April 17, 2013
My wife Jane and I were married at the Buckhorn Inn on June 12, 1982. It was a small wedding party of our families and a few close friends. The ceremony took place on the terrace with everyone gathered around us. With the beautiful backdrop of Mt Le Conte and the surrounding mountains, it was special to say the least. The rehearsal dinner and reception were also held at the inn which was rented entirely to our families and guests. Being young and excited with the entire affair, we hardly had a chance to really appreciate the surroundings, but the memories of loved ones and the unique inn were wonderful. Jane’s parents were longtime residents of Knoxville, TN and heard about the inn through friends. Of course this was in the days before the addition to the main inn. We stayed in Cottage 2 that first night after the ceremony before hitting our honeymoon road to other places. In retrospect, we wish we had stayed to honeymoon at the Buckhorn.
Fast forward 25 years to our next trip to the Buckhorn for our 25th wedding anniversary in 2007. Although we had talked about visiting again over those years, somehow, raising our two children, careers, and other family vacations distracted us from doing so. Finding the inn’s website we were excited to make plans for that first trip back. It was thrilling to pull into the parking area when we arrived and see the place again. When we checked in and were asked if we had stayed there before, I immediately and rather proudly explained we had been married at the inn and were back for the first time for our 25th anniversary. Lee, John and the staff immediately made us feel welcome and treated us as someone special. We were totally enchanted with rediscovering the Buckhorn. We were impressed again with the stunning views, as well as the fabulous meals, and beautiful grounds. The new additions and upgrades to the inn made it so luxurious. Being avid hikers, we quickly established our daily routine: hitting the trails in the park after breakfast for an adventurous day long trek, followed by a gourmet dinner at the inn. As we said then and now, it just couldn’t be any better. We could stay only 3 nights this first time back, but immediately made plans to return the next year.
The Buckhorn is now our favorite getaway destination. We have made it up for spring and fall trips most every year since as well as our anniversary each June. From our standpoint, we had catching up to do! For our 30th anniversary we brought our grown children along for their first trip to the inn. Our stays revolve around daily hikes in the Smokies and the sublime comforts of the inn. We have explored many different trails, but return regularly to destinations such as Mt Cammerer, the Ramsay Cascades, the Albright Grove, Brushy Mountain, the Jumpoff on Mt Kephart, Mt. Leconte and many others. We’ve established favorite trails for wildflowers in the spring, for fall leaves, waterfalls and summit views. If it is a long strenuous hike, we’re in, so long as we can get back to the inn in time for a little recovery and a sumptuous Buckhorn dinner (which we never miss). Despite sometimes tired legs, we tramp around the grounds every day. Jane makes sure to visit the swans and check out the gardens each afternoon. Another routine is a post dinner walk to the Webb Mountain overlook to enjoy the night air and stars. I take endless photos of the views in all weather conditions, trying to capture the unique beauty of each day we spend there. We truly relish our time at the Buckhorn. Those times are made all the more special by Lee, John and the staff, who greet us as familiar friends. We really feel welcomed like family and are prone to call all by first name. For us the Buckhorn Inn is the most special of places; for its unique beauty and history, the people, the surrounding mountains, and our own personal connection. Sincerely from Robert and Jane
We felt like kids again, skipping through Buckhorn’s meadows, playing badminton and horseshoes, and walking through Rachael’s Labyrinth. What a great place to come to travel back in time. From Jake and Iris
Grand old Buckhorn Inn is simply divine!
With great food to eat and mountains to climb
Wine comes with dinner, whatever you choose.
Everything’s perfect! Guests have nothing to lose!
So we will pack our bags to come back again—
And next time were there, will be our number ten!
