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How To Help Protect the Smokies

person hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains of NC

There are seven principles of Leave No Trace which help ensure the care and safety of the natural resources, the wildlife and our fellow visitors.

Exploring 4 of Our Favorite Lakes In the NC Smoky Mountains

family looking at ducks at Lake Junaluska

Explore the lakes in the NC Smoky Mountains region for a serene and beautiful experience. Take part in water sports, hiking, or simply relax by the water. These lakes have something for everyone, and each has its unique charm and recreational activities, making them fantastic destinations for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of […]

Explore the Smokies on Horseback at Smokemont Riding Stables

horses at Smokemont Riding Stables

Of all the ways to explore the NC Great Smoky Mountains, few are as exciting as on horseback. At the Smokemont Riding Stable, you can choose your ride from 10 different adventures featuring beautiful trails, waterfalls, and/or historic landmarks. Rest assured, the health and happiness of the horses are of utmost concern to the owners, […]

Fall Adventures with Nantahala Outdoor Center

Mountain Biker on the Flint Ridge Trail in Bryson City

Experience the seasonal change from lush summer greenery to spectacular fall foliage. Each year, the Smokies become a canvas of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows over a backdrop of forested mountains. The temperature is perfect – warm enough for just a light jacket but cool enough to enjoy outdoor activities comfortably. And you will find […]

Visitors Guide to Gorges State Park in Sapphire, NC

Gorges State Park NC

Explore 7,500-acres of natural beauty at the Gorges State Park in Sapphire, NC. Here you’ll find rushing rivers, sheer rock faces, plummeting waterfalls, deep gorges, and rare species of flora and fauna. Trails & Waterfalls Gorges is known for the multitude of beautiful waterfalls located throughout the park. Turtleback Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Bearwallow Falls […]

Explore the Jackrabbit Mountain Trails

Lake Chatuge

Your Trail Quest in the NC Great Smoky Mountains begins with the Jackrabbit Mountain Trail System near Hayesville, NC. Opened in 2011, this system incorporates 14 miles of scenic trails through the southern portion of the lush and tranquil Nantahala National Forest. Although originally created with mountain-biking in mind, the trails are also open to […]

Top 5 Adventures in the Pisgah National Forest

Looking glass rock

Explore 512,000 acres of outdoor playground in the Pisgah National Forest, one of the first national forests established in the eastern US. Located in the southern section of the Appalachian Mountain range, Pisgah includes parts of the Great Balsam range, the Smokies, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. A primarily hardwood forest, Pisgah National Forest includes […]

Celebrating 50 Years of Outdoor Adventure at NOC

Rafting with NOC

2022 marks the 50th year since the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) opened their adventure outpost along the waters of the Nantahala River in Bryson City. What began as a small motel and gas station in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains has since grown to multiple locations across four Southeastern states providing millions of guided trips […]

5 Places to go Camping in the Smoky Mountains

person watching the sunset while camping in the smoky mountains

Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains can be an exciting adventure for families and friends to enjoy together. There are many campgrounds in the Western North Carolina area to visit, all with beautiful views and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Below is a list of some of our favorites. Five Campgrounds to Visit in […]

Shadow of the Bear in the Great Smoky Mountains

Shadow of the Bear

From February through March, and then again in November, a natural, can’t-be-missed phenomenon happens in the Great Smoky Mountains of Jackson County, NC. The Shadow of the Bear occurs when the sun hits a certain point in the sky and a distinct, bear-shaped shadow appears across the mountains. When, Where, and How To Experience The […]

Exploring the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Large poplar tree at Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in Graham County, N.C.,  inspires the kind of hushed awe that can only be found in rare old-growth forests. Widely undiscovered by most, this forest, part of the Nantahala National Forest, lives under the protective watch of the US Forest Service and has remained untouched by logging and development since […]

Elk Viewing in the Smoky Mountains

elk in great smoky mountains national park

An amazing wildlife viewing experience is available in the Smoky Mountains. On any given day you can find dozens of elk in the heart of the Cataloochee Valley. Here the elk roam freely through the valley’s open fields. The elk are most often seen in morning and late afternoon. Bring a camera to take photos, […]

Can’t Miss Adventures in the Smokies

Cherohala Skyway

The Smoky Mountains of North Carolina are a dream destination for lovers of the great outdoors. With stunning year-round views that stretch for miles, thrilling whitewater adventure, Southern Appalachian culture and live entertainment, it can difficult to squeeze everything in to only one weekend. Here are some ideas to help you maximize your time while […]

Top Smoky Mountain Spots for Spring Wildflowers

dogwood blooms

Enjoy an extended wildflower season in the Smokies. As the days lengthen and the weather warms, colorful signs of spring begin to pop up from forest floors and trailside shrubs. Brilliant wildflowers of all shapes, sizes and colors appear across the North Carolina Smoky Mountains in waves from February through late summer, to the delight […]

Four Must-See Waterfalls Near Highlands, N.C.

Bridal Veil Waterfall in the Smoky Mountains

The Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina are home to dozens of breathtaking waterfalls cascading down slopes and rock faces. These four favorite waterfalls are located in Macon County, just outside of the charming town of Highlands, N.C. While three of them are visible from the roadside of US Highway 64 (also […]

Monarch Butterfly Migration in the N.C. Smokies

butterfly in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of NC

Late September in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina brings early signs of fall—cooler weather, the first few brightly tinted leaves, and the fluttering orange flashes of migrating monarch butterflies. The monarchs, with their iconic orange, black and white-patterned wings, pass through the Southern Appalachian Mountains on their way to Mexico, the destination that […]

7 Great Fall Adventures in the Smoky Mountains

Fall Color in Clay County North Carolina

The Smoky Mountains are one of the most beautiful places to visit during autumn, with cool mountain weather and brilliant fall foliage blanketing the slopes. From late September through early November, numerous fall adventures await leaf-peeping visitors. Check out these popular experiences, from serene mountain lakes to thrilling ziplines. Bonus: Social distancing comes naturally for […]

Birding in the Smoky Mountains

An eagle soars across the Smoky Mountains

The Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina are a prime destination for birdwatchers, or “birders,” thanks to a wide range of elevations and a diversity of habitats that welcome both permanent residents and migrating species. The arrival of spring marks the first of the year’s big seasons for birding, when migrating songbirds arrive at lower […]

TOURS/Consierge/Guides: Carolina Bound Adventures, Cataloochee Valley Tours, Alarka Expeditions

hikers in the forest

CAROLINA BOUND ADVENTURES is a concierge vacation planning service in the Bryson City area. They are passionate about creating a memorable adventure for everyone, from the first time visitor to the experienced traveler. With their expertise and familiarity in the area, they help you create an unforgettable family vacation experience. Different adventure packages are available, ranging […]