Drives & Views

Cherokee's Two National Parks

Did you know that Cherokee is bordered by two national parks? We're best-known for the North Carolina half of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But we're also the southern gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park.

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) both Newfound Gap and the Clingman's Dome Observation Tower, with its 360-degree view of the mountains, are the best spots for long-range vistas.


 

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles from Cherokee to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The Parkway was designed for a leisurely drive with plenty of pullovers to enjoy the incomparable views. Yet it's the southernmost section of the Parkway, near Cherokee, that provides some of the most spectacular vistas. Blue Ridge Parkway map (PDF)

Two overlooks near Cherokee are among the most popular. Richard Balsam Knob (mile marker 431), the highest point on the entire Blue Ridge Parkway, is a favorite of sunset watchers. Enjoy stunning views of the Great Smokies right from the parking lot at Waterrock Knob (mile marker 451.2), which sits at nearly 6,000 feet elevation.

And Just a Short Drive Away...
About an hour west of Cherokee, in Graham County, are two natural gems —

The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest offers a two-mile walk through an old-growth virgin forest with giant Hemlocks and Poplars.

Nearby, the 36-mile Cherohala Skyway, connecting Robbinsville and Tellico Plains, Tennessee, provides views that rival the Blue Ridge Parkway. Near Tellico Plains, take the 5-mile side trip (FS Road 210) to the 100-foot high Bald River Falls. This spectacular cascade can be viewed from your car.

Blue Ridge Parkway
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Recorded Park Information
828-298-0398

Park Headquarters
828-271-4779

Road Closure Information
865-436-1200 ext 631