Places to Visit IN THE SMOKIES

Cherokee Attractions and Events Are Just Minutes From Bryson City

No visit to the Smoky Mountains would be complete without a trip to Cherokee, where traditional arts and crafts and Native American culture are respected and preserved for coming generations. Much of what is called the Qualla Boundary is within Swain County and we are proud to help you learn more about the original inhabitants of these mountains.

And Cherokee is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill are located just north of Cherokee on US 441 (Newfound Gap Road). Easy day trips to Clingman's Dome, Gatlinburg, Cades Cove and Pigeon Forge; horseback riding at Smokemont; and great hiking trails are located on US 441.

Cherokee is also the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The entrance is on US 441 just north of Cherokee. Enjoy a trip to Waterrock Knob for a beautiful sunset, or just take a scenic drive on this beautiful "backroad" of America

Attractions on the Cherokee Indian Reservation

Kituwah — As you drive to Cherokee from Bryson City following the fertile, bottomland of the Tuckasegee River, you will pass a large circular mound, which is believed to be the site of the first Cherokee village and one of the largest settlements – Kituwah – possibly dating back 10,000 years. Over the past two hundred years the acreage has been used for farming and raising cattle. This took its toll on the entire site,which now measures 170 feet in diameter and rises only five feet.
Oconaluftee Indian Village — Walk through the village – a faithful reproduction of Cherokee life in the 1750s. Guides in native dress lead you to demonstrations of arrowhead making, blowguns, bead working, finger weaving, mask carving, pottery and canoe hulling. You will visit a Council House and learn about the medicinal importance of herbs, plants, bark and reeds. The Village is open from mid-May through October. More info
Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama — The powerful portrayal of the Cherokees’ tragic “Trail of Tears” was first produced in 1950. Music and dance and Cherokee legends are woven into the play. The drama includes many famous Cherokee including Sequoyah, Junaluska, Chief Yonaguska or Drowning Bear, William Holland Thomas (adopted son of Drowning Bear and the first and only white chief of the Cherokee), Tsali, Selu the Corn Mother and Kanati the Great Hunter. The drama is presented June tthrough August. More info
Museum of the Cherokee Indian — Some of the most modern technology, computer-generated imagery, and special effects are used to retrace the 11,000 year documented history of the Cherokees. Virtual storytellers present ancient Cherokee myths. Chronological stories are paired with an extensive collection of artifacts to involve you in this fascinating story. You will meet some of the best-known Cherokees and learn of their heroic efforts to preserve their land and culture. More info
Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual — Founded in 1946, the oldest and leading Native American Arts cooperative in the United States. Cherokee craftsmen are keeping ancient skills alive today. The Cherokees are known for their ground-fired pottery, oak and river cane basket weaving, beadwork, stone and woodcarving, and tool making. Visiting this store is like walking through a crafts museum, except you can take home the work of these artisans. More info
Cherokee Fun Park — Family entertainment center on Hwy 441 N in Cherokee. Complete with 75-plus arcade games, go karts, specialty rides and miniature golf. Hundreds of prizes. Located near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Saunooke Village. Fun for the whole family. More info
Mingo Falls — Meaning “Big Bear” in the Cherokee language, Mingo Falls is located in the Big Cove community just north of Cherokee. At 120-feet tall, it is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Southern Appalachians. Directions
Cherokee Trout Fishing — 30 miles of some of the finest fishing for brook, rainbow and brown trout. Clear trout streams and three ponds regularly stocked. Tribal permit required, easily available in Cherokee. More info
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort — A true Vegas experience in the Smokies with 3,565 slot games and 172 table games. But don't spend all your time on the floor - enjoy one of the eleven restaurants, full service spa, shopping, and a multitude of shows to be found at the 3,000 seat event center. More info

Downtown Cherokee is "alive" with colorfully painted fiberglass bears that are part of a public art program featuring the talents of local Tribal artists. Each one of the bears represents an aspect of Cherokee culture. You'll find "Eagle Dancer Bear," "Woodlands Pottery Bear," "Winter Bear," "Fish Bear," and even "Veterans' Bear."

Maps of all 20 bear locations are available at the Cherokee Welcome Center. Some folks have even had their picture made with every bear!


Bryson City - Swain County
Chamber of Commerce

210 Main Street
P.O. Box 509
Bryson City, NC 28713


Karen Proctor Wilmot
Executive Director

800-867-9246 toll-free
828-488-3681 local
828-488-6858 fax