Exploring the Fontana Dam and Visitors Center on Lake Fontana NC

Lake Fontana Dam near Robbinsville NC

Visiting the Fontana Dam and Visitors Center was high on our list of things to do during our latest car camping trip around the Great Smoky Mountains.   Having already spent several days camping in the Nantahala National Forest, the dam was an unmissable, stop-off on our way to campgrounds in Bryson City NC and Cherokee … Read more

The 10 Best Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains in Winter

Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains in Winter

The Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee are spectacular at any time of year, including Winter. Sure, the chilly Smoky Mountains Winter weather drives some folks indoors. But for visitors interested in snow skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, hiking, and/or exploring waterfalls, Winter is a perfect time to visit! Whichever category you fall into, … Read more

The 10 Best Smoky Mountains Hotels to Visit in NC & TN

Best Smoky Mountains Hotels

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg TN, and Pigeon Forge TN are huge vacation destinations complete with theme parks, ski resorts, and other fun attractions. Smoky Mountains Hotels provide a comfortable place to recharge for the next day’s adventures. The southern boundary of GSMNP in North Carolina is the town of Cherokee in the Qualla … Read more

The 20 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains

Fall color Smoky Mountains

Autumn annually amazes western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee visitors with fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains. In our experience, the best scenic views in the Smoky Mountains can rival any place in the world. And autumn is arguably the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains. Forests on these peaks are thick with deciduous hardwood trees … Read more

30 Great Smoky Mountains Facts for Trivia Buffs

Newfound Gap Great Smoky National Park

People head to the Smokies of North Carolina and Tennessee for many reasons. Some want to go on epic Great Smoky Mountains hikes, while others want to witness the mysterious Great Smoky Mountains fireflies (a.k.a. Blue Ghost fireflies). Many Smoky Mountains visitors come on a pilgrimage to see lots of waterfalls, but some just want … Read more

The 15 Best Smoky Mountain Waterfalls to Visit

Laurel Falls Smoky Mountains

Of all the Great Smoky Mountains attractions, chasing waterfalls is arguably among the most popular and rewarding activities.   The Great Smoky Mountain waterfalls are abundant and breathtaking, with hikes that appeal to every age and ability level.   In our experience, many of these Smoky Mountains waterfalls are among the most impressive natural attractions … Read more

The 20 Best Things to Do in Cherokee NC & the Qualla Boundary

The Best Things to Do in Cherokee NC & the Qualla Boundary

[Updated May 9, 2023] Cherokee, North Carolina is not like any other town we’ve ever visited during our extensive explorations of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  That’s partly because most of the area lies within the Qualla Boundary, which is held as a land trust by the US Bureau of Indian Affairs for the federally recognized Eastern … Read more

Visiting Mingus Mill in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Cherokee NC)

Water flume on the side of Mingus Mill in Cherokee NC

With the endless array of things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it can be difficult to figure out which activities and attractions to prioritize. If you’re even remotely interested in the history of the Appalachian range, don’t miss a chance at visiting Mingus Mill in NC. Located just 4 miles north of Cherokee, … Read more

20 Best Things to Do in Bryson City NC & Swain County (2023)

Downtown Bryson City seen from the Oconaluftee Loft Balcony

[Updated February 13, 2023] Bryson City is surrounded by Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the north, Fontana Lake to the west, Cherokee NC to the east, and the Nantahala National Forest to the south.  So even a shortlist of the best things to do in Bryson City NC could include dozens of exciting activities … Read more

20 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in the Smoky Mountains (NC & TN)

Dollywood Christmas Pigeon Forge TN

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular of all the national parks in the United States. And if you’re looking for unspoiled natural beauty, it’s arguably the best place to visit in the Smoky Mountains. But when it comes to the holiday season, the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains in … Read more