From Jonelle who visits each spring with her husband and extended family
Our first visit to Buckhorn Inn was picture perfect. We enjoyed our surroundings at the Inn and in the Smokies. We highly recommend that you have dinner at the Inn. The trout we had was prepared perfectly and we left stuffed! Kudos to all the staff from Barb and George
Our week has been a bit crazy so I am overdue in expressing thanks for a lovely dinner this past Sunday. This was our first opportunity to visit in a while so it was really special. We notice that you don’t charge us a corking fee for our wine. That makes us feel very special in being recognized as faithful customers who have always brought their own bottle!! Thank you for that little perk; we will honor it with continued visits as well as recommendations to others. We are so glad the Buckhorn is here and is doing well. It is one of Gatlinburg’s best treasures. Appreciatively and fondly from Molly and Dick
March 18, 2013
My two daughters, Lynne and Barbara, gave me an 85th birthday surprise of five days at the Bebb House! We’ve been coming to Buckhorn Inn almost from the beginning of Lee and John’s ownership. We have so many wonderful, funny and factual notes about the history. This visit was a first “experience” with the swans. Not knowing how territorial the males are, Lynne ventured too close. Teller came over the fence, wings spread, and in very explicit body language, as she tried to back away, he made it very clear she was not welcome period. Barbara cheered Lynne from a safe distance, and eventually Lynne made it safely away. My very wise PhD daughter apparently was not given wisdom about swans. But being respectful of all species, a lesson was learned, and she will not be friending a male swan ever again. From Sarah in Cincinnati
March 12, 2013
Pete and Mary Ruthenberg
Mary Ruthenberg’s mother and father, Maynard and Martha Rogers, began visiting Buckhorn in the 1940’s. Maynard, who was a petroleum geologist who graduated from OSU in 1937, first visited the Smokies as a college student even before Buckhorn was established. Through a cousin of Doug Bebb (the Inn’s Founder) he discovered Buckhorn in the 1940’s and began yearly visits to the Inn, introducing his children to the pleasures of being outdoors and hiking the mountains. Annual seven-day visits to Buckhorn Inn were a staple of Mary’s family life. She remembers games of skittles by the fire and long, lazy days when she could read all afternoon. Sometimes she hopped on Doug’s Jalopy when he gave rides to her and her brother and sister. Hiking the mountains on these visits was a family affair, taking along hearty lunches packed by Doug himself. Doug would also help out the family by spotting a car at the end of one way hikes. Mary also remembers the company of Doug’s children, especially John, who could race up to the top of Mt. Le Conte and back in record time.
“My parents became good friends with Doug over the years. They were among those special few who were invited to Doug and June’s home for the famous cocktail hours,” Mary remembers. “My parents and my siblings really thought that Buckhorn was ours,” she said, “ours and Doug’s.”
When Mary and her future husband Pete were conducting their six year courtship in the 1960’s, Pete was included in the family trips to Buckhorn, although he ruefully points out that he and Mary were not allowed to be in a car by themselves. He remembers Doug as “a complex person, a big strong man who was light on his feet. He wasn’t a back-slapper but when he warmed-up to people, his good-nature was apparent.” When Mary and Pete married and settled in Indiana, they continued the tradition of annual visits to Buckhorn, bringing their three children, Meg, Matt and Peter, and continuing to enjoy the family tradition of hiking the mountains, including trips up Le Conte. “Matt was the first person to catch a fish in Buckhorn Pond after Doug dammed it up,” Mary recounted proudly.
Mary and Pete still visit Buckhorn Inn, a 70-year family custom. They say that the changes to the Inn over the years which have brought it in line with the requirements of today’s travelers haven’t spoiled it for them. However, they still prefer to stay in “Doug’s rooms,” the traditional rooms on the second floor.
March 7, 2013
It was 3am and there was a loud rap at the door. My husband and I snapped out of sleep in a haze of confusion. We groggily looked at the time and then at each other wondering what was going on. Then we heard it again… RAP RAP RAP. We jumped out of bed and went to the door, slowly opened it and peered outside. There was our daughter standing at the door with a big smile on her face. She had driven down for 8 hours from Virginia to surprise us. The days that followed were amazing. We hiked, enjoyed some amazing wine, talked for hours laughing and crying about our lives, and dined on some amazing food. We were able to share with her the place we had been coming to for years to escape the craziness and stress of the “real world”. The views from our cabin alone were the most restorative aspect of the entire trip. The three of us would sit out on the balcony and look over the valleys and trees and listen to the restorative quiet. Sipping on wine we would talk about past memories and what was going on in our lives. The peacefulness of Buckhorn brought us closer together as we were able to share such a special place with our daughter. Submitted by Virginia O. from Florida
We congratulate Buckhorn Inn on its 75th anniversary. We have a special memory of how well we were treated and made to feel special when we booked six rooms four our Army ” Vicenza Gang” reunion in 2011. As usual the service was outstanding and the meals exceptional. We have been having these reunions for over 30 years all over the country, and our “gang” all said this was by far the best one ever. We appreciated that we were all seated at two tables together in the library where we shared lots of stories and laughter. There is NO place like the Buckhorn Inn and we hope we can get back again soon.
Sondra and Larry, Toledo, Ohio
February 16, 2013
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In early June, 1955, Peggy and I were married and honeymooned in Gatlinburg. Unfortunately, we did not know Buckhorn Inn existed. Fifty years later, in June of 2005, we were privileged to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary at the Inn. It was idyllic, and, yes, romantic, even enchanting—a pleasant day followed by a beautiful star-lit evening as only the mountains can provide. The weather was cool and the soft crackling of a log fire added to the enchantment; the Mozart was serenely beautiful; the aromas of Country Granary bread blended with the herbs of the Beef Tenderloin whetted our appetites for the outstanding dinner.
With the permission of the Innkeeper we shared Champagne so all the dinner guests joined in a toast which made it, for us, a memorable evening indeed. Since that occasion we have celebrated seven more anniversaries, all at the Inn. We, like the Inn, plan to have a unique event for our 75th birthday this year which, while special to us, will have to be special indeed to surpass the enchantment and fond memories of that 50th.