Explore the Oconaluftee River Trail

Come walk the Oconaluftee River Trail, an easy path alongside one of the great Smoky Mountain Blueways. This 1.5-mile trail (3 miles round trip) takes you from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the edge of Qualla Boundary (the land of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) and the city of Cherokee, North Carolina. Along the way you’ll be treated to views of the beautiful Oconaluftee River, wildflowers, diverse animal life, and lush mountain scenery.

The Oconaluftee River Trail is distinctive because it is the only trail on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where you can ride a bike or walk a leashed pet. Because the Oconaluftee River Trail is a gentle trail, as well as stroller accessible and dotted with benches along the way, this is a great trail for families with children and seniors.

Learn About Cherokee History on the Oconaluftee River Trail

Learn about the history of the Cherokee while exploring the Oconaluftee River Trail. The Cherokee have lived in this beautiful river valley for thousands of years. In fact the word Oconaluftee is said to have come from the name of a Cherokee village called Egwanulti, which translates to “near the river.”

Interpretive signs along the Oconaluftee River Trail will teach you about the history, culture and spiritual beliefs of the Cherokee. Each unique sign is written in English and Cherokee and is illustrated with designs created by Cherokee artists.

For more opportunities to learn about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, visit the nearby Cherokee Cultural District. Cherokee, North Carolina website to learn more.


There is something beautiful to see every season of the year on the Oconaluftee River Trail. Come see some of the diverse plant and animal life that abounds in the Smokies. See the pageant of lush foliage and colorful wildflowers that bloom all throughout spring, summer, and autumn including trillium, violets, purple phacelia, wood betony, silverbell, foamflower, phlox, crested dwarf iris, jack-in-the-pulpit, squirrel corn, mayapple, aster, jewel weed, bee balm, touch-me-not, spotted wintergreen, yellowroot, rivercane and more. If you are lucky you may even spy a rare pink or yellow Lady’s Slipper Orchid.

Nearby Activities

There are many great activities to do nearby the Oconaluftee River Trail. A visit to the trail could include any number of outdoor recreational activities and visits to area attractions.

