Monday, November 24, 2014

Roads to Adventure - Robbinsville, Fontana Dam, Lake Santeetlah, and Stecoah, North Carolina

Graham County, North Carolina, is home to 4 vibrant outdoorsy towns, including Robbinsville (voted #2 in the Best Outdoor Towns by Blue Ridge Outdoors readers), Fontana Dam, Lake Santeetlah, and Stecoah.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bryson City North Carolina Named Top Town By Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine Readers

 Blue Ridge Outdoors (BRO) magazine named Bryson City the Top Outdoor Town for 2014. More than 85,000 votes from BRO readers and fans poured in over a four week period to determine the winner. According to Will Harlan, BRO editor-in-chief, "With Great Smoky Mountains National Park and world-class whitewater at its doorstep, Bryson City is the perfect base camp for big adventure. The Tuck flows right through town, and the Appalachian Trail, Nantahala River, Fontana Lake and Tsali singletrack are just a stone's throw away." Read more:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Outdoor Fun in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains

Enjoy these family-friendly activities in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Darnell Farms, Bryson City
J.W.Mitchell Farms, Franklin
Hayesville Evening Market, Hayesville
Thomas Berry Farms, Sylva
Walnut Hollow Ranch, Hayesville
Horseback Riding
Arrowmont Stables & Cabins, Sylva / Cashiers
Carolina Outfitters Whitewater Rafting, Bryson City
Chunky Gal Stables, Hayesville
Smokemont Stables, Cherokee, Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Fontana Village Resort, Fontana
Nantahala Village Mountain Resort, Bryson City
Walnut Hollow Ranch, Hayesville
Gem Mining
Gold City Gem Mine, Franklin
Jackson Hole Trading Post, Highlands
Mason's Ruby & Sapphire Mine, Franklin
Nantahala River Gem Mine, Bryson City
Primitive Outback, Inc., Otto
Rocky Face Gem Mine, Franklin
Rose Creek Mine, Franklin
Zip Lining
Highlands Aerial Park, Scaly Mountain
Nantahala Outdoor Center, Bryson City

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wine Around the Square in Downtown Hayesville, NC

Taste wine with 10 area vineyards while strolling inside and around the Square to visit with local artisans and businesses. Specialty foods will be available for purchase to enjoy with a variety of wines.

The 2nd Annual Wine Around The Square takes place in historic downtown Hayesville, North Carolina on Friday, October 3, 2014. Cost is $20 per person, and the event runs from 5 PM - 9 PM

A concert with Susan Riley & the Junction Band starts at 7 PM. Watch for updates at or call 828-389-2121 for more details. Proceeds benefit the Historic Courthouse Resotration Fund. Sponsored by Clay County Communities Revitalization Association.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ken Burns shares secrets of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

"There is a great human story" of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to Ken Burns, the Emmy award-winning filmmaker. As co-creator of the PBS series America's Best Idea: The National Parks, Burns and his team spent over six years filming in national parks across the United States. Burns sat down with USA TODAY and shared the secrets of Great Smoky Mountains and nine other national parks for a special 10-part series, Secrets of the National Parks.


Check out this story on

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Whitewater Falls in North Carolina - A Must-See Waterfall This Fall

Must-See Waterfall this Fall: Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rockies, falling 411 feet! The walkway to this waterfall viewing area is 1/4 mile and paved, making easy access for wheelchairs and strollers. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot. A lower overlook with an even better view is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps. There is a $2 cash fee per person, so be prepared to pay. To get there, travel south on 107 out of Cashiers NC, cross the SC/NC state line. Turn left (E) on SC 413. Continue for 2.3 miles until it dead-ends at SC 130. Turn left (N) on SC 130. Continue for 1.2 miles. After passing Nantahala National Forest, Whitewater Falls sign, turn right into parking lot.

