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Are you thinking about making a day trip from Pigeon Forge to Cherokee NC? If you’ve never seen the Cherokee side of the Smokies, we recommend making a day trip just to experience all that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer.
The drive from Pigeon Forge to Cherokee NC only takes about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Plus, the drive is beautiful – no matter the season! You’ll love the sights as you drive across the mountain into Cherokee.
Map from Pigeon Forge to Cherokee NC
Things to See in the Great Smoky Mountains at Cherokee
1. Go for a Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
When you head over to Cherokee NC, there’s even more hiking trails to see. When you visit, be sure to keep your eyes open for elk. They are occasionally seen in the fields surrounding the Oconaluftee Visitors Center, but can be seen in many open areas throughout the park. You typically won’t see these on the Gatlinburg side of the mountains – they tend to stay in the Cherokee area.
The large open fields on the Cherokee side of the Smokies are quite popular. Many people compare the beautiful views to what you would see at Cades Cove in Gatlinburg.
2. Visit the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee NC
When you’re spending time on the Cherokee side of the national park, be sure to check out the Oconaluftee Visitor Center for some different souvenirs than what you’ll find in Gatlinburg. There is also a museum in the visitor center that focuses on the history of the Smoky Mountains, from the early Cherokee to the European Settlers to today’s national park.
3. Go to the Mountain Farm Museum
Right behind the visitor center, you can explore the Mountain Farm Museum. The museum features historical structures, like an old barn, farmhouse, apple house and more. They do seasonal demonstrations at the Mountain Farm Museum, too.
This is a quick tour of the Mountain Farm Museum in Cherokee NC:
4. See the Historical Mingus Mill
If you’re driving from Pigeon Forge to Cherokee NC sometime between mid-April and October, the Mingus Mill will be in full operation. Mingus Mill is a large, water-powered mill for grinding corn. It’s located about a half mile from the Oconaluftee Visitors Center.
Book Your Cabin in Pigeon Forge
After spending a day in Cherokee NC, you’ll be glad to have a Pigeon Forge cabin to return to for a relaxing evening. Make sure to click here to take a look at all of the best Pigeon Forge cabins for your vacation!