Jackson County Top 30 Things to Do

Jackson County Top 30 Things to Do

Beautiful Jackson County is west of Asheville and includes the towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Lake Glenville (pic above) and Sapphire. In addition to great small towns to visit, explore the unspoiled Nantahala National Forest with hiking, fishing, rafting and waterfall hunting in the North Carolina mountains.

It is home to the final stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway with more than 40 miles of uncrowded scenic beauty. From Devil's Courthouse to Cherokee, this is the highest section of the Parkway. Stop and hike at Richland Balsam Overlook, the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway at 6,053 ft. elevation. Also, hike to the top of Waterrock Knob with sunset views over the Great Smoky Mountains. Recently, it's the film location for several movies, including Three Billboards Outside Ebbing.

Whiteside Mountain NC
Whiteside Mountain Hike

Discover More!
Go to the Jackson County website for more attractions and great places to stay, including the great small towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire.

Jackson County Things to Do

Sylva
Sylva
Home to NC's most photographed courthouse, perched on a hill overlooking the busy historic Main Street. It's home to the annual Greening Up the Mountain festival and Concerts on the Creek summer weekly concerts. Try some local beers at their breweries after a day of fly fishing. 
Cashiers NC
Cashiers
Shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants center around the Village Green with outdoor sculpture, walking paths and gardens. Find a sophisticated arts and music scene. Nearby are Silver Run Falls and Lake Glenville.
Dillsboro
Dillsboro
This artsy village is just a few miles from Sylva. On the banks of the Tuckasegee River. Dillsboro has been a tourist stop since the late 1800s. Although it's a tiny village, find an impressive mix of specialty shops and galleries representing many local artists. Go to many art festivals. Many arrive by train on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad on an excursion.
Cherokee
Cherokee
Home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, find a large variety of ways to experience the Indian heritage. Tour the museum and Indian Village and watch "Unto These Hills." Shop for local crafts, see their painted bears, attend a pow wow or try your luck at the huge Harrah's Casino. It's also a major gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
High Hampton Inn
This historic mountain inn is reminiscent of the great summer resorts of the Adirondacks. Located on 1,400 acres, the property offers golf and tennis, hiking trails and a 35-acre lake for swimming, boating and fishing. Not to mention a European spa! Special seasonal events include workshops, house parties and summer children's... read more
Lake Glenville & Signal Ridge Marina
Lake Glenville
This pristine reservoir near Cashiers has the highest elevation of any lake east of the Mississippi. Signal Ridge Marina rents a variety of Bennington pontoons and tritoons, as well as tubes, paddleboards, skis, wakeboards and kneeboards. There's even a beach!
Jackson County Ale Trail
Jackson County Ale Trail
For a more laid back, small town beer adventure, head to Sylva’s Main Street. Visit three breweries along a scenic one-mile walk, with plenty of places to shop and eat along the way. Sample brews at Sneak E Squirrel, Balsam Falls and Innovation Brewing.
Panthertown Valley
Panthertown Valley
This remote area of the national forest is home to many waterfalls. In addition to the popular Schoolhouse Falls, see our hikes to Greenland Creek Falls, Wilderness Falls and Frolictown Falls.
Schoolhouse Falls
Schoolhouse Falls
(2.5-mile round-trip hike, easy) The cascade in Panthertown Valley in Nantahala National Forest is small, but really big on beauty with a great pool for a splash.
Silver Run Falls
Silver Run Falls
Near Cashiers in Nantahala National Forest is a beautiful 25-ft. waterfall that cascades into a family-friendly pool with a small, sandy beach. A short walk from roadside parking.
Jackson County Places to Stay
Jackson County Places to Stay
Choose from historic B&Bs, mountaintop log cabins, lakeside resorts and camping in the great outdoors in the Sylva, Dillsboro and Cashiers areas. Find a mountain getaway for any budget. Pic: High Hampton Inn. 
High Falls
High Falls at Lake Glenville
(1.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) Also known as Cullowhee Falls, this 150-ft. waterfall at Lake Glenville near Cashiers becomes the most powerful a few days of the year when extra water is released from the dam for kayakers. A new hiking trail takes you to the base for a great view.
Whiteside Mountain
Whiteside Mountain
(2-mile loop hike, moderate) A landmark in the Nantahala National Forest, located between Cashiers and Highlands, Whiteside rises to an elevation of 4,930 ft.. A loop trail takes you to the top of sheer 750-ft. high cliffs (plenty of railings for safety) with outstanding views.
Jackson County Energy Park
Jackson County Green Energy Park
Tour this fascinating arts facility that is powered by methane gas captured from the old town landfill, providing heat for blacksmith forges, metal foundry, glassblowing, greenhouses and heating. Their gallery features art made on-site.
Cat Museum
American Museum of the House Cat
New in 2017! See a fascinating collection of 10,000+ cat-related curiosities, including many rare and fascinating antiques, collected by "CatMan2" for the past 20 years. One of the few museums in the country dedicated to felines. Near Dillsboro.