  • Anglers from all over the world come fly fishing on the Oconaluftee and the surrounding Smoky Mountain Blueways.
  • The Mountain Farm Museum: a free, open-air museum that preserves and showcases log cabins, barns, a smokehouse and other authentic structures built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Catch a glimpse of what farm life was like for the settlers who lived in the Smokies at the turn of the century.
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center – Come learn about the history of the Cherokee Great Smoky Mountains National park, get trail maps, see cultural exhibits and shop in the gift shop. The museum inside will tell you about the Cherokee, European Settlers and the development of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • Mingus Mill – This historic mill was built in 1886. The mill’s water powered turbine was used to ground corn into cornmeal.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway – Go on America’s favorite drive and see breathtaking views of the Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains.
Cullasaja River RV Park
Cullasaja River RV Park offers 90 Full hook-up sites along the beautiful Cullasaja River just outside the town of Franklin. Arrival at Noon and departure at Noon. We now offer Wifi.
6269 Highlands Rd Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 524-2559 www.campnc.com Get Directions
Deep Creek Tube Center & Campground
Deep Creek flows out of the Great Smokies National Park and by our campground. We rent light-weight vinyl tubes for $6 (all day rental). Tubes are available at a discount to registered campers and groups. Life jackets are available for children. Our camp store also sells creek shoes and other tubing accessories and souvenirs. We have twenty-one rental cabins, from modern campground cabins to hand-hewn log cabins, plus a large house for small groups. cabinsondeepcreek.com; More than 40 campsites, from creekside tent camping to pop-ups, travel trailers, RVs and mobile homes. Gem Mining: Pan for rubies, sapphires, quartz, topaz, emeralds and other colorful gems at the Deep Creek Tube Center Mining Company.
1090 West Deep Creek Rd Bryson City, NC 28713 (828) 488-6055 deepcreekcamping.com Get Directions
Park and Walk to Everything! 10 spacious, wooded, full hook-up sites in the Heart of Downtown Franklin! Walk to shopping, restaurants, "Pickin on the Square", festivals, entertainment, Little Tennessee River, fishing hiking, banks and grocery. ENJOY YOUR SUMMER! Explore Franklin and surrounding areas. Gather 'round the community campfire'. Game room. CAMP IN THE WOODS IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN! Two night minimum.
160 Heritage Hollow Drive Franklin, NC 28734 (941) 720-0067 www.downtownrv.com Get Directions
Fort Wilderness RV Park & Campground
Come on In and spend your vacation with us! Old fashioned family camping. We welcome groups, family reunions, church groups, and Good Sam groups. Open all year (cabins more of the year). Family Camping with 130 shady sites on 11 acres, Our swimming pool is open through October 31! Near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 7 miles. Harrah's Casino 1.5 miles Smoky Mountain Railroad, Lake Fontana, Nantahala Gorge, Deep Creek and Bryson City 10 minutes ​Santa's Land, Shopping,Restaurants and Cherokee Indian Reservation 5 minutes ​Trout fishing, tubing /rafting 1/3 mile to the river ​Sequoia golf course across the street and Smoky Mountain Golf Course 5 minutes
284 Wilderness Road Whittier, NC 28789 (828) 497-9331 www.fortwilderness.net Get Directions
Franklin RV Park and Campground
20/30/50 AMP, full-hooks, streams, bath house, shaded sites, cable TV, Internet access, no tents.
230 Old Addington Bridge Road Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 349-6200 www.franklinrvpark.com Get Directions
Gorgeous Stays
Gorgeous Stays is a boutique size "Glampgound" nestled in the scenic Nantahala Gorge and minutes from Bryson City. Young guests call our place "magical." Each of our 11 units are thoughtfully decorated and totally unique: including fun-themed tiny homes, huge safari tents, a yurt, a school bus and more family-friendly "stays." Units sleep either 4 or 6 guests. Each unit is equipped with: mini-fridge, microware, K-cup coffeemaker, AC/heat (or fan), all bedding, towels, gel-memory foam mattresses and an RV toilet for nighttime convenience. The colorful lodge has 5-star bath amenities, a huge relaxing covered deck, games, a small camp store, TV, wi-fi, and firewood. We also have 4 platform tent sites, community firepits, covered food pavilions, propane grills, a creek and wide-open greenspace to complete the outdoor experience. All lodging areas are strictly non-smoking. Pets allowed in all tents sites and only specific other rentals. We are the perfect vacation stay where campers and hotel-lovers come together. Conveniently located on Highway 19, Gorgeous Stays is at the center of rafting, zip lining, fishing, mountain biking and the Appalachian Trail. When you are at Gorgeous Stays, "The Stay is Part of Your Adventure" OPEN: MARCH-DECEMBER
11044 Highway 19 West Bryson City, NC 28713 (828) 421-2282 www.GorgeousStays.com Get Directions
High Country Haven Camping and Cabins is a back to nature campground with all the modern amenities located in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. We have RV sites with full hookups 30/50, fire rings, picnic tables, WIFI, restrooms and showers. Cabins and tent sites available also. Located 10 minutes to downtown and within 45 minutes to Cherokee, Bryson City, Dillsboro and Sylvia. 175 Highhaven Lane, Franklin, NC 28734. (828) 369-2267
Mi Mountain Campground
Mi Mountain Campground in Franklin, NC is a family oriented campground, with Full Hook-ups, Large Level Shady Sites, pull thru sites,rustic cabin rentals & Tent Sites. We also have a clean bath houses, a pavilion, a playground, horseshoes, cornhole, LP Gas and readily available are Ice, Firewood & Cable T.V. Family-oriented. Daily, Weekly & Seasonal rates. Open all year round.
151 Mi Mountain Rd Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 524-6155 www.mimountaincampground.com Get Directions
Moonshine Creek Campground
Moonshine Creek Campground offers cool,secluded camping on rushing mountain stream at an elevation of 3500 feet. RV sites, tents, and cabins all on creek just 5 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Heated clean bathhouses, Campstore, Wi Fi, and full rentals. Located in the Smoky Mountains, close to Cherokee, Maggie Valley, Waynesville and near Asheville. Motorcycles welcome.
2486 Dark Ridge Road Sylva, NC 28779 (828) 586-6666 www.moonshinecreek.com Get Directions
Murphy/Peace Valley KOA Holiday
The Murphy KOA is your peaceful retreat in the Heart of the Smoky Mountains located one mile from Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino. We offer furnished Deluxe Cabins, shaded full hook up RV sites with Cable TV and Wi-Fi internet, tent camping and RV storage. Take short trips to world class white water rafting, scenic rides on the Cherahola Skyway and Tail of the Dragon, train rides through the Nantahala Forest, and visit many local antique shops and restaurants. Or stay at our Award Winning Campground relaxing by the campfire on the peaceful Valley River. Swimming, Pool, Tubing and Fishing, Pet Play Area, Playground, Gameroom, Pavilion, Riverfront.
117 Happy Valley Rd Marble, NC 28905 (828) 837-6223 peacevalleycampground.com Get Directions
Old Corundum Millsite Campground
Old Corundum Millsite Campground is a beautiful RV Park and Campground located on the Cullasaja River in Franklin, North Carolina. Old Corundum is close to some of the best attractions in Western North Carolina. Golf, gem mining, white water rafting, fishing, hiking, and the Smoky Mountain National Park are all just a short drive. Most sites are shaded and almost half of our sites are located on or close to the River. Come visit Old Corundum Millsite Campground.
80 Nickajack Rd. Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 524-4663 www.ocmcampground.com Get Directions
Pines RV Park and Cabins
4 miles west of Franklin of Rt. 64 - 66 Sites, 53 30 AMP Full Hook-Up, 2 Larger Plus 50 AMP Sites Full Hook-Up and 11 Electric and Water - 2 Full service Log Cabins. WIFI and 4 Satellite TV Stations - Paved Park Roads. Facilities - Rec. Room, Laundry, Spotless Bath Houses, Playground, Basketball, Shuffle Board, Campfire Rings, Picnic Tables and some Planned Activities, Pet Friendly Park. Tenters to 45' RV's and Groups welcome.
4724 Murphy Rd Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 524-4490 www.gocampin.net/pinesrvpark Get Directions
River Vista RV Resort
River Vista Mountain Village is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Foothills of the Appalachians. Outdoor pool, Indoor Pool/Spa. Playground with B-ball hoops, swing set and more. Our Mountain Village Center is a large community building with a stage, 2 kitchens, double sided fireplace and will seat 250 people. A majestic waterfall can be seen to the east of the resort pouring down the side of one of our beautiful mountains. Fish galore are swimming around the fountain in our catch and release pond. 5 W rated by Woodalls, River Vista is the RV resort to be rivaled by none in the Foothills of the Appalachians.

FMCA Discounts
Good Sams Discounts
20 River Vista Dr. Dillard, GA 30537 (706) 746-2722 www.rvmountainvillage.com Get Directions
Rose Creek Campground & Cabins
Nestled in a serene valley surrounded by mountains, we offer full hookup shaded RVsites, air condition rustic cabins with linens, tent sites and water electric sites for popups and tents , hot shower's, Wifi, a swimming pool, teather ball, corn hole, horse shoes, basketball, bass fishing pond and gem mining. There is firewood and ice available at our campstore. Located 10 minutes from town with an abundance of mountain activities all around us.
140 Terrace Ridge Drive Franklin, NC 28734 (252) 286-2008 rosecreekcamping.com Get Directions
Peaceful & beautiful views away from it all...Perfect! A small fridge, toaster, electric skillet, microwave & coffee maker was all provided. The bed was super comfy. The fire pit was great! It's all just minutes away from Nantahala Outdoor Center. 200 Sky Ridge Drive, Bryson City, NC 28713. (704) 701-5696
200 Sky Ridge Drive Bryson City, NC 28713 (704) 701-5696 www.skyridgeyurts.com Get Directions
The Great Outdoors RV Resort
We are proud of our 2018 Good Sam rating of 10/10*/10. We are BIG-RIG Friendly! MOTORCYCLE-friendly! Welcome RALLY groups! All sites are full hook-up with 30/50 power, Water, city sewer, Cable, and WIFI. Our Club House has two kitchens, flat screen TV, banquet facility, workout room, swimming pool, laundry, general store, bark park, and much more! Relax rocking on the porch. Cabin for rental also.
321 Thumpers Trail Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 349-0412 www.gorvresort.com Get Directions
Valley River RV Resort
Come experience luxury in the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Amenities include spacious RV sites, 50 amp service, clubhouse with kitchen, bathhouse and laundry facility, Wi-Fi, cable TV, grills, outdoor pool, game room, fishing lake and pet washing station. Waterfront sites available. Directly off Hwy 74 between Andrews and Murphy. Across the street from the casino. 65 Old Tomotla Rd. Marble 28905 828-385-4220 Valleyriverrv.com
65 Old Tomotla Road Marble, NC 28905 (828) 385-4220 www.valleyriverrv.com Get Directions
Whistle Stop Depot RV Park
Beautiful mountain views, wi-fi, power, water, sewer. Call or email.
145 River Road Franklin, NC 28734 (828) 349-1600 whistlestopantiquesnc.com Get Directions
Rivers Edge Outfitters
River's Edge Outfitters Cherokee is located in the heart of the Smoky Mountain National Park on the Cherokee Qualla Boundary. With over 3000 miles of trout water within an hour's radius of our shop, this area boast's some of the best fly fishing on the East Coast. The Tuckasegee River, the Nantahala River, the Oconoluftee River, the Raven's Fork, and the Little Tennessee River are just a few of the river systems that we fly fish. Just a few miles from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the North Carolina side of the Smokies contains several world renown fisheries. Deep Creek, Hazel Creek, Forney Creek, Eagle Creek, Raven's Fork, and Straight Fork are just a few of the wild trout fisheries that lie on the eastern slope of the Smoky Mountain National Park. Looking for trophy trout on the fly? The Raven's Fork catch and release fly fishing only section is one of the best public trophy water fisheries in the southeast. With most trout averaging 18+ inches this fishery offers the fly fisherman the opportunity to catch trophy trout on one of the most scenic river systems in Western NC. Shop: Fishing Gear, clothing, guide trips, rods, reels, bait, flies, classes, permits, flyfishing!
61 Big Cove Road Cherokee, NC 28719 (828) 497-9300 www.wncfishing.com Get Directions