Skip to Main Content

Formed in 1871 from parts of Jackson County and Macon County, Swain County was named for David L. Swain, governor of North Carolina from 1832 to 1835. Much of the county lies within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including its highest peak, Clingmans Dome. Four scenic rivers, the Nantahala, the Tuckasegee, the Oconaluftee and the Little Tennessee flow through the county and form the sprawling Lake Fontana, west of Bryson City, the county seat.

Native Americans have been living and hunting in the vicinity of what is now Bryson City for nearly 14,000 years. The Qualla Boundary, which comprises the bulk of the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, dominates the area to the east.

In 1988, a scenic line known as the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad was established with its depot and departure point in Bryson City.

Area Visitor Centers

Lodging, Dining & Things to Do

Stories from Bryson City & Swain County

November 18, 2018
Spending the holidays in the Blue Ridge Mountains brings to mind cozy fireside nights under homespun quilts, a brisk family hike to find the perfect Christmas tree on the farm, and the very the best slopes for skiing and sledding. We’ve rounded up all this and more in our guide to festive winter fun in the communities along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
October 18, 2018
When will the leaves be at peak color this Fall along the Blue Ridge Parkway? While it would be nice if we could forecast the moment Autumn foliage will dazzle us with peak vibrancy as reliably as we track the ocean's tides, just when and why the leaves change colors is a complex array of factors far less predictable.