Lake Junaluska NC

Lake Junaluska is a beautiful lake and community, located just outside of Waynesville NC and near Maggie Valley NC.  

The Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center has 200 acre lake that is surrounded by 1200 acres, full of things to do, see, and places to stay.  Lake Junaluska is also located right next to the Great Smoky Mountains, and only minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

How to Get There

Directions: From I-40 from either Asheville or Knoxville:

  • From I-40, take exit 27 onto US 19/23.
  • Drive 3 miles and take exit 103 towards Maggie Valley
  • Drive about 1 mile until you see Lake Junaluska on the right.
  • Turn right at the main entrance, and follow the road a short distance to the  Welcome Center, where you can get information, hours, and map to help you find your way around.

Things to See

Lake Junaluska is full of things to do and especially things to see.  The Lake is gorgeous, and full of wildlife, including fish, turtles, and plenty of birds.  

One of the star attractions is a Bald Eagle, that if you're lucky, you'll seeing her flying over and around the lake.

The Cross

One of the most noticeable things to see at Lake Junaluska, especially at night, is the Junaluska Cross.  This "beacon of light and hope" was built in 1922 by the Federation of Wesley Bible Classes of the Western North Carolina Conference.

The cross is 25 foot high, and contains 200 light bulbs, that illuminate the cross at night.

Directly below the cross is the Junaluska Ampitheater, which is common location for weddings, services, youth events, and for individuals seeking prayer or meditation.

If you're a photographer, this is photo opportunity you won't want to miss.

Inspiration Point

Just above the cross, and adjacent to the Lambuth Inn, is the most scenic view in Lake Junaluska, Inspiration Point.

Inspiration Point overlooks the Junaluska Cross, and the Lake itself.   It provides an unparalleled view of the cross, lake, nearby mountains, and sky.  "The point", as it's often called, is surrounded by beautiful gardens, maintained by volunteers.  The garden also has a beautiful, and welcoming sculpture of Christ, and a Memorial cross as well.

For photographers, this is another must visit spot.  For everyone else, it provides stunning views, and a great place to sit, relax, reflect, meditate or pray.

Memorial Chapel

The Memorial Chapel, at Lake Junaluska, is the lake's most photographed  building, and for good reasons.  The historic building is beautiful, lakeside, and surrounded by meticulous landscaping and gardens.

The chapel is popular for religious services, and the most popular location at Lake Junaluska for weddings.

The chapel is more than 50 years old, seats up to 200 people, and contains 25 beautiful stained glass windows.

The Methodist Museum

World Methodist Museum Exterior Photo

The World Methodist Council Museum is internationally known for having the single largest collection of Wesleyan movement artifacts.

The museum is open year-round to visitors and groups.  The museum is open: Tuesday-Saturday, from 9am - 4pm (closed from noon-1pm p.m. for lunch) and is located at 575 N. Lakeshore Dr.  (beside the Terrace Hotel).  Admission is free.

The Gardens

Lake Junaluska is full of beautiful, and meticulously maintained gardens.  The Assembly, refers to these as "places of meditation and reflection", and they really are.

While the entire Community is full of flowers and gardens, but here are they larger and dedicated garden spaces:

Lake Junaluska Rose Walk

The Rose Walk, at Lake Junaluska

  • Susanna Wesley Garden - Located between the Terrace Hotel, and the World Methodist Museum, this beautiful garden is one of the most beautiful, and is vibrant during Spring, Summer, and Fall.
  • Rose Walk - The Rose walk is lakeside, and along the walking trail that surrounds the lake (see below for more information).  The original walk was created in 1962.  Today, the walk is full of gorgeous roses of various variety and color.
  • Corneille Bryan Native Garden - Located in Stuart Circle, this garden boasts over 500 native species of plants, and is a popular spot for birds as well.  The garden is especially beautiful during the spring.
  • Biblical Garden - Located on the front-grounds of the Welcome Center, it incorporates many plants mentioned in the Christian Bible.  This includes, herbs, figs, pomegranates and vines.  There is also a waterfall and sculpture.
  • The Butterfly Garden - This small garden, is located along the Francis Asbury portion of the Lake Junaluska Walking Trail.  As you enter the garden, you'll find a little garden off to your right with benches.  This is the butterfly garden, offering beautiful views.  In September and October, you'll find migrating Monarch butterflies.
Rose Walk, Lake Junaluska

The Labyrinth

Photo courtesy of Lake Junaluska Junaluska

Located next to the Memorial Chapel, the Labyrinth was first built in built in 2001, and refurbished and upgraded with concrete in 2018.

Labyrinth's are used in many cultures and in religious traditions for meditation and paths of prayer.  During the middle ages, Christians began using labyrinths as a physical metaphor for going on a transformational spiritual journey to the heart of God through Jesus Christ.

The Labyrinth at Lake Junaluska, is of course a great place to meditate, pray, enjoy the view, or just to let the kids follow the path.

Fishing and Meditation Pier

Located at on the south end of the Memorial Chapel parking lot, the fairly new meditation and fishing pier, provides beautiful lake views, and another place for meditation, prayer, and reflection.   The pier extends 40 feet out into the water.

