Skip to Main Content

About Bryson City & Swain County

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, Tuckasegee, Oconaluftee and 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.

Stories from Bryson City & Swain County

December 31, 2020
The Blue Ridge Parkway, a unit of the National Park Service, is managed as a scenic route but also to protect the natural resources along the Parkway corridor. When high elevation nighttime temperatures dip below freezing, there is little winter sun and moisture is on the roadway, sections of the…
December 4, 2020
Many of the businesses along the Blue Ridge Parkway remain open year-round and offer such eclectic merchandise that you can shop for everyone on your holiday gift list. These merchants can ship gifts directly to your door or to the recipient’s location if you won’t be able to deliver the…
November 16, 2020
2020 has been a year of challenges. Even while staying at home we still seem to be busy. And with the cases of COVID-19 apparently on the rise across the country, maybe this holiday season is the time to take a romantic getaway in a nearby locale rather than gathering family members that live in different communities into one place and risking spreading the virus. Regardless of when you choose to enjoy a romantic getaway, we have some options and ideas for you to consider.
September 9, 2020
Enjoy waterfalls and cascades throughout Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
August 26, 2020
The Blue Ridge Mountains are dotted with farms producing everything from Christmas trees to trout. Fruit, flowers, herbs, jams, jellies, pies, wreaths and other crafts are all produced right here in the mountains.
July 1, 2020
Motorcycle and sportscar touring are popular along the winding routes in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
April 17, 2020
Whether you are enjoying the entire Blue Ridge Parkway or just visiting regions in North Carolina or Tennessee, there are many ways to enjoy nature and the outdoors, even in the lodging opportunities available along the route.
July 15, 2019
If you're wondering where to go swimming during your Blue Ridge Parkway trip, we've rounded up all the best spots. It's important to note that while there are some beautiful waters located right on the Parkway itself, swimming is not allowed in Parkway waters. But there are no shortage of great swimming holes nearby, as well as guided rafting tours, kayak rentals, tubing, and some beautiful lakeside rentals.
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.

Recommended Itineraries

Region: North Carolina
Duration:2 - 3 days
Bryson City is located just west of the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 469.1), and the Cherokee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here’s a sample multi-day itinerary to inspire your next getaway.
Region: North Carolina
Duration:1 day
Bryson City is located just west of the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 469.1), and the Cherokee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here’s a sample one-day itinerary to inspire your next getaway.