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Home Vacation Camp Swann is an eclectic, photo-friendly getaway that’s not just for kids

Camp Swann is an eclectic, photo-friendly getaway that’s not just for kids

by Staff

Note: This story was updated July 5 to correct the name of the design studio that helped with decor.

Chattanoogans Adam and Cortney Swann are now booking guests at the former summer camp on Monteagle, which they purchased and spent the last year renovating, transforming it into a vacation destination worthy of a magazine spread.

Most of the 10 remaining cabins at the former Camp Mountain Lake, built in 1942, were primitive-style cabins — screened-in rather than air-conditioned, and with composting toilets instead of the flushing sort.

“We’ve redone a cabin before — or a yurt or a condo or whatever, but never 10 cabins at the same time,” Cortney Swann says.

The Swanns added drywall, air-conditioning, electricity and running water to the cabins, nine of which are available to rent, with the tenth cabin occupied by the property’s caretaker. Most are one-bedroom cabins, and one is a two-bedroom, which they call “the lodge,” that features a full-size kitchen, washer, dryer and shower. While all the cabins have running water, all but the lodge share a separate shower facility nearby.

“Every cabin has its own unique theme,” says Cortney Swann, who did all the decor with the help of Kentucky-based Liz Betack Design Studio and murals by Chattanoogan Olivia Reckert. Themes include Palm Springs, wilderness glam, Dolly Parton and vintage camp style.

They’re making good use of the former summer camp’s communal spaces for the new micro-resort, including converting an old tennis court into pickleball courts and a surface used for a giant chessboard. There’s also a picnic area with grills and a fire pit for s’mores, as well as access to the lake located in the neighboring state park where guests can fish or kayak. They’re in the process of remodeling the old dining hall and gym into game rooms with pool tables and gathering areas for guests that should be completed within the next few months.


Located about 45 minutes from Chattanooga and an hour and a half from Nashville, the property draws guests from both cities as well as people just passing through the area, she says.

“Some of the best hiking in the Southeast, like Foster Falls and the Fiery Gizzard trail, are just right down the road, and we also get people coming in for concerts at The Caverns,” Cortney Swann says, referring to the subterranean concert hall in Grundy County. “We also have people who are local who are looking for somewhere not too far just to get away.”

People can also rent out the entire camp for groups of friends, birthday parties or family gatherings, as the Swanns did with their family a few weeks ago.

“I think it’s really fun and a really great place to connect to nature,” she says. “I’m not really a camper type person, but this kind of gives you all the luxuries of boutique camping — getting to build a fire and go to the lake and be in nature — but still has a lot of the modern amenities.”

Instead of the typical Gatlinburg-style bear-theme cabins you often find for rent in the area, the couple wanted to create something with an eclectic, trendy vibe that makes for good photos and a fun experience.

“I think that that’s what our guests are getting,” she says. “We’ve only been open a few weeks … but we’ve already had several people be like, ‘I’m definitely coming back. I want to rent it out for like a week next time. This just wasn’t long enough.'”

Prices range from $119-$229 per night, depending on the cabin and season, or $1,750 per night for the entire 50-acre property. Find out more at

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