For the most breathtaking sunsets and sunrises in the United States, all you have to do is hop in your car and take a drive to Cherokee. Located right in the heart of Western North Carolina, Cherokee is more then just a scenic location. Bordered by two national parks, Cherokee makes for a perfect weekend excursion or camping destination.
The section off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee is home to some of the most incredible scenic overlooks, requiring you to only step out of your car and take it all in. Don’t believe me? I think these ten photos will prove my point.
1. Waterrock Knob Overlook
Just 18 miles outside of Cherokee, Waterrock Knob Overlook is ranked as the 13th highest peak in the Eastern U.S. Here, you can take in some seriously spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2. Morton's Overlook
Named after Ben Morton (1875-1952) a civic leader and conservationist who worked to preserve the park, Morton’s overlook has some exquisite beauty. Locals know it to be the best sunset spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Halfway between Cherokee and Gatlinburg, TN, you’ll want to see the view in person (although this photo is just gorgeous too).
3. Clingman's Dome
As the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingman’s Dome offers over 100 miles of expanded views. Open April 1st-November 30th. climb to the top of the 45-foot observation tower to take it all in.
4. Ocanaluftee Overlook
If you love a good sunrise, head to Oconaluftee Overlook just outside of Cherokee. Bring a hot morning cup of coffee and a cozy blanket to watch the drama unfold as the rising sun cascades through the mountain range.
5. Cherohala Skyway
Three decades and $100 million dollars later, the Cherohala Skyway, a 43-mile National Scenic Byway, was well worth both time and money With winding roads dipping through gorgeous views and spanning through parts of the 640,000-acre Cherokee National Forest, Cherohala will take your Sunday drive to the next level.
6. Carlos Campbell Overlook
This breathtaking overlook is right outside of Gatlinburg, TN, off of Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At just under 6600 ft. elevation, you'll get a dramatic view of Mt. LeConte
7. Mile High Overlook / Heintooga Vista
Heintooga Ridge Road was originally an old rail line up Balsam Mountain for lumber. At 5,250 feet, the Mile High Overlook on Heintooga Ridge Road displays breathtaking panoramic views of the eastern side of the Smoky Mountains.
8. Big Bald Mountain
As the highest peak of the Bald Mountain Range, at 5,516 ft., Big Bald Mountain is something you must experience. The Appalachian Trail runs parallel to the crest of the range, providing gorgeous views of both NC and TN.
9. Cade's Cove
For hundreds of years, the Cherokee Indians used Cades Cove as a frequent hunting destination. Today, the 11-mile one-way loop road not only has beautiful mountain views but contains neat historic buildings….and…BEARS! Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife; sightings are not rare in the area.
10. Looking Glass Rock
Located in the Pisgah National Forest , this giant rock of Whiteside granite soars into the clouds at a daring 3,969 feet. When rainwater freezes on its surface, it reflects the sun like a mirror. So, now you know how it got its name, yet, the Cherokee associated it with the slant-eyed giant Judaculla. Just like Judaculla’s rock, Judaculla dominated everything in the land. Folklore and all, it is still a beautiful sight to see.
For more information on day trips, hikes, and overlooks in and around Cherokee, go to