Feeling Great in Bryson City!
Tucked cozily alongside the Tuckasegee river and on the south side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Bryson City, North Carolina. It’s a quaint, small town with the same hip vibe of nearby Asheville. Bryson City is sort of like a modern-day Mayberry and prides itself on being non-touristy.
Begin your adventure in Bryson City with a stop at the historic Swain County Courthouse where the town’s Visitor Center is housed along with a museum that can be found on the upper floor.
Things to do in Bryson City
Experience the nostalgia and adventure of a by-gone time with a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Climb aboard the historic Murphy Branch line, which played an important role in bringing the Industrial Age to these isolated mountains. You can choose from first-class seating with dining, a restored vintage coach, or an open air gondola for your travel. Catch the train at the historic Depot in downtown for your choice of an excursion along the Tuckasegee River or the Nantahala Gorge. There are regular trips to Nantahala Outdoor Center in Wesser, North Carolina for whitewater rafting and kayaking.
The small, walkable downtown area boasts several artsy, boutique shops as well as a couple of old-fashioned general stores. There’s quite a variety of neat, little restaurants from which to choose. A favorite restaurant is Cork & Bean, known for their delicious, savory crepes.
Many hiking trails can be found on the edge Bryson City in the Great Smoky Mountains. Take the famous Road to Nowhere and explore the Gold Mine Loop trail or take walk to one of the many sparkling waterfalls in the Deep Creek area.
Nearby Fontana Lake offers boating, skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking and more. Check with the nearby Fontana Village Marina for help making plans for your lake fun.
Fontana Lake offers a variety of fishing possibilities that differ from other areas near the park. Fishing licenses are required and may be obtained at North Carolina Fishing Licenses. If trout fishing is your passion you can catch your limit in Bryson City. Fishing has been a mainstay on the Tuckasegee River for centuries. The Deep Creek area is a nearby tributary of the Tuckasegee offering fishing on a free flowing stream within the National Park.
Directions to Bryson City
From Cherokee – travel 10.2 miles west on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway/Highway 74.
From Nantahala Outdoor Center – travel 17 miles east on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway/Highway 74.
From Gatlinburg – take Highway 441 for 30 miles south to Cherokee NC. From Cherokee drive 10.2 miles west on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway/Highway 74.
History of Bryson City
This mountain region has been inhabited by humans predating the Cherokee Nation. The abundance of aquatic, plant and animal life in the river waters provide sustenance for residents and visitors even today. This area has been touched by events great and small. If trees could talk they would tell of the forced removal of the Cherokee and their eventual return. They would whisper of the national effort to build Fontana Dam in record time helping power the industry that won WWII. The trees could share stories of former residents like author Horace Kephart who was instrumental in the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Take the time to experience Bryson City and add your own story to its mountain history.