A Day in Cherokee…or Hospitality in the Great Smoky Mountains

Julie and I drove three hours along the Blue Ridge Parkway towards our destination, Maggie Valley. It is a pleasant town with more hotels than restaurants. At least it seemed so–most restaurants were closed on Sunday. We drove on through to Cherokee, our destination for the day.

The folks at the welcome center, gave us a map, and greeted us kindly. One young man made it his job put a smile on every visitors face. We could have talked all day.

The Oconaluftee River flowed quietly behind, and there was a fine porch, with rocking chairs to sit a spell if you wanted a rest.

Oconaluftee River

We headed towards the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. On the way we found large, colorful bears lining the street.

Bear at the Veterans Memorial

Cherokee Museum

Mother and child on trail of tears


Trail of Tears

The history of the Cherokee was presented in a beautiful way and many art pieces were striking.  There’s a well-rounded gift shop with T-shirts, jewelry, and great collection of historical books.

We parked by the river and ate our packed lunch. Along the river was a bamboo forest. It was on Julie’s list of things to see. 


My sister Julie
Bamboo along the Oconaluftee River

Families cooled their hot feet in the river, while others sat in the water. It was a hot, lazy day and everyone enjoyed it.

Down river people sang a hymn as a young girl was baptized in the river. We stopped to watch and give a silent blessing.

Baptism in Cherokee

I heard there is great fly-fishing there, or if you don’t care to fish, there’s the Sequoyah golf club, and horseback riding. (If you are in need of ice cream, you can find several shops).

After our time in the bamboo forest, and shopping for T-shirts, postcards and gifts,we headed to our hotel in Maggie Valley. At this point I will say that to no fault of my sister, the hotel had given away our room (in the morning) before check in time.  We were deep in the area of N.C. for total eclipse the next day.

Where on earth would we find a room now?

My sister was so mad she couldn’t speak, but we headed next door to talk to a woman who “knew someone,” and gave us directions to a lodge where they were saving us a room.

This adventure was getting exciting. While my sister was upset, I could only wonder what God had in mind.

The next thing we knew was we were headed up a winding mountain road to Smokey Shadows Lodge. Bone tired and stressed from losing our hotel, we decided to stay two nights.

Porch overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains
Smokey Shadows Lodge, Maggie Valley, NC

Once I saw the lodge, the full-length porch overlooking the Smoky Mountains, I knew God saved something better for us. (Though we were glad for earplugs for the creaking stairs and floors). It was old, quaint, and just perfect.

This lodge was built from square logs taken from an old gristmill. As you can see, the lower part of the building is stone. I felt like I was sleeping in a barn, without the barn smells.

The room

Everyone raved about the meals, but we missed our breakfast because we left before dawn to see the eclipse. Tomato pie was on the menu and we tried it the next morning. The food was family style, healthy and great tasting.

View from the porch

Sadly, the only thing I missed was the elk coming out around 6:30 in Cherokee. If we hadn’t had the hotel to lodge change, we may have seen the elk. Even without the elk, we were having a fantastic time.

Elk…another time…

Of all places, this was in the restroom.





8 thoughts on “A Day in Cherokee…or Hospitality in the Great Smoky Mountains

  1. Julie Shrauger

    I love how you ended this blog with the Elk sign. We need to do another trip. What blessings we had along the way!

  2. Such a fun post! The great time you had with your sister inspires me — my sister is coming from Alaska to visit this month.
    That bamboo forest! I wouldn’t have thought anything like that could exist north of the tropics!

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