Upper Whitewater Falls
Upper Whitewater Falls
See the upper section of the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, plunging 411 ft.! The best part is that you can get a great view with a short walk. The walkway begins at the end of the parking lot and is accessible to wheelchairs. A lower overlook is located at the bottom of 154 wooden steps.
Fly Fishing Trail NC
Western NC Fly Fishing Trail
Welcome to the first fly fishing trail in the United States with the best 15 spots for catching brook, brown and rainbow trout. With 92,800 fish stocked in its waters annually, Jackson County was named North Carolina Trout Capital. See detailed maps and fishing reports. 
Dill Falls NC
Dill Falls and Upper Dill Falls
(1 mile round-trip, easy) Hike to two waterfalls, Upper and Lower Dill Falls, via easy walks from the end of a forest service road deep in Nantahala National Forest. 4.6 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Soco Falls
Soco Falls
This rare twin waterfall is located roadside near Maggie Valley and Cherokee. You can easily miss it since there are few signs! The observation deck is a short walk from a small parking area. You can also hike down to the base of both falls.
Blue Ridge Parkway Top 50
Blue Ridge Parkway Top 50
Drive the Parkway north or south from Asheville and quickly climb the Blue Ridge Mountain ridge. You can reach elevations of 5,000+ ft. Our mile-by-mile guide of the Parkway covers the 193-mile section near Asheville. So many things to do along one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from Bryson City. First-class passengers enjoy dining and souvenirs. Many special event train rides.
Waterfall Byway: US Highway 64
Waterfall Byway: US Highway 64
Drive 98 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, through charming towns and by plenty of beautiful waterfalls. Begin in Chimney Rock and travel west on U.S. Highway 64 by Lake Toxaway and through Cashiers and Highlands. Stop at roadside waterfalls Dry Falls and Bridal Veil as you enter the Cullasaja River Gorge. The last section is also called Mountain Waters Scenic Byway.
Richland Balsam
Richland Balsam
(1.5-mile loop, easy) Hike the top of the highest summit along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the cool forest. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 431.
Tuckasegee River Rafting
Tuckasegee River Rafting & Tubing
Ride down the family-friendly rapids of the "Tuck" in a raft, inflatable kayak or tub in Jackson County - near Dillsboro and Sylva. Outfitters offer a variety of guided and self-guided river trips. 
Waterrock Knob
Waterrock Knob
(2.4 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the summit (6,292 ft.) of the 16th highest mountain in the eastern United States. Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 451.
Harrahs Cherokee
Enjoy a luxurious experience in a spacious room that includes plenty of amenities. This 21-story hotel includes a covered parking deck and views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Dine at your choice of five restaurants. Great mid-week rates available. 1108 rooms, large baths, coffeemaker, 42-inch HD TV, casino, spa, indoor pool,... read more
The Pinnacle, Sylva
The Pinnacle
(7 miles round-trip, strenuous) Hike to the top of The Pinnacle for views looking down into Sylva and the surrounding valley. Climb 1,800 ft. in elevation with a steady grade.
Judaculla Rock
Judaculla Rock
See petroglyphs created by Cherokee Indians 1,500 years ago on a boulder near Sylva and Western Carolina University. The small outdoor park is open every day.
Grimshawes Post Office
Smallest Post Office in USA
See the country's smallest post office, located roadside near Cashiers and open every day. Fun photo spot! Also see nearby Zachary-Tolbert House.
Best Western Hotel Dillsboro
Relax and get away from it all while experiencing breathtaking views on the Tuckasegee River. From your spacious riverside room, watch as rafters make their way down the river. Amenities include a full hot breakfast, high-speed WiFi, heated indoor pool and spa, riverside deck and fitness center. 65 rooms and suites, $120-$300, cable TV with... read more
Holiday Inn Express Sylva
Conveniently located off of Highway 441/74, rediscover the beauty of nature as you relax in the indoor heated pool or spa and gaze out over the majestic Great Smoky Mountains. Minutes from Western Carolina University, Harrah's Cherokee Casino and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 67 rooms, $100-$280, king or queen beds, WiFi, free parking.... read more
Sylva NC Concerts
Concerts on the Creek
Unwind on Fridays Memorial Day through Labor Day with live music outdoors in downtown Sylva. Shows are 7-9 PM at the Bridge Park. It's just two blocks from Main Street with shops, restaurants and breweries (come early!). Family friendly with a big variety of music. Bring a chair or blanket. Free. 
Sylva July 4th
Sylva July 4th Concert & Fireworks
Enjoy concerts and fireworks in a picturesque all-American small town! Live music begins at 4 PM with dancing until 9:30 PM at the Bridge Park Pavilion. Stroll Main Street's shops, restaurants and breweries. Fireworks begin at dark. Free. 
Jackson County Guide
Jackson County Mountains Guide
Order a free visitors guide for the Sylva, Dillsboro, Lake Glenville, Cherokee and Cashiers areas, including info on fly fishing, hikes and waterfalls in Jackson County, NC.

