Summer is the perfect time to embark on a much-needed mountain getaway! Grab your camera, friends, and mountain gear to experience summer fun in the Smokies. Visit some of our favorite summer activities and perfect photo opportunities around Bryson City!

Creeks and Streams

Where Relaxation Meets Water

Fontana Lake forms part of the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the northern border of Nantahala National Forest, ensuring it is the perfect gathering spot for kayakers and paddleboarders. Local river outfitters offer self-guided, fully guided, and guide-assisted river trips. Check out Bryson City Outdoors – Kayak and SUP rentals, a classic family-friendly rental shop that will provide you with the gear you need for an unforgettable experience on an iconic river. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are perfect for families, solo travelers, and groups of friends of all skill levels who want to soak up the sun and chill out on the serene waters of Bryson City. Another great rental shop to check out is Nantahala Outdoor Center. Grab your gear and enjoy the beautiful scenery Fontana Lake has to offer. Keep your eyes peeled for vibrant wildlife like Osprey, Box turtles, and ducks! For guided stand-up paddleboarding, head to Sunny Day Adventure Co. and have a more hands-on experience paddling through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s time for you to get the summer getaway you’ve been seeking and embark on a relaxing journey down the rivers and streams of the iconic Smokies. If you are bold enough to bring a camera, make sure it is waterproof or in a waterproof protective case to capture the footage safely.

Fontana Lake Train Trestle

Capture Nature on a Scenic Hike

Bryson City is full of awe-inspiring Kodak moments. The flowers are blooming, the waterfalls are glistening, and the nature is remarkable. The Great Smoky Mountains are full of picturesque moments you can capture just by heading on one of our trails! Hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains is a hallmark of any Bryson City vacation, something you truly can’t skip on your adventures. Start with Waterrock Knob for a gorgeous 360 view of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Waterrock Knob is Blue Ridge Parkway’s highest visitor center and is uniquely suited for viewing both sunrises and sunsets. Experience exquisite long-range views and a 1.2 miles round-trip trail when you hike Waterrock Knob. Next, look into one of America’s most historic hikes, The Appalachian Trail. The famous trail stretches 2,180+ miles from Georgia to Maine and has several access points near Bryson City. Many of these hikes are strenuous, requiring a full day to complete, so you must plan and dedicate one of your vacation days to completing your Appalachian Trail excursion. One of the closest is the Wesser to Stecoah Gap hike, which starts near the Nantahala Outdoor Center. This one-way trek will take an estimated minimum of 10 hours to complete, and it is 13.6 miles in length. We advise you to have a car accessible at the parking stations at both ends of this trail, and have plenty of water on your person! Looking for a moderate-difficulty hike, check out the Kephart Prong Trail a 4.2-mile roundtrip trek. The trail begins by crossing a wide bridge over the Oconaluftee River and offers a few spots to capture photos of the creek running through. This scenic and serene trail is rich with nature and makes for a great photo-op. If you seek a spectacular view of the Greta Smoky Mountains, Andrews Bald is the hike for you. The hike is long enough to escape the crowds at Clingmans Dome but short enough for the entire family to enjoy! You can easily access it from the Dome parking lot. Get your camera ready when the hike leads you past a spruce-fir forest, an ideal location for a one-of-a-kind family photo!

Picture in Picture

Capture the Iconic Elk of the Smokies

Another can’t-miss experience in the Smokies you’ll want to snap is elk-viewing in Cherokee. Observe the elk of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as they spend their days browsing the grasses of open meadows of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. They’re most active in the early morning or at dusk, and summer is the perfect time to visit as it is prime time to see the newly born calves. It’s not rare for the elk to get close to the roads near cars, making them easy to capture on film. It’s important to keep a safe distance of at least 150 feet. Do not approach or corner the elk as they are wild animals, and do not block traffic or pull into residential property. Elk can be safely viewed from a parking area in many places!




Adventures For Summer

Summer in Bryson City is one of our favorite seasons. It's a great time to experience the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, swimming, whitewater rafting, tubing, boating, fishing, and so much more. With stunning mountain forests in full bloom, warm days for activities, cool evenings for stargazing or sitting around the fire, Bryson City is a great place to visit in…