Things to Do

Lake Junaluska is FULL of things to do, and you nor the kids will ever get bored.  

Kayaking and Canoeing

One of the very popular activities at Lake Junaluska during the summer, is kayaking, Canoeing and paddle boarding on the lake.  Visitors are welcome to bring their own boats, but Lake Junaluska also provides canoe, kayak and stand up paddle board rentals. 

Boat rentals are purchased from the Lake Junaluska Recreation Hut next to the Kern Center (by the pool).  

Lake Junaluska Boat Rentals


Boat Tours, cost, and hours are available on the Lake J Website:


Photo by Mary Hoffman

Another very popular activity for both guests and visitors is swimming in the popular outdoor, large, and lakeside swimming pool.  The pool is open to the public Memorial Day through Labor Day, each year.

  • Daily admission to the pool is $6 per person or $20 per family per day (4 person max).  
  • Weekly pool passes can be purchased at the recreation hut for $25/person.
  • Admission is free to lodging guests and Junaluska membership holders.

Pool Hours

Current Pool hours are available on their website:


Photo courtesy of Lake Junaluska

Recently renovated, and located between the Wilson Children's Complex and the Tennis Courts, the Lake Junaluska Playground provides tons of fun for families with children.

The playground was designed and built to reflect the mountainous landscape.  New equipment was added in 2017 thanks to charitable giving by local residents. 

The playground is open to the public and free of charge.


Photo by: Lori Tremper

Lake Junaluska is loaded with Bass (largemouth and smallmouth), Crappie, Bream, Catfish, Carp (big ones), and of course Trout.

Gas powered boats are not allowed, but trolling motors are.  Additionally, kayaks and canoes offer relaxing fishing options.  Visitors fishing can bring their own boats, kayaks or canoes, or kayaks and canoes can be rented as well.

Bank fishing is also allowed in various areas, that are clearly marked.  Fishing is not allowed after dark.  

>> Fishing Map for Lake Junaluska


Lake Junaluska Walking Trail

One of the most popular activities with resident and locals is walking or running on the walking trails.

The walking trail is open to the public, and everyone is invited to walk the 3.8 mile trail around the lake.  There is also a 2.3 mile, shorter loop available as well.

Both walking trails will take you lakeside, all around the lake, and past many of the popular things to do and see at Lake Junaluska.  The entire trail is paved, and for the most part flat.  The trail has many trailside benches for resting as well.

If you love walking or running, the Lake Junaluska walking trail is the best in the area.  You can view a map of the walking trail, here.

Wooden bridge across Lake Junaluska


Lambuth Dining Hall

The Lambuth Dining Hall

Lake Junaluska offers three main on-site dining options:

  • Lambuth Dining Hall
  • Terrace Dining Hall
  • Jones Cafeteria (summer only)

The Lambuth and Terrace dining halls are the nicest options, but all three are good.  Allow the Lake Junaluska staff to service you, while you relax and enjoy the gorgeous lake views.

Visit the Lake Junaluska Dining Facilities page for more information.


Lake Junaluska Golf Course

Lake Junaluska has both a full 18-hole and scenic par 68 gold course, and a mini-golf course as well.

The 18-hole golf course is located across the road from the main Lake Junaluska facility.  The course is 68 par, with incredible views of the lake, surrounding mountains, and community.  

The Lake Junaluska course is open to the public, and family-friendly.  There is a full-service club house, WiFi, and and pro-shop.

The mini-golf course is located near the Tennis Courts and Pool, and is fun for the whole family.  The mini-golf course is open daily from Memorial Day - Labor Day.

Memorial Day – Labor Day:
Monday – Saturday:  10 a.m.  8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Labor Day – October 27:
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Evening Boat Tours

Lake Junaluska Boat Tour

Evening Boat tours, on the Cherokee IV, are available Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m., weather permitting, through Labor Day.  After Labor Day, on Saturdays and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. through Oct. 27. 

Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased at a table just outside Junaluska Gifts and Grounds in the Harrell Center, one hour before the tour.  The boat dock is located behind the Harrell Center.


Lake Junaluska offers more than 400 lodging rooms, and a campground.  Lodging options include:

  • The Terrace
  • Lambuth Inn
  • Apartments
  • Hillside Lodge
  • Mountainview
  • Campground
  • Vacation Rentals

All of the facilities are unique, and provide the perfect place to stay while visiting Lake Junaluska and the surrounding mountains.

The historic Lambuth Inn and The Terrace hotel both offers spectacular views and high end service.

The Hillside Lodge provides a mote-style experience, and the Sunnyside and Mountainview Lodges provide dormitory-style rooms with private baths.  The Lake Junaluska Apartments are wonderful for families, and include kitchettes in many units.

Prefer to Camp?  The Lake Junaluska Campground has 30 and 50 amp full RV hookups, tent sites, apartment efficiencies and a laundromat.

There are also numerous vacation rental homes available as well.  Visit the Lake Junaluska Lodging page for more information.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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