Bordering the southern side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Bryson City, North Carolina is a laid-back, non-touristy, small town with more stop signs than stoplights. Venture a few minutes from this quiet downtown, and you’ll find a vast outdoor playground for whitewater rafting and kayaking, creek tubing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, zip lines, scenic drives, waterfalls, and more. Like your outdoors a little more indoors? Sight-see in a historic railroad car along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. There are more than ten reasons to visit this great friends and family vacation spot; here’s a taste of what awaits three hours north of Atlanta.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s half-million acres are equally divided between Tennessee and North Carolina. With roughly 40 percent of the Park in Swain County, Bryson City is the ideal spot to explore the Smokies. Visit Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Park; tour the Mountain Farm Museum & Mingus Mill and spot some elk; travel the Road to Nowhere; walk the Appalachian Trail; and catch a breathtaking sunrise or sunset.
Known for waterfalls, hiking, swimming, picnicking, camping, mountain biking, creek tubing, and fly fishing – Deep Creek has more fun things to do than any other area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Bryson City is home to an eclectic group of artisans who create unique works to preserve Western North Carolina’s arts heritage. You’ll find working basket makers, artists, and potters as well as galleries with local and regionally handcrafted jewelry, photography, wood turned pieces, wine and cheese, natural soaps, and more.
Swain County has one of the most diverse fishing habitats in the world with four rivers, dozens of mountain streams, and the deep, cold waters of Fontana Lake. The section of the Tuckasegee River that flows through downtown Bryson City is designated Delayed Harvest and has one of the highest trout counts of any waters in the Southeast.
Based in Bryson City, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad operates scenic rail excursions through our remote corner of North Carolina. Family-themed event trains include the Easter Beagle Express, Great Pumpkin Patch Express, July 4 Freedom Train, the Wizard of Oz, and Polar Express. Special dinner trains include BBQ & Brews and Railroad Reserve wine train. The Carolina Shine all-adult, first class car “runs” moonshine on every Nantahala Gorge ride.
The scenic Nantahala River as the most popular whitewater rafting river in the Southeast luring more than 200,000 paddlers to its waters every year. A perfect combination of exciting whitewater and placid pools, the Nantahala is a great introduction to the sport of whitewater paddling. But don’t get the wrong idea. Just because the river is suitable for families doesn’t mean it’s not exciting. It’s also challenging enough to host many national and international slalom and freestyle kayaking championships.
Enjoy dining indoors by candlelight, on a deck in town, or on the Nantahala River. Bryson City has a variety of restaurant choices — from southern home cooking, hickory-smoked barbecue, piled-high deli sandwiches, wood-fired pizzas and juicy hamburgers — to ethnic foods like Italian and Mexican. Find local beers on tap around town and at our local brewery.
Tsali Recreation Area is a 42-mile network of moderately difficult multi-use bike trails. Consistently rated a “world class” single track mountain biking experience, the area is home to several nationally recognized biking events. No bike? No problem. All Bryson City bike shops have rentals.
On any given weekend, June – October you’ll find live music at the train depot, the brewery, and several restaurants in Bryson City. Local and regional favorites play a variety of genres – bluegrass, old-time country, acoustic blues, rock and roll, reggae, island music, dulcimer music, roots country, Celtic ballads, and more.
Whether you are planning a romantic getaway or a large family reunion, Bryson City has plenty of lodging options, from familiar hotel chains to mom & pop motels, to boutique hotels, unique B&Bs and inns, to mountain cabins, condos, and campgrounds.