Spend a fabulous day in Bryson City, Swain County and the surrounding mountains with waterfalls, food and shopping. It's just a 90-minute (70 mile) drive southwest of Asheville. This is paradise for outdoor and nature lovers. It's the whitewater rafting mecca for North Carolina, with the Nantahala River cascading through the beautiful Nantahala Gorge and Nantahala National Forest. ABC’s Good Morning America’s “Vacationland” series named the Nantahala River the number one place to spend a wet and wild vacation in the U.S. It's also home to the World Freestyle Kayaking Championships in 2013.
Roughly 40% of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in Swain County.
Less than three miles from downtown Bryson City, the Deep Creek recreational area of the Park offers activities including camping, hiking, trout fishing and the area’s best whitewater tubing. Deep Creek is probably best known for its three waterfalls — Juney Whank, Toms Branch and Indian Creek falls. The Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum marks another entrance into the Great Smoky Mountains.
Fontana Dam, the highest dam east of the Rockies, is 480 feet high and stretches 2,365 feet across the Little Tennessee River. The Appalachian Trail, which extends more than 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, crosses the top of Fontana Dam.
After you walk across the dam, stop at the Fontana Dam Visitor Center is open to from 9 AM to 7 PM
daily from May through November. Fontana Lake provides 238 miles of shoreline and 10,230 acres of water surface for recreation activities. There are many trails along the shores of Fontana Lake, land owned by either the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service. Mountain bikers flock to the world-famous Tsali Recreation Area trail system, 15 miles west of Bryson City. The 42-mile network of multi-use trails is consistently rated one of the top ten riding destinations in the United States.
The Stecoah Valley Artisans Gallery showcases the work of the 50-plus members of the Stecoah Artisans Guild, a juried membership organization, as well as the Associate artists of the Guild.
Nearby is Cherokee with Harrahs Casino and many attractions.
Major Bryson City / Swain County Events
February: Chocolate Cookoff
March: Bank of America US Whitewater Open
April: Green Thumb Day, Knobscorcher Bike Race
May: West Swain VFD Bass Tournament, Strawberry Jam, Twelve Hours of Tsali, Heritage Festival
June: Music in the Mountains Series, Cherokee Voices Festival, Women's Work Festival (GSMNP)
July: Music in the Mountains Series, Freedom Fest, Festival of Native Peoples,
August: Music in the Mountains Series
September: Music in the Mountains Series, Horace Kephart Days, Freestyle Kayaking World Cup, SE Tribes Celebration, Mountain Life Festival (GSMNP)
October: Music in the Mountains Series, Cherokee Indian Fair, Stecoah Harvest Festival, Maple Leaf Festival, Bryson City Chili Cookoff
November: The Polar Express, WNC Pottery Festival, Mountain Shapes & Colors
December: The Polar Express, Christmas Parade, Spirit of Christmas