Cherokee Things to Do
The Trail of a 1,000 tears started in Cherokee, North Carolina and there are monuments reflecting the history of the Cherokee nation in the western North Carolina mountains. The area is full of natural beauty and the history of these people is recreated in villages, their art and their handicrafts.
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Mingo Falls is a 120-foot waterfall in the Qualla Indian Reservation, just outside Cherokee, NC and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From the parking area, the hike starts out by heading up more than 100 stairs, but then levels off after the stairs and shortly leads to a nice viewing area. Mingo Falls is a gorgeous waterfall with wonderful character.
Soco Falls is a pretty, double waterfall in the Qualla Indian Reservation between Cherokee and Maggie Valley. From the pull-off along US-19, follow the short trail through the break in the guard rail down to the wooden viewing platform. From here, you can see the main waterfall on Soco Creek, but you can’t really see the other waterfall (on an unnamed tributary). Getting to the wooden platform is pretty easy. Getting to the waterfall’s base should only be attempted by those in good physical shape who are accustomed to scrambling down steep embankments.
“Unto These Hills” is a long-running outdoor drama that tells the story of the Cherokee people – from their beginning, through the Trail of Tears and up to the present day. The performances run nightly (except Sundays) June through mid-August. The actors are wonderful, the story is compelling, and it’s a “must see” if you’re anywhere near the area. The open-air seating is lovely on summer nights, and there’s not a bad seat in the house.
The Oconaluftee Indian Village is more than just a place, it’s another time. Centuries-old traditions have been passed down from generation to generation and preserved in this living history site. The best way to experience Oconaluftee, circa 1760, is to un-tether yourself from the world that you know. Put your cell phone away and sit under the trees, breathe the pure mountain air and notice that the only sounds here come from nature. No cars. No blaring TVs. Instead of burnt fossil fuel, the faint but warmly inviting tang of wood smoke wafts by on the breeze. Follow it. Embrace it at your own pace. As you step into the Oconaluftee Indian Village, you’re transported back to witness the Cherokee way of life at a time that can only be fondly dreamed of today.
The Village is open daily 9:00 – 5:00, with tours every 15 minutes except 11:30 – 12:30 and 2:30 – 3:30. The last tour is taken at 5:00 pm. Visitors can experience traditional medicine and interact with villagers as they hull canoes, make pottery and masks, weave baskets and beadwork and participate in traditional daily activities.
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Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about Cherokee, North Carolina.