Top Festivals

Easter Hat Parade in Dillsboro
Easter Hat Parade in Dillsboro
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Old hat, new hat, yellow hat, blue hat. They're all welcome at Dillsboro's annual Easter Hat Parade at 2 PM, showcasing a variety of interesting hats atop participants of all ages, including pets.
Greening Up the Mountains Festival
Greening Up the Mountains Festival
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Celebrate the arrival of spring with this downtown Sylva street festival, about an hour's drive west of Asheville.
Front Street Arts Festival
Front Street Arts & Crafts Show
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Stroll down the main street in artsy Dillsboro and see works 40 of the best regional artisans, along with family entertainment and festival food. Many galleries, too. 10 AM-4 PM. 
Dillsboro Art Festival
Summer Arts and Crafts Market
Saturday, August 19, 2017
More than 40 local artists display and demo their arts and crafts in artsy Dillsboro, 10 AM-4 PM. Plus, live music, food and hands-on activities. 
Mountain Heritage Day
Mountain Heritage Day
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Held on the campus of Western Carolina University, this long-running outdoors celebration features the sights, sounds, crafts and flavors of yesteryear. Get a taste of southern Appalachian culture, art and music. 10 AM-5 PM. Free. 
Cashiers Leaf Festival
Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival
Friday, October 6, 2017 to Sunday, October 8, 2017
Held on the Village Green in the middle of Cashiers at peak color time, see the works of 100+ artists while enjoying live music and great food. The free festival is open 10 AM-5 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Dillsboro Colorfest
Colorfest Arts Fest in Dillsboro
Saturday, October 7, 2017
This colorful festival features more than 40 vendors of fine arts and crafts, food and entertainment along Front Street in artsy Dillsboro. Browse many galleries and studios too. Free admission. 10 AM-4 PM. 
Western North Carolina Pottery Festival
Western North Carolina Pottery Festival
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Meet 45 master potters from 17 states as they come together in Dillsboro for this premier art event. Buy amazing creations that you will treasure for a lifetime.
Dillsboro Festival of Lights & Luminaries
Dillsboro Festival of Lights & Luminaries
Friday, December 1, 2017 to Saturday, December 2, 2017
Experience the magic as the entire town is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights, candles, laughter and song! Shopkeepers provide live music and serve holiday treats with hot cider and cocoa.

Watch this highlights video from Jackson County!

More Things To Do

Water Fun: Swimming, sailing, water skiing, boating, tubing, whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing are all available in Jackson County. There are four whitewater rivers, the Tuckasegee, Chattooga, Oconaluftee and the nearby Nantahala, with difficulty ranging from Class I to Class VI. Commercial companies rent rafts, canoes, kayaks and tubes. Canoes and boat rentals are available on Lake Glenville

The Vordach Zip Line Adventurers of all ages can enjoy an exciting and picturesque experience at The Vordach above Ski Sapphire Valley. 8-11-year-old beginners can work their way to the top on a green course while 12+ ages take a full scenic canopy tour through the treetops.

Ski Sapphire Valley: Ski or snowboard down the slopes in Sapphire Valley. The resort offers lifts, rentals, ski school and more. Snow tube at Frozen Falls Tube Park at the resort and stay at one of the lodging options for the weekend to enjoy a winter wonderland with the family.

Smoky Mountain River Adventures: Located on Highway 74 West outside of Dillsboro, find fun for the whole family at Tuckasegee River Trips. The perfect place for groups to enjoy the water on rafts, kayaks, double kayaks or tubes. Raft in the morning then enjoy tubing or hiking one of the recommended trails during the rest of the day.

Carolina Outfitters Whitewater Rafting Enjoy the scenic splendor of the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains as you paddle the clean cold waters of the Nantahala or Ocoee River. With class II, III and IV whitewater rapids, the river is fun and exciting but does not require previous experience. Paddlers of all levels enjoy the journey. The river is dam-controlled and there is a good, dependable water supply for whitewater rafting all season long!

Innovation Brewing: Truly innovating, these brewers experiment with a variety of fun and fresh ingredients always ready to stimulate the palate and senses of visitors coming in for a pint. Located in Sylva, this brewery certainly specializes in beer with 22 beers on tap and brewery merchandise to match.

Western Carolina University is a member of the University of North Carolina system, with 9,000 students in the small town of Cullowhee. For visitors, their Fine and Performing Arts Center is an exciting cultural arts and art education destination with world-class performers and artists. The Fine Art Museum includes nearly 10,000 ft. of exhibit space featuring a growing permanent collection, an exciting schedule of contemporary art and fine crafts, and related interdisciplinary education programs.

Discover More!
Go to the Jackson County website for more attractions and great places to stay, including Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire.

Enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway by exploring some of its many hiking trails near Asheville. There’s a big variety of hikes, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous... read more
The remake of the movie Dirty Dancing that aired on ABC in May 2017 was filmed at the High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, Jackson County (... read more
The feature movie "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" was filmed in several locations near Asheville, including many days in downtown Sylva (mostly May 2-20, 2016).... read more