Whitewater Falls, North Carolina

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hike to High Falls Near Glenville, North Carolina

If you're feeling adventurous, consider a hike along the High Falls Trail to experience High Falls during a recreational water release between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM- one of seven water releases each year. Parking is just past the Glenville Dam on Pine Creek Road (off of 107). Total length of the trail is 0.70 mile from the trailhead to the kayak put-in at the base of the falls. Keep in mind that the elevation drop from the trailhead to the put-in is 650’, about 73 flights of stairs. Not too bad on the way down, but keep this in mind for the hike back up! You can also observe the kayakers at the newly installed take-out near the Thorpe powerhouse along 107.

Remaining 2014 recreational release dates include July 26 and August 9. High Falls is a great hike any time of year, although many prefer the thunderous high flow that takes place on select dam release dates.


Kayakers,here's what you need to know about these challenging Class IV/V rapids:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Highlands NC Nature Center and Biological Station

The Highlands North Carolina Nature Center and Biological Station offers exhibits and year-round educational programming focusing on the biodiversity of the southern Appalachian region. Botanical Garden Trails are open every day until sunset.

Special events throughout the year include topics of Earth Cay Conservation, Know Your Frogs, Owl Prowl, and Salamander Meander, to name a few.

More info

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Refreshing Hike to Cullowhee Falls (also known as High Falls)

Looking for a refreshing easy hike to a waterfall? Cullowhee Falls (a.k.a. High Falls), is a 1.8-mile pet friendly hike that meanders along an awesome creek, through groves of rhododendron, past small waterfalls, and over bridges. Come for the waterfall and the views; stay for the possibility of finding the cache. A great location to have a picnic lunch! (A compass will be needed to find the cache.) Access to the trailhead is off of 107 between Cashiers/Glenville and Sylva/Cullowhee, NC. Turn onto Shoal Creek Mountain Road (it's a right turn if you're traveling south), and park just past the red gate (on the right). Do not worry if the gate is shut or locked, there are signs posted welcoming hikers. Start hiking the gravel road & it leads you directly to the trail!

Cullowhee Falls, photo provided by Jackson County TDA

Cullowhee Falls, photo provided by Jackson County TDA

Cullowhee Falls, photo provided by Jackson County TDA

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cheoah River Release near Robbinsville, NC, Whitewater Kayaking with Class IV-V Rapids

Santeetlah Dam releases flows into the Cheoah River according to a regular schedule. Located near Robbinsville, North Carolina near the western edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for nine miles, the Cheoah roars through continuous Class IV-V rapids, culminating with Bear Creek Falls, a dramatic twelve-foot waterfall, which is shown in this video, and easily viewed off U.S. 129, near the Tail of the Dragon. Due to a limited release schedule, the Cheoah is only available to raft on a limited schedule each year. If you're looking for a Smoky Mountain rafting adventure of a lifetime, the Cheoah is it!. Find places to stay in Robbinsville: Release Schedule:

Friday, June 27, 2014

4th of July Festivities 2014 in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains

 July 2-5
Fontana Damn, NC Independence Day Celebration 
The barbeque pit is ready, the music line up is hot and the fireworks are aimed towards the sky for this year’s annual July 4th celebration at Fontana Village Resort.
This year’s celebration includes a full slate of activities and entertainment for the entire family. The activities schedule runs from Wednesday, July 2nd through Saturday, July 5th.

July 4-6
Cherokee, NC 39th Annual Pow Wow
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Hosts the 39th Annual Pow Wow July 4-6.
This year’s event features world-champion dancers and drums competing for prizes. Vendors from across the country will offer food and arts and crafts items.
The Pow Wow opens at the Acquoni Expo Center (formerly Cherokee High School) Friday, July 4, at 5 p.m. with a grand entry at 7 p.m. and a fireworks show at 10:00 p.m. The event begins Saturday, July 5 at 10 a.m. and grand entry at 1 p.m. and 7 a.m., and Sunday, July 6, at gates open at noon with grand entry at 1 p.m. Admission is $10 per day with a weekend pass for $25.
While you are here, check out the other happenings in Cherokee over the fourth!

July 4th
Bryson City, NC Bryson City’s Freedom Fest
Kick off with the Firecracker 5K with local artisans and crafters, entertainment, festival foods, watermelon eating contest, hula hoop-off, air guitar contest, music, and lots more! Listen to the Star Spangled Banner as you view the fireworks show in the Smokies.
For more info call 828-488-3681 or 800-867-9246.
Don’t forget, the renowned Great Smoky Mountain Railroad trips through the Smokies.

