Cherokee, North Carolina vs. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Unlike it’s counterpart Tennessee city, Gatlinburg, it is much quieter. Where Gatlinburg TN, at the northern border of the park, is very fast-paced with lots of lights, a constant flow of improvements and investment, Cherokee NC has a quiet, more antique feel because the tribal members own all of the land within the Cherokee boundary and have not encouraged outside investments. So, there’s been very little improvement and change in the area in many years. If you visit both towns, you’ll get a good idea of the contrast that exists between the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the national park.
You should also understand that Cherokee NC has a lot to offer the mountain traveler. The southern directions to the town (via US 441 through the Park or north from Atlanta) or US Hwy 19 (from Bryson City) will bring you quickly to the downtown area of Cherokee. If you’ve ever visited Cherokee at any time since the mid 1950s, you’ll quickly recognize the souvenir stands and the stuffed bear shops. You can still locate the “chiefs” in full colorful regalia as they stand in front of tepees waiting for their pictures to be taken–expect to leave a tip for the privilege.
In an area of Cherokee that features the old government buildings from the 1930s and 1940s, you’ll find The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.
Cherokee NC Lodging
Lodging in Cherokee consists of either a cabin or a hotel (nearly 2,600 rooms available). There are some newer franchise hotels here, but if you want a luxury-quality lodge, you might try The Swag in nearby Waynesville, NC, or the Cataloochee Ranch or a bed and breakfast in nearby Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
We recommend choosing a cabin rental in the area and enjoying a relaxing stay in the heart of the mountains!
If you want to leave a little money in Cherokee, have some fun by visiting the local Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. There are no live games however; only video-style games and machines. Better yet, drive a short distance into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and enjoy the picnicking, nature walks, hiking, fishing and horseback riding. A short drive further into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and you can visit Mingus Mill, a 19th century gristmill that is still in operation. You can even buy fresh ground cornmeal there.