Activities in the NC Smokies

Whether you are here for a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, you you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in the NC Smokies: scenic train rides, world-class fishing, golfing and mountain biking, rafting and kayaking, hiking, even riding an inner tube down a splashy creek. Come to Bryson City and have a big vacation in a small town!

Bryson City NC

Bryson City, the county seat of Swain County, is a small mountain town on the banks of the Tuckasegee River at the southern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At last count, the population was approaching 1500. In stark contrast to the towns on the Tennessee side of the Park, Bryson City has kept its laid-back, small town charm and offers a more relaxed way to enjoy the Smokies. Driving through the sleepy downtown, you may wonder why the town’s advertising proclaims “Have a Big Vacation in a Small Town.” Or why Bryson City is often called “The outdoor adventure capital of the Smoky Mountains. It’s because all the activities take place in the mountains, gorges, rivers and lakes surrounding the downtown. Downtown Bryson City is where you go to relax, dine and shop after a busy day of outdoor activities.

Cherokee Indian Reservation

The Cherokee Indian Reservation, much of which is in the eastern part of Swain County, is the ancestral homeland of the Cherokee Indians. Officially known as the Qualla Boundary, Cherokee offers natural beauty, family attractions, outdoor activities and the rich history of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The nations’s most visited national park includes more than a half-million acres of mountain terrain equally divided between North Carolina and Tennessee. Roughly 40 percent of the Park is in Swain County. While most visitors experience the Park from US 441 — the main road connecting Gatlinburg, TN and Cherokee, NC — the park has much more to offer including 800 miles of hiking trails that range from easy to more challenging back country trails.

Nantahala Gorge

Just 20 minutes west of Bryson City on US19, the Nantahala Gorge is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the Bryson City area, even if you do nothing more than enjoy the river’s incredible beauty.

Scenic Drives in the NC Smokies

Make Swain County your home base for a mountain vacation, and get ready to enjoy some of the most scenic roads in the country. Whether you drive on four-wheels or two, you’ll love our curvy mountain roads with endless mountain vistas, sparkling rivers and creeks, lush forests and peaceful valleys.