July 3-6th
Hayesville, NC Weekend Celebrations in Hayesville, NC
Thursday-Evening Harvest Farmer's Market on the square! Don't miss the Clay County Fireworks at the Dam on July 4th!

July 4th
Downtown, Waynesville, NC Star & Stripes Celebration in Waynesville, NC
Oversized American flags, shop, galleries, restaurants open, sidewalk areas filled with entertainment, musicians, Uncle Sam, and the Haywood Community Band. Kid’s Patriotic Parade - decorate bicycles, tricycles, scooters, strollers & wagons! Patriotic dress & decorations required. All ages welcome.


July 4th 
Downtown Sylva, N.C., will be abuzz with summer spirit on Friday, July 4 to celebrate Independence Day starting at 5:00 PM at Bridge Park. Barium Springs will host the following activities:
  • Face painting
  • Hula Hooping by Kelly Jewel Timco
  • Corn Hole games
  • Pool toss game
  • Prizes
  • Frozen T-shirt contest
  • Activities for children will be available from 5-7 p.m.
At 5:45 p.m., the American Legion will hold a special ceremony. 

There will be a corn dog eating competition at 6 p.m., followed by an ice cream eating competition at 6:30 p.m. Prizes for both competitions are as follows:
  • First place: $25 gift certificate
  • Second place: $15
  • Third place: $10
  • Every contestant will receive a $5 card from South of Philly, a free small waffle cone from Jack the Dipper and an event T-shirt. The winner will also have their name on a plaque at both businesses.
Dashboard Blue will highlight the evening with a performance at Concerts on the Creek at Sylva’s Bridge Park from 7:30-9:30 p.m. 
  • Jack the Dipper and South of Philly plan to be onsite to sell ice cream and sandwiches. A portion of proceeds will be donated to Barium Springs for local projects.
  • City Lights and Mad Batter are offering boxed lunches for sale. 
  • There are no fireworks planned in Sylva this July 4. Fireworks are planned in Cashiers on July 4 and Glenville on July 5.


July 4th and 5th
Music,  Moonshiners,  Motors,  &  Mountaineers 
July 4th - 11:30 am  to 11:00 pm
July 5th - 9:00 am to 11:00 pm
Courthouse Square - Robbinsville, NC

Meet the "Moonshiners"See a real moonshine still
Gallery of Graham County historic photos, landmarks,
and buildings

Kids' Contests
Greased Pig Chase
Sack Races
Fish Casting
Hula Hoop
and More


When: July 4th
Where: Highlands
What: July 4th Fireworks
Start your day at the baseball field with fun and games for the kids, there will be a bottle rocket launch, and relay races, Work up an appetite and walk over to the Community Building a get a Burger or hot dog from the Rotary Club, Plates include chips, pickle, and a cookie for $5, Drinks $1. Cook-out starts at 11:00am. Visit MAMA helicopter and sit in a fire truck. At 1pm The 3rd Annual Rotary Rubber Ducky Derby will be held at Mill Creek , by SweeTreats. Ducks are for sale for $10 at the Visitor Center. At 6pm join everyone in Town Square for live music, and also live music at Pine Street Park. At 8pm there will be a patriotic sing at the Presbyterian Church. Then around 9pm the fireworks show will begin. For questions about any of the activities please call 828-526-2112.

Where: Town Square
What: Friday Night Live
Johnny Webb Band


July 4
High Hampton Inn, Cashiers, NC
Independence Day Picnic
Come experience the magic of the mountains during one of High Hampton Inn's biggest events of the year!
Happy Birthday America! Come celebrate our nation's birthday with us here at the High Hampton Inn. We are throwing a huge festive picnic right here on the lawn of the Inn. It's a wholesome, All-American tradition with activities that the whole family will enjoy. Feast on our scrumptious barbecue and s'mores and take pleasure in the special entertainment that we provide.


