The hip Gatlinburg treehouse complex is sprouting new branches.
Treehouse Grove has launched the new “mountain view” phase of its sprawling Great Smoky Mountains resort, and Knox News has rounded up its early plans for the next series of treehouses to be built on the property.
Created by Joe and Joseph Ayres, Treehouse Grove opened in 2020 with eight treehouses designed by Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters” star Pete Nelson.
Nelson returned to design the “mountain view” phase, which adds eight new treehouses to the property. He is already designing phase three, which will be built on a completely new landscape.
“What I love so much is making all the crazy dreams of being the treehouse guy come true,” Nelson told Knox News. “And I take a lot of people with me who have a similar dream.”
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New Gatlinburg Treehouses
Phase three, which Nelson is designing now and will be built later, will place guests in a new environment.
Instead of being next to the creek or up the mountain, the new treehouses will be built in the Holler Valley of Norton Creek. Because the valley is nestled between two mountains, Nelson designed these treehouses to accommodate the slope.
Unlike the current treehouses, the new structures in the valley will be built into the trees instead of extending from them.
He said “it’s about connecting them to a walk” and he didn’t disagree with a comparison to the Ewok village from “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.”
“We went through eight new treehouses,” Nelson said. “They’re pretty vertical. It’s a steep incline in the holler there.”
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Construction of phase three is not yet scheduled, and Nelson said it depends on the quality of the “mountain view” phase. Nelson said he hoped construction “would be underway by next May.”
Collect wood and build dreams
Treehouse Grove is a passion project for Nelson, and he wants the treehouses he designs to perform long-term with minimal maintenance.
He uses reclaimed wood for his designs, including from a western red cedar felled during the Oregon wildfires.
“The number one concern is that we’re not (cutting) in any old growth forest,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to take advantage of the urban forest, as we like to call it, meaning buildings in Seattle, for example, that descend left and right for Amazon’s new headquarters.”
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“The wood in these things, it’s so beautiful, and it’s all that old Douglas fir that they were cutting down over 100 years ago, and it’s being harvested and waiting for us to pick it up and turn it into whatever we want,” Nelson said.
Nelson was able to see his treehouse dream come true, and that makes him excited about the future of Treehouse Grove, which has sparked the interest of so many across the country.
“It was over 30 years ago when I decided I wanted to (build treehouses) and see it in its full form with the kind of happiness it generates, it strikes man, it hits, and I think it hits a lot of people,” Nelson said.
Treehouse Grove Phase Two
The second phase, now open, includes eight new treehouses available to rent for around $500 a night.
Each named after a different tree, the tree houses range from two to four bedrooms and each has queen beds, a sleeper sofa, a small kitchenette, a living room, a bathroom full bathroom and an outdoor porch. Some treehouses have their own unique features, such as a bedroom with a garage door that rises outwards or a covered bar.
The new treehouses differ in layout, as each is molded around the area and tree it occupies. The majority of tree houses are divided into two buildings that rest on a platform: a larger building with the kitchen and a smaller building with only the bedrooms and a bathroom.
All guests can enjoy three communal hot tubs and a grill area with a pizza oven. The new area of the property feels more outdoors than the first phase, as the treehouses are located at a higher elevation and aren’t located in the dense forest.