Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sigh...Still Daydreaming About Vacation. Anybody Ever Heard Of The Pink Motel? Status: More Vintage Motel Goodness.


We discovered this place quite by accident a few years ago. We were driving to the east coast without a destination in mind, taking random east bound two lane blacktop roads when we passed through Cherokee North Carolina. There are lots of little towns like this all through the Smoky Mountains so it was just pure luck that we found this place!


The Pink Motel must have one of the most appealing vintage neon signs anywhere. People who

have never been to Cherokee NC know about it. People drive through Cherokee just to stop by and

photograph it. We did one better. We've stayed here twice in our travels out east. The Smokies are

just so beautiful. And this is coming from a guy who's been to the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains,

Redwood forests of the north west, the Canyonlands and deserts of Utah, the beaches of Florida

and southern most Texas and even California. We've been on a few road trips.


There is a river right out side the back door of the rooms of the Pink Motel. There was even a family

or two of ducks hanging out back there! You can rent tubes and catch a ride upstream from the

motel and float back down to your room! How cool is that? Need to get your gamble on? Cherokee

is on Rez land and there is a giant casino in town. There's also all the fun small town things like go

carts, skeeball and putt putt golf. All around you you'll find hiking, mountain biking, and all manor of

outdoor activity.


We chose white water rafting! This is the Big Waterfall at the end of the trip we took. It wasn't this

crazy the whole trip but it was a great way to find out how much we REALLY liked white water

rafting! Sucks that the closest real rafting is about a six hour drive from St. Louis. At least it's not a

TEN hour drive! We'll be doing this again. We went out with a company called Rolling Thunder and

we liked them a lot. They were very professional and inspired confidence in us virgins, but they

were a lot of fun in that "summer camp" kinda way too. They had all kinds of inside jokes about each

other that they shared with us and sang songs on the bus ride up river. The guide we had was very

knowledgeable about the area, his job and the river in general. We all asked lots of questions

during the quieter parts of the river. We shut up and did what we were told on the more challenging

sections. The big guy up front next to me even fell out of the boat!


I was lucky enough to have a little rain in the evening that made for some great night time shots of

the sign. It was nice and cool the whole time we were there too. This was just before that oppressive

heat bubble expanded over to the east coast. We could have used a little of that heat in that cold

cold river!


The interior of the Pink Motel is pretty standard. You get two big beds that are comfortable enough

to sleep on, you get a little fridge and along with the grills out back you can really save some cash

on the food bill if you're a frugal traveler like us. You get a standard TV with cable (kept us occupied

for hours!). I can't remember if there is Wifi but I bet there is. Just your usual motel expectations.

Could have used a microwave.


But then there's this! A beeeuuutiful Pink Bathroom! Sweet! Check out how the tub is partially sunk

in to the floor. See, you don't have to go to estate sales to find Pink Bathrooms!


There are lots of kitschy shops and tourist traps right down the street from the Pink Motel too.

Check it out. Let's go Pan Fer Some Gold! How much fun must this be for all the kids? It looks like

something out of a theme park like Six Flags or Silver Dollar City! Then there's the "Other" Wigwam

motel. This is just about a block away from the Pink Motel. Don't get too excited though. There

aren't any Wigwams to sleep in here. It's just a building with regular rooms. They must have

re-purposed the sign when one of the other Wigwam Villages went out of business. At least the

sign was saved!


  1. It is Cherokee, NORTH Carolina.

  2. i wish iknew this before i went to smokey :)..lovely little motel

  3. I've wondered about this place. It's so pretty on the outside! Glad to hear that it's good on the inside too. And that the pink theme keeps going to the bathrooms. You're braver than me on the rafting part.

  4. Anony - Oops, sorry...fixed, thanks!

  5. Cool! We just got back from the Smokies too. We did the Tail of The Dragon with 300+ other Miata enthusiasts. Great scenery, too bad I was driving to fast to see it...

    It was the annual Miatas at the Gap weekend.

    BTW...we'll look you up next time we are in St Louis.

  6. Ha! I drove the Dragon in Frank (Focus ZTW Wagon) a few years ago! Man, that is one crazy curvy drive! A friend of mine who I grew up with, VisualEchoes, told me about it years ago. He's been there in his S2000 (gone), Subaru STI (gone) and his current choice, a Lotus. We (again) found it totally by accident! Just randomly selecting eastbound secondary roads.

  7. PS, How much "revenue" did your group leave with the local constabulary?

  8. We got stopped going to dinner one evening at a place called Fat Buddies. There were 50+ cars heading to dinner when we got stopped on a hill by some local "revenue" hunters. They were only checking for drivers license. Two of the cars were ticketed for issues with their license. They try to tame us the whole weekend, but most manage to have a little safe fun. There were two Miatas that I know of that were in accidents. One hit a tree head on and did a number on the front of their car. The other one got a little outside the double yellow and hit an oncoming minivan. If you play by the rules you survive, but you have to watch it. Stay on your side of the road is the main rule. 30 mph is the speed limit on the Dragon. Some of the curves are so tight even 30 is too fast. We do push the speed limit, but we try to do it safely.

  9. The first time we found the Dragon was in a rental car, like you by accident. Didn't know anything about it and didn't own a Miata then. We were being passed by bickers at every straight. We didn't know what was going on and thought everybody was nuts! Later, we get the Miatas and found out what it was all about trough our Miata club events.

    I love your friends photo site! That Lotus is sweet! Lotus was the inspiration for the Miata development, so I am a big fan.

    Ok, back to Mid Century now. Well, the Lotus Elan was a 60's car, so maybe it fits.

  10. So happy to find that the Pink Motel is worthy of a stay, and love your photos of the sign at night. I have never seen the Pink Motel in person, but think of it fondly, as our dear internet pal Fuzzy Lizzie / The Vintage Traveler posted about it and allowed me to share her story of it on Retro Roadmap. I've since learned a lot about vintage from her, so it's a great place double!

  11. Absolutely beautiful pics! I've loved the Smoky Mountains all my life and have been there countless times. The entire town of Cherokee looks like a time warp, as though it never got out of the 1950s. I've no interest in the casino, but I love all the junk stores on the main street: the tackier the better! I like Cherokee a lot better than Gatlinburg, over on the Tennessee side.

    I googled the Pink Motel, and it seems they're still in business. Could you tell me how much the rooms cost? I'm heading for Clayton GA in early October, and I may just stop by this place.

  12. Tom H - Sorry, the Girlfriend picked up the tab at the Pink Motel so I'm not sure. I'd ask but she just hit the hay. I think it was about $70 or $80 a night. Not bad. Be warned though, your room will likely have a heavy aroma of cleaning products. I didn't find it a pleasant aroma and had to (on both occasions we've stayed there) leave both doors open for a few minutes to let it dissipate. I have hyper sensitive olfactory system though. I always smell things others can't or aren't bothered by. I'm not bragging but it's my super power. I'm Olfactory Man, sniffing out crime from a mile away. Just sayin'. After being in the room for about 15 minutes I couldn't smell the aroma anymore (became accustom to it) and we've enjoyed our stay there both times. But if you have a problem with strong aromas, consider yourself warned.

  13. Nice writeup of a place I drive by but have to admit I haven't stayed at. I've got some pictures of the sign though! I stay in Cherokee every year to hike in the favorite place.

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