Just 50 miles from Asheville is Cherokee, located in Jackson County at the main North Carolina entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (via US Highway 441) and home to Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation and many things to do. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation is one of the only three federally recognized Cherokee tribes. There are about 13,400 Eastern Band of Cherokee members, most of whom live on the Reservation. Properly called the Qualla Boundary, the Reservation is slightly more than 56,000 acres held in trust by the federal government.
They welcome all visitors with many free things to do and see. Learn the story of the Cherokee people from the Cherokee in several outstanding museums, a legendary outdoor drama and at several festivals.
Browse the many shops, clustered in several areas of town. Stock up on your mocassins, plastic tomahawks and mini totem poles. Or fine quality Cherokee crafts such as Cherokee Indian pottery, baskets and beadwork; as well as other locally made gifts such as dream catchers, dolls and woodcrafts. Also find a variety of home furnishings and leather goods, including handbags, belts, backpacks, hats and wallets; as well as biker apparel such as vests, jackets and chaps.
As the Oconaluftee River passes through Cherokee, it is split by a beautiful, grassy island. It's home to the Oconaluftee Islands Park – sheltered by canopies of oak and sycamore. Beautiful walking bridges connect the island. Wade in the water, have a picnic, or sit by the relaxing river. Find is along U.S. Highway 441. Go bear hunting throughout the town. Eastern Band of Cherokee artists have created a series of large, life-like fiberglass bears and painted them in bright vibrant colors and designs.
The impressive Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee and is open 24-hours-a-day. Harrah's Cherokee includes a 1,108 room hotel, conference center, a 3000-seat events center, the Essence Lounge, food court, and Chef's Stage Buffet. See our Harrah's Cherokee Casino Guide for more.
Cherokee Things to Do
Cherokee is just 52 miles from Asheville via I-40 West to Exit 27, then U.S. 19 to U.S. 441 in Cherokee (just over an hour's drive) via Maggie Valley. Or you can take the more scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, but this could take three to four hours. A great day trip is to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cherokee and return the faster way via I-40.