Especially if you love nature, a Chattanooga to Cherokee road trip is a great adventure. Spend time exploring the Great Smoky Mountains and the outstanding state parks along this route. There are also great attractions that you will want to explore as you head east. In addition to seeing nature, a Chattanooga to Cherokee RV road trip can be an outstanding opportunity to learn about pioneers and the Cherokee Indians.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Before the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the land was home to the Cherokee Indians and European settlers. You can learn more about the park's history and its people by stopping at the Sugarlands Visitors Center. View the 20-minute film about the park. This center also has many exhibits about the park's natural history, and rangers often lead programs here. Then, head west to get to the Cades Cove area of the park, where you can view the John Oliver Cabin held together by pegs and gravity. The Oliver family lived in this cabin for over 100 years. In the same area is the Primitive Baptist Church. This church was constructed in 1887, and the congregation met there for 20 years after the park's creation. Another historical building in the Cades Cove area you will want to explore is the Cades Cove Cable Mill. Many other historical farm buildings have been moved near the mill. Another area of the park you will want to visit is the Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill. This area near Oconaluftee has a house, barn, apple house, springhouse, and smokehouse moved to this location from throughout the park. There are many other things that you can enjoy doing while in this park, including hiking, fishing, biking, and horseback riding.
Booker T. Washington State Park
You may want to start your journey right in Chattanooga by visiting Booker T. Washington State Park. Water enthusiasts will love playing on Chickamauga Lake. Anglers have caught record-size bass in this lake. Fishermen have caught bass weighing more than 15 pounds and a five-fish string weighing over 44 pounds. It can help your success rate if you fish in water about 8-feet deep in the summer and shallower water in the spring and fall. This state park offers four hiking trails. Bikers can ride on a 6-mile loop trail around the park, featuring some terrific uphill climbs. The area around the biking trail and the fishing pier are both great places to go bird watching, especially in the spring and summer when migratory birds are traveling through.
Harrison Bay State Park
Harrison Bay State Park near Harrison, Tennessee, is the oldest state park in the state. Use the boat ramp at the marina to launch your vessel onto Chickamauga Lake. Rowboats and fishing boats are both available to rent at the marina. Play a round of golf at the Bear Trace Golf Course, located in this park. While water touches 12 of the fairways, the way this course is laid out, the water seldom comes into play. View native grassland wildlife in their natural surroundings by following the hiking trails. The 4.5-mile Bay Point Loop is also available for biking. Approximately 130 species of birds have been spotted in this park, with bald eagles often nesting on the golf course.
Red Clay State Historic Park
The location of the last seat of the Cherokee national government before the 1838 enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 is now called Red Clay State Historic Park. The Cherokee government was headquartered at this location from 1832 to 1837. At this site, the Cherokees learned that they had to vacate the land and move west to present-day Oklahoma. Hike along several trails to see the Council of Trees, where the Native Americans would hold their council fires. Ranger programs happen almost daily at this park. They often feature this park's ecosystem and birds, but some focus on art and weapons made by the Cherokees.
Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park
Plan a stop on your road trip itinerary from Chattanooga to Cherokee to stop at Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic River State Park near Delano, Tennessee. This state park is a fantastic place for a rafting adventure, and many nearby vendors offer kayaks and canoes to rent. Use the launching facilities at this park to launch the vessel onto the flat water of the Hiwassee Scenic River. As you move downstream, you will encounter whitewater rapids from Class I, II, and III. You can also go rafting on the Ocoee Scenic River through the Cherokee National Forest. This choice offers over twenty continuous rapids. There are many hiking trails in this park. Longer options connect with trails in the Cherokee National Forest. This park has numerous picnic areas, which can be a great place to birdwatch, especially in the spring when the wildflowers bloom.
Gorges State Park
Gorges State Park near Saphire, North Carolina, is a fantastic place to visit if you love waterfalls and sheer rock walls. The government has listed all the streams in this park as Wild Trout Streams, and the fishing is usually fantastic. It can also be a great place to catch smallmouth bass. Head to the Bearwallow Picnic Area and follow the trail to see the Bearwter Creek Waterfall. There are many other hiking trails, and some are open for horseback riding and mountain biking.
Hanging Dog Recreation Area
Go fishing and boating on Hiwassee Lake by visiting the Hanging Dog Recreation Area. There are over 180 miles of shoreline to fish from or cast a line from a boat from June to October. There is an accessible fishing pier. There are eight miles of the Ramsey Bluff Mountain Biking System at this recreation area close to Murphy, North Carolina.
Ocoee Whitewater Center
The world's first Olympic canoe and kayak slalom events on a natural river occurred at this location in 1996. From June through October, go whitewater rafting at this location. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails available. View the Native garden honoring Olympic athletes. This location is on the Ocoee Scenic Byway, so enjoy many scenic views as you drive to it and leave.
Cherokee Mountainside Theatre
The outdoor musical Unto These Hills has been presented at the Cherokee Mountainside Theater every summer since 1950, except for 2020. The show tells the story of the Cherokee Native Americans from the 1750s until the present time. This play occurs six nights a week from June through August.
Oconaluftee Indian Village
Follow your Cherokee cultural expert on a guided tour through the woods to Oconaluftee Indian Village. See how the Native Americans hulled out canoes, created pottery and masks, completed fashion beadwork, and wove baskets. Watch as the Native Americans prepare for battle. This venue is open from the end of April to the end of October.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
Follow the development of the Cherokee Indian tribe from ancient times through more modern ones. Computer images will make you think that people from each time period are telling you a story. This museum is filled with many artifacts related to the tribe. You can also learn how encounters with the first settlers changed their lives forever. This facility that is open except on significant holidays also contains an extensive research library.
Shoddy Daisy, Tennessee
You will want to go north a little way to visit Shoddy Daisy when you leave Chattanooga on your road trip from Chattanooga to Cherokee. Find terrific Shoddy Daisy campgrounds, like Sequoyah RV Park or Possom Kingdom RV Park and Campground, which are both quiet locations. You can find Shoddy Daisy RV dump stations at Harrison Bay State Park and Chester Frost Park.
Consider spending a night at one of the fantastic Cleveland, Tennessee, campgrounds, like Chattanooga North / Cleveland KOA Journey. The pool can feel refreshing after a long day of exploring. Your dog will love the dog park. Another great option is the Chilhowee Recreation Area, which sits on top of a mountain with beautiful lake views below. Find Cleveland RV dump stations at Chilhowee Recreation Area and Chester Frost Park.
Bryson City, North Carolina
There are many Bryson City campground choices. Consider the Bear Hunter Campground, where you can camp right on the river. Another terrific choice is the Deep Creek Tube Center and Campground, where you can go tubing. Bryson City RV dump stations are available at Moonshine Creek Campground, Ela Campground, and Adventure Trail Campground.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Chattanooga to Cherokee, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Chattanooga or Cherokee.