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Things to Do

Welcome to the Great Outdoors

Western North Carolina's mountains, streams and lakes set the stage for an abundance of vacation activities. You'll find a comprehensive directory of Things To Do and Places To Go on the Bryson City website Here are some favorites —

Bryson City, a World of Adventure

Great Smoky Mountains National Park — The GSMNP is the nation's most-visited national park. The most popular areas are along US 441 between Cherokee, Gatlinburg, and Cades Cove — an easy half-day trip from Bryson City. Be sure to visit the Park's Oconaluftee Visitor Center just north of Cherokee. Deep Creek — Just five minutes north of Bryson City, the Deep Creek Recreation Area is one of the most popular sections of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with hiking trails, trout fishing, waterfalls, and whitewater tubing.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad operates scenic rail excursions through the beautiful countryside of Western North Carolina. Departing from the historic Bryson City Depot, trips go into the Nantahala River Gorge or to nearby Dillsboro. Themed trips include Moonshine Car, BBQ & Brew, Pumpkin Patch Express, Wine & Dine Events, and Polar Express. Steam and diesel trains. More info

Explore Downtown Bryson City — With just 1500 full-time residents, downtown activity is mostly clustered around two short streets — Main and Everett. It’s pure small town Americana with gorgeous scenery, local bookstores, galleries with working artisans, family friendly museums, craft breweries, and a surprising variety of restaurants. Don't miss the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians (and its new Aquarium), and the Swain County Heritage Museum in the 1908 Courthouse on the Square.

Mountain Biking — Bryson City is centrally located to ride sixteen great trails in the mountains, including the world-renowned Tsali Recreation Area. Whether you are a beginner, an adventure racer or somewhere in between, off-road bicycling in far western North Carolina offers something for everyone. Tsali Cycles is a full-service bike shop as well as offering bike rentals and other outdoor gear with a staff that can help you find the perfect trail and provide you with maps to get you there. PDF of Area Trails.

Mountain Tubing – Mountain tubing can be an easy float or a wild, whitewater ride. Western North Carolina has two great tubing runs and both are near Bryson City. Both Deep Creek and the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee have crystal clear water that originates in springs bubbling up and filtering through the ferns and moss in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tubing companies generally operate from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. For more information see Tubing the Smokies

Hiking — With more than 800 miles of trails, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hiker’s paradise. With 40% of the Park in Swain County, many National Park trails are easily accessible from Bryson City. You’ll find a number of hiking trails in the Deep Creek area of the Park, just two miles north of town, and also off Lakeview Drive (the 'Road to Nowhere') six miles north of Bryson City. Some of the most spectacular hikes are to the many waterfalls in the area. Carolina Bound Adventures has expert guide sand offer some unique waterfall hikes. All Park trails map (pdf)

Whitewater Rafting — The most popular in the Southeast is the scenic Nantahala luring more than 200,000 paddlers to its waters every year. A perfect combination of exciting whitewater and placid pools, the Nantahala is a great introduction to the sport of whitewater paddling. Our partner, Wildwater, can help you plan the perfect trip for you and your group.

Cherokee Indian Reservation — 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. Cherokee also boasts the longest running outdoor drama in the United States, telling the Cherokees’ rich story from 1780 to the twenty-first century. It is presented in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater and should not be missed. For more information see "Unto Theses Hills" Outdoor Drama.

Fishing is big in Swain County. So big, in fact, that it has its own website – This comprehensive guide to fishing in the NC Smokies features a map and descriptions of twenty-six fishing destinations — mountain trout streams, creeks, rivers and two large lakes. These waters offer more than 17 sporting species from trout to bass to Muskie. A 2.2-mile stretch of Delayed Harvest Trout Waters runs through downtown Bryson City. To plan your Fly Fishing experience, visit our partner Fly Fishing the Smokies for the best guides in the area. 

Stand-up Paddleboarding is available on Fontana Lake and on the Tuckasegee River in downtown Bryson City. More information

MotorcyclingThe Deals Gap Dragon (US 129), with 318 curves in 11 miles, is America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road.

Horseback Riding – You will be guided in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along mountain trails, to beautiful waterfalls and just to enjoy the serenity of nature with family and friends. Smokemont Riding Stable

Zip Lines —Wildwater built the first Canopy Zip Tour in the Nantahala Gorge, and is still the place to come to experience the excitement of zipping, and the beauty of views from high above the treetops. Their fully-guided trips will teach you everything you need to know about this exciting activity, from safety to how to wring the most fun possible out of multiple zip lines and sky bridges! Their KidZip offers a zipping experience for kids 4-12.  Book your Wildwater Zip-line tour through us and receive $10.00 off your first night stay. 

Golf — Bryson City offers two 18-hole mountain golf courses: Smoky Mountain Country Club and Sequoyah National Golf Club.

Looking for festivals, live music and other events? Check Bryson City's Event Calendar.

McKinley Edwards Inn
208 Arlington Avenue
Bryson City, North Carolina 28713


McKinley Edwards Inn was formerly the Charleston Inn.
©  McKinley Edwards Inn

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