Cherohala Skyway


Take a ride in the Sky(way)

The Cherohala Skyway may be the only National Scenic Byway that resulted from a joke. In the 1950s, someone made a joke about the only roads between North Carolina and Tennessee being old wagon trails. That started an annual wagon trail ride, which gave rise to the idea for a highway that would run along the crest of the Unicoi Mountains from Robbinsville, N.C., to Tellico, Tenn. After 40 years and at a cost of $100 million, the 43-mile Cherohala Skyway was finished. It has become a popular scenic drive as it rises from 2,660 feet to 5,390 feet in just over 10 miles along the North Carolina side. This mini Blue Ridge Parkway combines with the nearby Dragon at Deals Gap and the Parkway itself to make an amazing driving trip through Western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains. The Cherohala Skyway is named for the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, which line each side of the road. It is known for its long sweeping corners, scenic views, and picnic and hiking opportunities. Popular stops along and near the Skyway include Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Santeetlah Lake and many Cherokee sites.

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