy a meal in the Tapoco Tavern!

Lunch and dinner are served in the Tapoco Tavern which has plenty of outdoor dining right on the Cheoah River. There is open air dining on the patio overlooking the river with large umbrellas for shade. There is also outdoor covered dining as well as an indoor dining room.

The bar at Tapoco Tavern is large and a destination for many motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts after a day of driving the Tail of the Dragon or one of the many scenic byways in the area.


Some helpful tips for enjoying a meal at Tapoco Tavern:

  • Cheoah River Release dates, when the river is flooded to mimic nature, are some of the most popular times to dine at the tavern because outdoor adventure seekers can be seen paddling down the rapids. Check the current release date schedule before your visit. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended on these days!
  • Weekends are among the busiest times and the parking lot can get full on the weekends.
  • Free parking for any guest to the lodge.

Trout is popular here and can be found in the tacos, fajitas, pizza and trout nuggets.

Trout Nuggets
Deep South Burger with Hashbrown Casserole
French Fries
Carrot Cake

There are several fire pit tables at the tavern overlooking the river.

While breakfast is available in the Cheoah Dining Room, it is not included in your overnight stay and is a separate charge. Breakfast is not served river-side.

The Laurel Lounge is located inside the main lodge and is open Friday and Saturday nights.

Tapoco Lodge Rooms

The main lodge has standard lodge rooms and suites. There are also cabins available.


There are three suites available in Tapoco Lodge. Evergreen is located on the first floor and is an accessible room. The other two suites are located on the third floor. There is no elevator at the hotel.

We stayed in Evergreen, which sleeps up to 4 people. We were really happy with the spaciousness of the room and the bedroom had a river view.

The big downside was that the room is right next to the ice machine, public bathrooms and staircase. You WILL hear the ice machine being used whenever a guest gets ice, whether it is 7:15 a.m. or 10:30 p.m.

We also heard the bathrooms being cleaned early every morning, so if you are someone that likes to sleep in, then this might not be the location for you.

Another item to consider is that this is a historic lodge with creaking floors. The lower level rooms will hear guests in the upper level rooms walking around. And in the Evergreen room, we heard every guest coming down the staircase because of the creaking. This is part of the charm of staying in a historic inn that is almost 100 years old!

See our entire room tour in our YouTube video:

Lodge Rooms

There are 6 lodge rooms that each sleep 2 guests. These are all located on the second floor. There is no elevator.

Tapoco Lodge Cabins

There are 18 cabins available to rent behind the main lodge that will give you more room and can accommodate more guests. These cabins do have private parking areas dedicated to each cabin so you can drive to the cabin and easily unload your luggage.

Many of the cabins are duplexes, with two cabins sharing an adjacent wall between them.

Wifi and Cellular Service

This area of North Carolina has very little cell service, and usually you don’t have any service! It is wise to download maps and have directions planned out before getting close to Robbinsville.

Once at the Tapoco Lodge, you won’t have any cell service (we have Verizon and had no bars of coverage) but there is free Wifi at the lodge. We found the Wifi network to be strong and fast and were not frustrated at all with trying to get online and check emails. We did not try streaming movies, however.


There are a variety of free activities to enjoy at Tapoco Lodge whether you are an overnight guest or a visitor for the day. The lodge has a recreation director and activities include:

  • Waterfall hike
  • Miles of trails
  • Guided hikes
  • S’mores at night
  • Campfires in the fire pits
  • Axe throwing
  • Movie nights
  • Yoga (Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Pickle Ball
  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Hammocks
  • Board Games and Cards
  • Books
  • Bird Watching (the lodge is a Cornell Lab partner)

A spa is available Friday through Sunday. Prices start at $180 for a 50-minute massage.

Local attractions include:

  • Fontana Dam
  • Filming locations for several NC movies, including The Fugitive and A Walk in the Woods
  • Fontana Village
  • Tail of the Dragon drive
  • Yellow Creek Waterfall
  • Wehrloom Honey and Meadery

See our Ultimate Guide to Robbinsville, NC for details on attractions and restaurants in the area.