Sky Ridge Yurts is located in the heart of the Smoky Mountains where opportunities for outdoor fun are nearly endless. We are just ten minutes away from the famous Nantahala Outdoor Center, or the NOC as it’s affectionately known around here, where you can find everything from the classic river rafting adventure to simply having a cold craft brew by the river. About a fifteen minute drive will find you in the heart of Bryson City, where you’ll find abundant shopping and incredible restaurants to experience. This is also where you’ll find the closest entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the Deep Creek area. If mountain biking is what you’re into, we are located a simple ten minutes away from the Tsali mountain bike area. Whatever you’d like to do on your vacation in the mountains, Sky Ridge will put you right in the middle of it all. Here are just a few recommendations in the area that we think you shouldn’t miss, from our personal experience.
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Easily one of the newest and most popular activities in the area, zip lining is a great way to push your own limits and experience something that not many people have. If you have the time, we recommend a trip through the Smokies into Gatlinburg for a visit to Climbworks. There are many reasons why we think Climbworks is well worth the day trip, but probably the best reason is that they allow young children to ride tadem with guides, so your smallest family member doesn’t have to sit this one out. You can reach them at 865-325-8116. And while you’re over that way, you can also take a ride on the Mountain Coaster at Ober Gatlinburg. It's super fun!
If you’d rather stay closer by, we also recommend the zip lining options at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, only three miles away from Sky Ridge. The NOC offers three totally different zip lining experiences. One is their Adventure Park, where families can experience two levels of air obstacles and tadem zip lines. The great thing about this option is that there is a viewing area below the obstacles, so parents that aren’t interested in participating can turn their kids loose on the Park and watch from below. The second option is the NOC’s canopy tour, which offers the longest single zip in the state – from ridge top to ridge top – and is absolutely breathtaking! And finally for the smallest in your party, you'll find the Treetop Adventure Nets, which is a huge in-the-trees playground right by the river. There are weight and age requirements for these, so be sure to check in at the NOC to see if everyone can participate. You can reach them at 828.785.5082 or on their website at www.noc.com.
FONTANA DAM AREA
Home to the largest lake in NC, the Fontana Dam area offers so many options for outdoor adventure. Rent a boat from Alarka Boat Dock and spend a day on the water at, or for something a little more daring, check out Bryson City Outdoors for kayak or SUP rentals. If getting in the water really isn't your thing, you can still enjoy the beauty of the lake with an easy hike through the Road To Nowhere tunnel and the Lakeshore Trail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Another great option would be to hop a ride in an open-air Jeep and tour the area with a local guide. Jeeps tours are an excellent adventure for those who want to experience the outdoors but have trouble hiking. We recommend Wildwater for Jeeps tours. You can book online at www.wildwaterrafting.com, but you should call them at 866-319-8870 and book direct. We found their online booking to be a little tricky.
CHEROKEE INDIAN RESERVATION
Rich with history and heritage of the area, a trip to the Cherokee Indian Reservation is a must-do, especially on rainy days. The Oconaluftee Indian Village lets you immerse yourself in the tribal culture of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, with live weapons demonstrations, basketweaving lessons, interactive tours about the lives of the Indians then and now, and much more. Supplement what you learned at the Village at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and see a wealth of artifacts and history. Oh yeah, and there's also that other thing....Harrah's Cherokee Casino!
Probably the most popular areas to mountain bike can be found at the Tsali Recreation Area. About a 10 minute drive from Sky Ridge, Tsali offers scenic pedaling around Fontana lake for beginners and challenging climbs and super-fast descents for experts. You can make any ride at Tsali a short easy-paced one or an all-day challenge.
If you don’t have your own bike, don’t worry. There are many places to rent bikes in the area. We recommend Tsali Cycles in downtown Bryson City. They can hook you up with a full 24-hour rental, and more than that, they’ll size you (and your kids) professionally so that you don’t find yourself on a bike that’s not right for you. Also included with your rental are bike racks for transportation, and the staff can also assess your riding skills and recommend the right biking trail to suit you. You can reach them 828-488-9010 or on their website at www.tsalicycles.com
The Nantahala River is family-friendly and consists of Class II and III rapids, and you can rent your own raft or go with a guide that can make the river extra fun and safe. There are many rafting companies in the area, but our personal favorite is Endless River Adventures. There are some weight restrictions for children, so you'll want to check with them before planning your trip. You can reach them by calling 828-488-6199 or on their website at www.endlessriveradventures.com.
If you’re looking for something a little more tame, we recommend a tube ride down Deep Creek in the Smoky Mountain National Park. No age or weight requirements, you can ride this river without a guide and give everyone in your group the wildwater experience. There are many companies in the area who rent tubes in Deep Creek, but our favorite is JJ's Tube World. It's honor system at JJ's, so grab the tubes you need, drop the money in the jar and return them by nightfall. The average cost for tubing is around $3 per person per day, so many find it a much more economical way to enjoy a day on the water.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN RAILROAD
Easily one of the biggest draws to the Bryson City area, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad offers passengers the opportunity to ride traditional steam engine trains through the heart of the Smoky Mountains. From open-air cars to elegant first class dining cars, you're sure to find the train experience to be one you won't soon forget. And don't miss the seasonal Polar Express Christmas train that runs each Christmas season beginning in November. The train is transformed into the magical train from the movie, where guests are welcomed in their pajamas with hot chocolate, cookies, and jingle bells as they're whisked away in magical fashion to meet St. Nick. Tickets (and lodging) for the Polar Express go quickly, so book early!