Spectacular Mountain Vistas
Did you know that Cherokee is bordered by two national parks? We’re best-known for the North Carolina half of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But we’re also the southern gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park.
The beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles from Cherokee to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The Parkway was designed for a leisurely drive with plenty of pullovers to enjoy the incomparable views. Yet it’s the southernmost section of the Parkway, near Cherokee, that provides some of the most spectacular vistas. Blue Ridge Parkway map (PDF)
Two overlooks near Cherokee are among the most popular. Richard Balsam Knob (mile marker 431), the highest point on the entire Blue Ridge Parkway, is a favorite of sunset watchers. Enjoy stunning views of the Great Smokies right from the parking lot at Waterrock Knob (mile marker 451.2), which sits at nearly 6,000 feet elevation.
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) both Newfound Gap and the Clingman’s Dome Observation Tower, with its 360-degree view of the mountains, are the best spots for long-range vistas. More about the GSMNP.
And Just a Short Drive Away...
About an hour west of Cherokee, in Graham County, are two natural gems —
The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest offers a two-mile walk through an old-growth virgin forest with giant Hemlocks and Poplars.
Nearby, the 36-mile Cherohala Skyway, connecting Robbinsville and Tellico Plains, Tennessee, provides views that rival the Blue Ridge Parkway. Near Tellico Plains, take the 5-mile side trip (FS Road 210) to the 100-foot high Bald River Falls. This spectacular cascade can be viewed from your car.
Waterfalls in the Cherokee Area
Several waterfalls are accessible with a short, easy walk. The closest falls to Cherokee is the beautiful Mingo Falls, about 5 miles out Big Cove Road from Saunooke Village. Pass the KOA Campground and look for the parking lot on your right. The walk from the parking lot is short (100 yards) but very steep.
Just east of Cherokee on US 19 towards Maggie Valley you’ll find Soco Falls – a double waterfall – on your right. There’s a small unmarked pull-off, and a short walk leads you to a viewing platform for Soco Falls and another smaller falls. 11 miles from the intersection of US 441 Bus. & US 19. (From Maggie Valley, it’s about 1.5 miles west of the Blue Ridge Parkway on your left.)
Nearby Bryson City has three graceful falls just out from town in the National Park at Deep Creek — Juneywhank Falls, Tom Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls. All can be seen in an hour’s walk in the Park.