July 4
Cashiers, NC
Fireworks will be at dark, on Friday, July 4th at The Village Green, following Groovin on the Green at 6:00 with The Extraordinaires (Soul/R&B). Sponsored by the Village Green and the Greater Cashiers Area Merchants Association (GCAMA).
Location : The Village Green
Contact : Ann Self (828) 743-3434 More info.


July 5
Glenville, North Carolina
8:30pm: Fireworks over Lake Glenville will begin at dark.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Freedom Fest - A Small Town Celebration of the 4th of July in Bryson City, North Carolina

Bryson City's annual Fourth of July celebration begins with the Rotary Club Firecracker 5K and then continues with local artisans and crafters, a full day of local entertainment, festival foods, and fun events including a Watermelon Eating Contest, Hula Hoop-off, and - new this year - an Air Guitar Contest! Explore Kids' Street where you'll find a water slide, bouncy house & more. And even more music and kids games from 6-9 pm at Riverfront Park.

Even Fido is not forgotten – enter your best friend in the "Strut Your Mutt" event at Riverfront Park that awards ribbons for categories such as "Best Tail Wag" and "Looks Most Like Owner".

Where else can you find "Elvis" as your emcee as well as performing some of his favorite songs?

As the day wanes and the final band exits the stage, listen to The Star Spangled Banner as you view one of the most spectacular fireworks shows in the Smokies!

For more information about Freedom Fest call 828-488-3681 or toll-free 800-867-9246, or email.

Gregory Bald, Great Smoky Mountains Azalea Blooms

Gregory Bald is known for both its historical and botanical significance. Cades Cove residents used this highland grassy bald as summertime pastureland for all sorts of livestock, including cows and sheep. Bison and elk may have grazed here before that. Famous for its beautiful azaleas, hikers conquer the steep trails to Gregory Bald in an annual pilgrimage each June. It is a magical time, with azalea blooms in shades of orange, red, pink, yellow and white. Coupled with the spectacular views of Cades Cove and the surrounding mountains, the azalea bloom and pastoral setting make Gregory Bald an especially picturesque location in the Smokies.

© GSMA 2014. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lake Chatuge - Perfect for Fishing, Camping, and Water Sports

Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina is beautiful Lake Chatuge. In 1942, the TVA constructed a 2,950-foot earth-and-rock dam across the Hiawassee River, forming Lake Chatuge. Visitors enjoy leisurely strolls along the dam with its spectacular view of the lake and surrounding mountains. With more than 130 miles of shoreline, the lake has numerous finger-like projections of land forming interesting coves for great fishing, swimming, boating, skiing and jet skis, canoes and kayaks, picnicking, and camping. There are many public boat ramps that offer easy access to all water sports. A swimming beach, playgrounds and numerous picnic tables are also available. Many of the campgrounds are located on the scenic lake shore, and other campgrounds offer more private settings.

BBQ and Brews Dinner Train

Departing from Bryson City Saturday June 28, July 12, and August 30, 2014, the BBQ and Brews train will travel to the Fontana Trestle and arrive just around sunset for a spectacular view! This adult (21+) only train ticket starts at $69* includes a souvenir tasting glass for 3 samples of the finely crafted beer selections that will be featured. Dinner will include a pulled pork BBQ sandwich on a pretzel roll, a bag of original Kettle Chips, homemade coleslaw, and a slice of apple pie for dessert! Additional beer will be available for purchase. Reservations

Family Fun on the Water in Bryson City, NC

Nowhere else in the Smokies can you find as many ways to enjoy water as the Bryson City area offers. From mountain cascades and waterfalls to scenic rivers to the mighty Lake Fontana, you can fish, swim, ski, go boating, tubing, rafting and kayaking. Or if you're more laid back, take an easy walk to three sparkling waterfalls just outside of town. More ideas for cool summer fun on the water:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Taste of the Plateau in Cashiers, NC

Taste of the Plateau is a summer culinary event in Cashiers, NC, featuring both nationally and regionally acclaimed chefs. An exemplary weekend of fine food and fun, featuring:

The Patron's Party Beginning Thursday, June 26th, 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. - a Vine and Dine patron party and gourmet wine-pairings dinner will be held at The Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
Taste of the Plateau - A "Food and Wine Tasting" event with the region's finest chefs is scheduled for Sunday, June 29th, 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. on the school's campus.

