There’s a scene in the movie Christmas Vacation—you know the one I mean—where the ever-optimistic Clark Griswold describes the foolproof formula for kicking off the perfect family holiday: “By heading out into the country in the old front-wheel-drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.”
Ah, the Christmas tree. It’s something you’ll find in spades at the Boyd Mountain Log Cabins and Christmas Tree Farm, a 140-acre parcel of land framed by the grand scenery of North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. The property has been lifeblood of the Boyd ancestry for more than 100 years, matriculating through generations of grandfathers, fathers, uncles, and sons. It changed hands again in 1972, when Dan Boyd and his wife Betsy purchased the acreage. Even then, Boyd was thinking in the long-term for these hallowed family grounds, and it would be his avid passion for restoring antique cabins that would pave the way.
Cabin Fever // Boyd Mountain Tree Farm is open until December 11, where you may find your tree from 5 to15 feet tall; their popular cabins are open year-round and get booked quickly.
If you didn’t know the story behind the seven cabin rentals that now fan out across Boyd Farm, it might be easy to pass off the delicate teal trims, angled rooftops, wide porches, and hand-hewn log foundations as a twenty-first-century ode to bucolic charm. In truth, the rebirth of these once decaying, neglected structures—all at least 150 years old by now—is nothing short of fortuitous. Those names on the signage staked outside each cabin? Not a random selection of words; they designate the cabin’s original location where it was discovered by Dan Boyd (or one of his buddies) before being moved to Waynesville. The “Cosby” and “Little Cosby” cabins were found as one edifice in Cosby, Tennessee; the “Meadow Fork” spotted near that area of North Carolina’s Madison County, and so on.
Although outfitted with modern touches including satellite television, central heating and air, full-service kitchens, working fireplaces, and other contemporary comforts, the cozy Boyd cabins are restored in such a way that the “good bones” still radiate as the heart of the home. Guests from around the world retreat to this “hidden piece of heaven” year-round to wrap themselves in tranquil refuge and stunning panoramas of fishing ponds, curving highlands, and those beautiful Fraser firs. You’d better act fast if you’d like to do the same; reservations are already booking well through 2019.
With its sloping hillsides and ample sunlight, Boyd Farms also provides a near-idyllic environment for some 60,000 Fraser firs to flourish. It may not take long for families to handpick, cut, bale, and tie off their chosen tree, but Dan Boyd’s son David, who currently manages that side of the family business, says caring for the “Cadillac” of Christmas trees is a real science. Indeed, the rows of trees that crisscross each knoll are all in various stages of growth, some towering more than 16 feet—you’ll find that one in Biltmore Park Town Square—others
the stuff of a Charlie Brown special. But for David, the meticulous work is worth it come opening day.
“When people come to the farm, it’s such a great atmosphere because they’re excited to be here,” he says. “It’s not just about getting a tree; we want people to spend the day, have a real experience. That’s what it’s all about.”