Abandoned, Adventures, North Carolina, Road Trip, Ruins
Comments 4

Abandoned motel finds new life

The Warrior Motel is one of the abandoned motor courts around Bryson City and Cherokee, NC.  Now, a local shop owner has purchased the property and operates out of the front of the motel.

The Warrior Motel is one of the abandoned motor courts around Bryson City and Cherokee, NC. Now, a local shop owner has purchased the property and operates out of the former front office of the motel.

There is something about roadside motor courts that call to me. I’m not talking about motels, your Best Westerns or your Holiday Inn Expresses. I’m talking about a motor court. The kinds of places that had neon signs shouting at passing travelers to stay the night. The kind of place that advertised their water gardens and had a family-run diner on the lot. The kind of place you stopped when you were driving your spanking-new Mustang along Route 66 on your way to California.

If you want to see these today, you have to get off the interstates and hit the blue highways. Many of the remaining motor courts left standing are abandoned and in disrepair. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear them. They whisper, “I used to be a cool cat. People had a groovy time in my water garden.”

So I’m a little rusty on my 1960s slang. But you get the idea. Beyond the cracked pavement and busted gutters, you can see it: An old-school muscle car roars into the lot, chrome gleaming in the sun. A mother in her cat-eye sunglasses slathers on oil poolside while Junior and Joanie splash around. A road-weary salesman in a rumpled suit slurps coffee in the diner. The glory of the American Road trip at its height.

They just don't make signs like this anymore.

The sign for the Warrior Motel will get your attention. It features a brave holding a tomahawk that used to move back and forth. Behind that, you’ll see where the water garden used to be. There is still an umbrella shrouded in weeds marking its place. The pavement is cracked and growing a weed garden now.

For an abandoned motel, the entire property is really in remarkable condition. Although, to be fair, the motel is no longer abandoned. It is also no longer a motel. A local shop owner has set up in what used to be the front office. She carries antiques and random wares – including some nice pieces of furniture and a fantastic chandelier I would have bought if I had somewhere to hang it.

My picture isn't great, but if you look closely, can you can see that white spot on the right? That's the remaining umbrella where the pool used to be.

My picture isn’t great, but if you look closely, you can see that white spot on the right. That’s the remaining umbrella where the pool used to be.

According to one blogger who visited the Warrior Motel in 2010, it was abandoned in 2006. But even looking at another visitor’s photos from November 2014, the property still wasn’t in as bad condition as I would expect. You could tell that animals were coming in and out of the open doors, but overall damage really wasn’t that bad.

Comparing my photos with the November visitor’s, I can tell that there has been a hefty amount of cleanup. Some of the rooms are still full of beds, but some of them have been cleared. I’m curious to see how the current owner of the Warrior Motel continues its restoration. I didn’t ask what her plans were for the place, but I hope whatever she does, she leaves its character in tact.


  1. I’m the “blogger from 2010” and I’m glad to know that somebody’s bought the place. Here’s my Flickr Album. https://flic.kr/s/aHsjrEPUJ3 My husband wouldn’t let me trek over to the remains of the water garden because we were wearing shorts and flip-flops. And then, as we got closer towards the back of the rooms where the vending machines were (I think) we heard this spooky Scooby-Doo-Villain-sounding Howl coming from the woods nearby. Our guess is that somebody was staying there and wanted to scare us away before we found their room. (Husband also wouldn’t let me go inside any of the rooms, not even the lobby, all of which were WIDE OPEN and tempting.) If it had been Winter, we would’ve had an easier time exploring, but then we wouldn’t have seen all the tourist attractions.

    • Thanks for the link to your photos! We went by there again earlier this summer and the business is still there. Its a consignment store, of sorts. They have the main part of the store in the old lobby and it goes back into what I assume used to be the old offices. They still didn’t seem to have a lot going on in any of the rooms, but I was really happy to see they were still there a year later.

  2. Anonymous says

    Our family Used to Vacation at the warrior motel in the sixties they had an actual live Indian brave out front dressed and head dress and loincloth greeting people as they came in I remember that pool water being the coldest water I’ve ever felt in my life

  3. Skye Smith says

    Does anyone have any photos of this motel from the 60’s? I recently purchased some mid century modern chairs that were used in the hotel in the 60s. Would love to see them in their prime state!!

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