More info:

Photo by

Huckleberry Knob - A Great Hike off of the Cherohala Skyway

Huckleberry Knob, at 5,560 feet, is the highest point easily reachable from the Cherohala Skyway, and it provides a magnificent panorama of the Unicoi Mountains. The wide trail—actually an old road—makes for an easy family hike, 2.4-miles round-trip. Traveling west on the Cherohala Skyway, the trailhead is located on the right about a half-mile beyond mile marker 9, that is, about 8.5 miles from the Tennessee border.

Photo by Graham County Travel

Yellow Creek Falls in Robbinsville, North Carolina

Yellow Creek Falls is one of #Robbinsville's best kept secrets, in a secluded location, making it easy to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere around the falls. A small pullout on the right side of 129 north of Robbinsville NC provides parking. (Directions: The 0.3 mile long trail is signed at the start. If you enjoy fishing bring along a pole as there are quite a few holes located along this creek. If it has been raining you might even see a few kayaks going off of the falls. 

Yellow Creek Falls. Photo by George Evans

Thursday, June 19, 2014

High Hampton Inn... An Inn to Remember

Embraced by the Blue Ridge Mountains in Cashiers, NC, High Hampton is a historic resort on a beautiful 1,400 acre estate at 3,600 ft. Enjoy golf, tennis, fly-fishing, hiking, private lake, and world-class spa. Each season there are memorable activities and events for all ages. High Hampton is an ideal venue for friends and families. Gracious hospitality and excellent cuisine await you. Please call 866.319.0229, or go online, for details about special offers and events:

Play On in Jackson County, NC And Skim New Surfaces

Play on in Jackson County, NC where waterfalls, hiking trails, golf, rafting, fishing, and a wealth of natural attractions are the scenic backdrop for a burgeoning culinary and arts scene. Discover Dillsboro, a walk-about village with local galleries and fine shops. Stroll along Main Street in Sylva and tour a local brewery. Browse for antiques and boutique treasures in Cashiers. At altitudes that range from 2,000 to 4,000 feet, this western corner of NC is over¬flowing with warm hospitality and refreshing mountain air. Mountain resorts, historic inns, and friendly B&Bs offer great places to relax, play and stay.

The Tuckasegee River Provides Excellent Fishing for Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout

The Tuckasegee River runs through several small towns, including Dillsboro and Cullowhee, North Carolina. For this reason, it has several access points, as highlighted in this article from Our State Magazine: The Tuckasegee River is also part of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail, the first and only fly fishing trail in the United States! The trail takes you to 15 excellent spots for catching brook, brown and rainbow trout:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mountain Lakefront Camping Experience in a Yurt!

Discover a mountain-lakefront camping experience like no other near the North Carolina Mountain Towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva! These round, wood-framed, canvas structures called yurts are set on decks, offer luxury and comfort while enjoying an authentic-outdoor-with-nature experience. Located along the banks of pristine Bear Lake, a 476 acre fish-rich, skiing & boating lake. More info:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fingerlake Recreation Area on Lake Fontana

Fingerlake over looks Fontana Lake and provides access for swimming. Several Nantahala River Outfitters that offer kayak and canoe lessons use Fingerlake for access to Fontana Lake. The area has parking, picnic tables and a vault toilet. Keep in mind that all freshwater swimming sites are "swim at your own risk." There are no lifeguards. Directions: As you head out of Bryson City on US 74 toward Almond, Stay right on 28. Fingerlake is on the left about 2 miles.

More ideas for fun on the water:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Browse the Charming Shops in Dillsboro

Browse the charming shops in historic Dillsboro. Where else can you find cheeses, coffees, chocolates and confections all within a short stroll of each other? There are shops devoted to the arts and crafts of the Smokies. There are fashion boutiques, home furnishings stores, and the town's venerable General Store with its old-fashioned soda fountain. Learn more about shopping in Dillsboro
Photo of Papous Wine Shop Courtesy of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce