Have you memories of a shimmering lake, crisp earth, twinkling stars, and sweet smells of a campfire? They will be revitalized with a visit to Lake Santeetlah. Nestled in the Smokey Mountains of Western North Carolina and surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, Lake Santeetlah is an unspoiled treasure. With over seventy miles of protected shoreline, Lake Santeetlah's 3,000 acres are a serene reminder of the beauty nature has to offer. A shining example of conservation and stewardship, Lake Santeetlah will remain shielded from the intrusive world for generations to come. Offering year round high levels of refreshing mountain water, due to stringent governmental licensing, Lake Santeetlah provides an ideal place to swim, canoe, kayak, and fish or the perfect backdrop to do nothing at all.
A walk through Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is a journey back in time through a magnificent forest with towering trees as old as 400 years. Some enormous yellow-poplars are over 20 feet in circumference and stand 100 feet tall. The floor is carpeted with a garden of wildflowers, ferns, and moss-covered logs from fallen giants. The only way to see the impressive memorial forest is on foot. The figure-eight Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail covers 2 miles and has two loops: the 1¼-mile lower loop passes the Joyce Kilmer Memorial plaque, and the upper ¾-mile loop swings through Poplar Cove, a grove of the largest trees. The trailhead parking area has a flush toilet and picnic tables. No camping or overnight parking is allowed. The memorial forest is beautiful in all seasons. Many wildflower show off their blooms in the spring before tree leaves open and shade the forest floor. Summer is wet, green, and lush -- a time when the forest is noticeably cooler than the parking area. Fall signals the gradual color change from greens to red, orange, yellow, and maroon. Then the leaves fall revealing the 'bones' of the mountains.
This 11 mile stretch of Hwy 129 serves as the International meeting place for cycle enthusist. With more than 318 curves, multiple switchbacks, hills, accentuating some of the most beautiful views this side of Saturn, you're assured of a wonderful time whether you're in a car or a motorcycle. Another riding road is the Cherohala Skyway - Visit in the fall when vibrant vermillion, golden, and orange leaves drape the trees surrounding the Skyway. Or plan a leisurely summer road trip, leaving plenty of time for picnics, hikes, fishing or many of the other activities available on the Cherohala Skyway. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails traversing the national forests, you're bound to find a favorite. Botany lovers will want to whip out their sketchbooks to capture in ink some of the 2,000 native plant species that thrive around the Cherohala Skyway. Catch your breath by pausing to admire the wildflowers sprinkled throughout the landscape in the spring. You can find out why Nantahala National Forest means land of the noonday sun or the Cherokee National Forest is sometimes seen as 'Land of the Waterfalls'.
Cheoah River Whitewater Rafting offers some awesome whitewater adventures on this world class river. This Class 4 rapids river will test your paddling skills and you will be guaranteed to get wet. Adventures on this river make life long memories for your family.
The highest dam in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system, Fontana Dam ranks among the most beautiful in the world. Surrounded by the extraordinary beauty of the Smoky Mountains, the adjacent national forests, and deep river gorges.
South of the Smokies on the Appalachian Trail are the long climbs of the Stecoah-Cheoah Mountain area, then the outstanding Nantahala section, with 4,000-foot gaps and 5,000-foot peaks. Cheoah Bald offers panoramic views of western North Carolina. Like much of the A.T. in the deep South, you have a feeling of remoteness, and a sensation of being in deep forests. The variety of forest growth and the beauty of the flowering shrubs, along with the many spectacular views, make this entire section of Trail memorable.
The section from the Nantahala River to the Georgia border features the best-graded trail at high elevations anywhere in the Deep South, with a couple of short exceptions.
Cherokee history runs deep in these hills. Soldiers, acting under orders from President Andrew Jackson to remove all the Cherokee to Oklahoma, told Indians living in what was known as the Cheoah Valley to gather at a stockade on what is now known as Fort Hill in Robbinsville. A visit to the Junaluska Museum is a must.