Why you should visit Asheville’s new ‘urban campground’

Photo contributed by Wrong Way River Lodge

If you're ready for a cozy cabin escape, Wrong Way River Lodge & Cabins in West Asheville, North Carolina, offer the outdoorsy charm you expect from a cabin in the mountains but without the seclusion.

Opened in September, the "urban cabin campground" is a new kind of lodging option that blends the outdoor access and nostalgia of a campground with the amenities of a hotel and the unique experiences of a short-term rental.

Located on the French Broad River Greenway, Wrong Way boasts 16 A-frame cabins designed in the "Scappalachian" style – combining Scandinavian minimalism with Appalachian craftsmanship – as well as a communal River Lodge.

Guests can gather around a nightly campfire or grab food and drinks at the "canteen" inside the River Lodge. But the provisions you'll find there are a huge step up from the canteen you remember from summer camp; the chef-driven food and beverage program is led by James Beard Award semifinalist Ashley Capps and partner Travis Schultz, both of Asheville-based Newstock Pantry.

Several parks and a rock climbing gym are within walking distance, and downtown Asheville and the pubs and shops of Haywood Road are also easily accessible.

Started by two former river guides, Wrong Way's name references the French Broad River, which flows north instead of south. According to local lore it's the world's third oldest river, following the Nile and the Ness -- all of which flow the "wrong way."

Each cabin sleeps up to four with a queen size bed, queen size sofa bed, full bathroom, private deck, mini-fridge, microwave, electric kettle, heat and air conditioning and high-speed internet. There's no TV, because you're there to have fun.

Choose from Wrong Way experiences like volunteering for a service project with a local nonprofit, paddling the river, hiking to a waterfall or taking a Jeep tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway or a tour of Asheville's rooftop bars.

Here are a few more suggestions of things to do in the area, along with some of the best local spots to eat and drink.

What to do:

Check out nearby Foundation Studios, where you can peruse the art in the 8,000-square-foot space in Asheville's River Arts District, and then grab a drink at Wedge Brewery to enjoy in the beer garden.

Visit the Biltmore Estate, where you can tour America's largest private home. The 250-room castle sits on 8,000 acres, where you can also experience a wine-tasting at the onsite winery. Behind-the-scenes tours are a fun way to see the estate from a different perspective if you've been in the past, and the candlelight tours held select nights during the holidays (Nov. 4, 2022 through Jan. 7, 2023) provide a festive experience with live Christmas music and rooms filled with ornate holiday decor.

Where to eat:

All Souls Pizza makes fantastic pies with creative flavors and also boasts a great dog-friendly patio area.

For breakfast, head to OWL Bakery for outstanding pastries like croissants and cardamom buns, or Tacobilly, which is known for its breakfast tacos.