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Santeetlah Lakeside’s History & Inspiration

Every place has a story that gives us a greater appreciation of its meaning and place in history. The story of Santeetlah Lakeside is no exception. Its story unveils the uniqueness of this community and the rare opportunity it offers a fortunate few to own a piece of this majestic, unspoiled mountain lake escape, especially with the introduction of our condo residences.

Santeetlah Lakeside & The Great Camps of the Smokies

A vision of Jose Rosado, Santeetlah Lakeside was the first development of the Great Camps of the Smokies, which was inspired by the Great Camps of the Adirondacks in New York, a compound of stately properties where families came together for old-fashioned outdoor fun, including canoeing, hiking, fishing, and exploring. The Great Camps of the Smokies, established before the 2008 Recession, consisted of four interconnected developments. These developments, in the heart of Western North Carolina, were built on the principles of creating well-appointed getaways that blended together the beauty of nature with fine architectural details and living comforts.

Hidden in the deep wilderness sanctuary of the Nantahala National Forest, Lake Santeetlah is a well-kept secret and protected from commercial developments, forever protecting its pristine, unspoiled status. The communities of the Great Camps honored their native settings, and each committed to strict practices to protect the surrounding lands and conserve the natural woodlands. A majority of each community is preserved as common areas, and they naturally integrate with the extensive scenic trail system and into national and state parks that border the communities.

Santeetlah Lakeside, originally founded as one of the ‘Great Camps’, is a waterfront community where its architecture and amenities are in unity with the surrounding wilderness and awe of the North Carolina mountains. The homes and amenities here mimic the splendor of the forests, lakes, meadows, and waterfalls. The architecture is guided by nature and is an extension of the natural beauty with touches of modern conveniences.

The History of Lake Santeetlah

Digging a little deeper into the history of this area, the Town of Lake Santeetlah was established just over 30 years ago on April 13, 1989, and prior to that it was known as Thunderbird Mountain. Kenneth Keyes, known as the father of Lake Santeetlah, built a development that had a swimming pool, tennis court, restaurant, meeting area, and cabins. It is believed that he had plans to build a large hotel complex but had to sell the property in 1958 to another developer. In the early 1960s, Smoky Mountain Resorts built a lodge and cabins, and landowners began to build on the lots surrounding the lake bringing the undeveloped area to life.

The lodge was abuzz with social activities, from dancing and bingo to movies and mail delivery, and became known as the “heartbeat of Thunderbird Mountain Resort.” The original lodge was also a “locker club” when the county was dry and hosted numerous country singers, most notably Johnny Paycheck, famous for several songs, but probably most well-known for “Take This Job and Shove It.”

The lodge eventually became the sales office of Santeetlah Lakeside and is now the site of our new condo development. This storied site will soon be home to 10 well-appointed condos and offer an exclusive ownership opportunity on Lake Santeetlah—there are currently no other condos on the lake.

The Condos at Santeetlah Lakeside will bring a maintenance-free option to those seeking a piece of this mountain paradise. Situated at the highest point on the property, the three-story structure will offer unmatched panoramic views of the lake.  Each of the 10 units will offer luxury details and upscale living with the lock-and-leave convenience only condos can offer. Each unit comes with a boat slip at the community dock and covered parking for cars and golf carts.

Extending the original principles of the Great Camps of the Smokies, this condo development was thoughtfully planned, both inside and out, to offer the best living experience Lake Santeetlah has to offer while preserving the local beauty. The outdoor space is immense and features a wood-burning fireplace and grill. With more people seeking an escape from their chaotic worlds that doesn’t add more stress or worry, our condos will provide a maintenance-free, move-in ready ownership option. The condos are also a great investment by offering rental opportunities-not a common benefit of master-planned communities

Lake Santeetlah is a true mountain lake tucked away deep in the Great Smoky Mountains, and Santeetlah Lakeside captures lakeside living at its finest. To learn more about Santeetlah Lakeside homes, lots, and new condos, or to schedule a tour of our private waterfront community, contact a sales representative today. To read more about the history of the Town of Lake Santeetlah, click here.


For sales information, visit
Private Mountain Communities, Grove Arcade
1 Page Avenue, Suite 150, Asheville, NC 28801

Property tours by appointment only