Nearly half of the National Park lies in North Carolina and it's just a short drive away via several different access routes.
Balsam Mountain Campground
At 5,310 feet, this is the highest developed campground in the Smokies. Nearby, a self-guiding nature trail wanders three quarters of a mile through the majestic alpine forest.
At nearly a mile high in the sky, this overlook is a wonderful spot to spread out a blanket for an unforgettable picnic. Balsam Mountain Road, leading to the overlook and the campground, is closed from November through May.
Deep Creek may well have been the site of the first Cherokee village. Set among blossoming dogwoods beside the creek near Bryson City, the site contains a campground and picnic area. Indian Creek Falls, Tom's Branch Falls and Juneywhank Falls, which means "place where the bear passes," are all close by
Bordered by the National Park, Nantahala and Joyce Kilmer National Forests, this community was built in the 1930s to house the engineers, officials and workers who came to construct Fontana Dam. The dam on the Little Tennessee River is 480 feet high, making it the highest dam east of the Mississippi River.
A true example of wilderness and frontier life awaits visitors mere blocks away from downtown Gatlinburg on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This 6-mile auto loop travels through time, beginning in modern Gatlinburg and moving back to early 19th-century homesteads and finally regressing to primal, unspoiled nature.
The trip begins on Cherokee Orchard Road. In the 1920s and 30s, this area was once a 796-acre commercial orchard and nursery with over 6,000 fruit trees. A short three miles later stands Noah "Bud" Ogle's Place, located at the end of Cherokee Orchard and the beginning of the one-way motor loop. The Ogle homestead beautifully illustrates pioneer engineering -- this was one of the few area homes of the time with running water, pumped naturally into the house via log troughs from a nearby spring.
Trails to three dramatically different waterfalls begin on the motor loop. Thousand Drips Falls , a small but nonetheless spectacular waterfall, can be seen from the road near the end of the trip; these thin streams of water have been cutting away at the bedrock for centuries.