Things to Do in the Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo pic

Santo Domingo

Robert Rankin has served as owner and operator Snowbird Mountain Lodge in Robbinsville, NC for the past 22 years. When he isn’t hiking or taking in other Robbinsville, NC, leisure activities, Robert Rankin also enjoys traveling to international destinations such as the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic has become an increasingly popular Caribbean destination, and as a result, the tourist industry there is booming. The attention is well deserved, as the island offers many wonderful experiences to both first-time and repeat visitors. For those new to the island, here are two aspects of the Dominican Republic that are worth exploration:

Santo Domingo is not only the capital city of the Dominican Republic, but is also the Western Hemisphere’s oldest recorded European settlement. As one might expect from a city with such a pedigree, Santo Domingo is brimming with historic districts that serve as an homage to the colonial period. The island also has more modern appeal as well, boasting arts and cultural museums as well as some of the country’s best fine dining. For the first-time visitor to the Dominican Republic, a trip to Santo Domingo should be at the top of the list.

There are also plenty of things to do outside the hustle-and-bustle of the big city, though. In fact, the Dominican Republic is home to numerous ancient cave systems. Tourists can hike, horseback ride, or even swim through some the caves located throughout the country’s various national parks, many of which are populated by native bats and turtles and adorned with stalagmite formations.


Mountain Attractions in the Dominican Republic


Pico Duarte pic

Pico Duarte

Robert Rankin has owned and operated Snowbird Mountain Lodge in Robbinsville, NC for twenty two years. Although Robert Rankin likes to hike the mountains around Robbinsville, NC, he also enjoys traveling and climbing mountains in other places, such as the Dominican Republic.

Situated on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is known for its beaches and mountains. The tallest and most popular mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, is part of the Jose Armando Bermudez National Park. Another popular mountain, La Pelona, lies close to Pico Duarte and rises to a similar height. Captivating views of the Caribbean Sea can be seen from the tops of both mountains.

On the western side of the Dominican Republic, overshadowed by Pico Duarte, Ciguapa Cascading Falls is reached by hiking a path through the mountains and over rough terrain through dense forest. The falls themselves are actually a number of waterfalls dropping over a series of cliffs to deep pools below. Adventurous visitors jump from the cliffs to the pools. Others simply admire the views and the seclusion.

Hiking Near Robbinsville

As Spring approaches we are seeing more and more hikers in the forests that surround Snowbird Mountain Lodge and the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock/Citico Wilderness in the Nantahala National Forest. It’s these times that we spend time helping to find
“lost” hikers and I thought this might be a good space to give you some tips about being in this remote area of North Carolina.

Know that here, all of the usual hiking tips apply.

1. make sure that you have appropriate hiking shoes/boots on your feet as all of our trails         in the area are root and rock strewn, a twisted or broken ankle here will cause major             problems.

2. Cell Phones are great tools, but realize that in this remote section of North Carolina and      Tennessee, they WILL NOT work in most locations. So, the ability to send a text or make      a call for help is all but impossible!

3. Make sure that you have a day pack at the very least. Inside the pack please carry some         extra food, water, water purifying supplies, rain gear, first aid kit and warm clothing.

All of these common sense items are especially important in the woods that surround Robbinsville. This is remote country and yet so close. This area isn’t like the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but sparsely populated and traveled. These are the qualities that make this area so beautiful and attractive and Fun to be in!

Without a doubt you can have an amazing time in our woods and we want you to. If I can help you in any way, don’t hesitate to call me at Snowbird Mountain Lodge – 800-941-9290 and I’ll help you plan a great adventure in nature!

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Explorer, AdventurerIMG_8702


Jackson Hole Wyoming – The Wild Wild West

It was the perfect time of year for us to escape Snowbird Mountain Lodge and the heat of Robbinsville, NC. My mother always laughs when I tell her I need to get away from the “heat” of the North Carolina mountains. “Robert Rankin”, she says… “Just you move back home to Decatur, AL and we’ll show you what heat and humidity really are”! No thanks I always say.

As a child and then young man I was blessed to often travel with my family to the West. Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho were States where the wild wild west still bloomed. Places with names like Butte, Laramie, Driggs, Crested Butte filled our imaginations. My brothers and I often couldn’t wait for the next cowboy adventure. Those memories continue to call to me til this day and I find myself pulled to the Rocky mountains every chance I get. Travel is an adventure for me, time to find the next view, the next trail, the next “pardner”. This summer I had the chance to introduce my daughters to the magical west in a very special way…….


Wyoming. Often called by Jackson Hole, which isn’t the name of the town, but the valley thatIMG_3737 stretches from the Yellowstone National Park all the way to Hoback, WY. It is a stunning and beautiful place with whitewater rivers, trout fishing galore, hiking trails in abundance, mountain IMG_3631and road biking and nature in all of her grandeur! While there we took advantage of all of those things plus great food in the town of Jackson. We explored the Yellowstone National Park and hiked in the Grand Tetons even managing to swim in some icy cold lakes….I so loved creating those memories, both for myself and my girls. It was perfect.

While I love the west and those magnificent Rocky Mountains I now also know the magic that these mountains I call home hold. Flying back home I watched as the terrain began to change IMG_3822and the trees became more dense and lush. Driving back to Robbinsville, NC and up the mountain to Snowbird Mountain Lodge I knew I was back home…where I belong. My little town is country filled with country folk. Some highly educated and some not, but all here are authentic…in a very real sort of way. If home is indeed where the heart is, then I live in the perfect place and on the perfect mountain…Summer heat and all!

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Adventurer & Explorer

Visiting the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo

Robert Rankin of Robbinsville, NC, currently oversees all activities at Snowbird Mountain Lodge, which is located in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains. When vacationing outside of the Robbinsville, NC, area, Robert Rankin enjoys traveling to domestic and international locations. He has recently spent time in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic has become a sought-after destination for travelers, thanks to its warm tropical weather and a diverse, visually engaging landscape. Tourists who find themselves spending time in the country are often directed to the city of Santo Domingo as a main attraction. One of the most historically and culturally rich cities in the Western Hemisphere, Santo Domingo offers distinct Spanish architecture dating back to Colonial times as well as countless restaurants and eateries.

Santo Domingo’s central square Plaza de la Cultura is home to the Palace of Fine Arts, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Palace, and a number of additional places of interest. Historians can also enjoy the city’s Colonial City district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other popular stops in Santo Domingo include the National Botanical Gardens and the city’s storied Malecon, a seaside promenade famous for its scenic views.