Blue Ridge Outdoors Top Towns: Cherokee, N.C.

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One of the several gateway communities of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and headquarters for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee is the ideal launch pad for adventure in the Smokies.

Public lands in the area include the Nantahala National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the largest protected area in Appalachia, with more bears per square mile than any other spot in the country. Mingus Mill and the Mountain Farm Museum are located at the Smokies visitor center near Cherokee.

Cherokee also provides easy access to both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail, often serving as a waypoint for trail weary thru-hikers. Flowing right through town is the Ocunaluftee River, popular for tubing and fishing, and just down the road is the Nantahala River, with class III-IV whitewater, and Tsali Recreation Area, a world-class mountain biking destination.

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DID YOU KNOW? Tsali was the renegade Cherokee leader who fought back against the military roundups of Native Americans who were forcible marched on the Trail of Tears.

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