Cherokee Field Trip
Thank you so much to our guest poster and 828 lover Jessica G! Please read on for her Cherokee NC adventure.
Recently my family and I traveled for a short little visit into the different 828 zone (eek!) of Nantahala, NC. The word “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun”. Because of its location, the sun only rises over the surrounding mountains for approximately three hours each day, but the views were spectacular! The leaves were already peaking, and the kids couldn’t believe the beautiful colors surrounding us. We stayed at a wonderful campground by the name of Nelson’s Nantahala Hideaway www.nantahalacampground.com. The cabins were quaint, and the babbling brook that ran alongside our cabin made a delightful sound as we nestled into complete and utter isolation. No cell service, no wifi – just family time.
Our first excursion took us to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (aka “NOC”), where we found great shopping, gorgeous riverside dining, and the beginnings of many great adventures! From the NOC, you can find rafting, kayaking, zip lining, jet boat rides, mountain biking and hiking excursions. Unfortunately, we have a small one in our family so that adventure stuff will have to wait for us. Instead, we enjoyed the river view and some amazing food at River’s End Restaurant. The menu was not overwhelming, and the prices were very reasonable. Best butternut squash soup and pumpkin ale around!
From there, we made the thirty minute journey to the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, NC. Cherokee is the gateway to both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views were unreal! We spent a couple hours touring the village and getting a real feel of how our native American neighbors lived. The kids really enjoyed touring the huts, and we all ended up with arrowhead necklaces. From there, we cruised through the town of Cherokee where I could have spent hours shopping in the quaint stores lining the road with local crafts, but my kids vetoed shopping. We did however enjoy the beautifully decorated bears dispersed throughout the village.
After a short drive, we landed at the Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center, where we found a beautiful old farm to tour and an easy hiking trail by the Oconaluftee river. The center was located in a valley and we were stunned by the beautiful mountains surrounding us. The kids loved running through the Mountain Farm Museum. We decided to take leisurely stroll on the trail by the river, and just take in nature. As we walked, we encountered a young bull elk (yes, elk!) perusing the trail ahead of us. Unsure of what to do, my boys crouched behind a tree, and I took our youngest closer to the river and out of the path of the elk. As my children sat in complete silence, this young bull meandered toward my family, bent his head and sniffed my kids! It was an exchange my children will never forget.
If you like to hike, bike, float, ride, kayak or just be, plan a trip today!