Whether you’re seeking an outdoor adventure on some of the most famous trails and rivers in the southeastern United States or you’re looking for a small-town getaway that allows you to escape the crowds of the city, Franklin & Nantahala, North Carolina are the perfect blend of secluded vacation and small-town life. We’re centrally located to the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, offering visitors the perfect base camp to venture out and explore nature’s paradise. That’s why we call our area Your Gateway to Adventure!

Welcome to Franklin & Nantahala, North Carolina. Tucked away in the mountains of western North Carolina, Franklin & Nantahala are two communities that work together to offer visitors a myriad of ways to get outside and explore the many bounties of the Nantahala National Forest.

Cullasaja River Gorge

The Mountain Waters Scenic Byway will take you through the Cullasaja River Gorge, the mountain town of Franklin, and then over and into the Nantahala River Gorge. Along the way, you will pass beautiful waterfalls as the rivers twist and turn through the Nantahala National Forest. Parking areas along the Cullasaja River allow you to explore Bridal Veil Falls, Dry Falls, and the popular swimming hole, Bust Your Butt Falls, with many places to stop and have a picnic.

Nantahala River

Those seeking world-class whitewater will need to look no further than the Nantahala River. Year-round kayaking along with scheduled recreational dam releases from Nantahala Lake, offer Class III & IV rapids. If a gentler paddling experience is up your alley, the Little Tennessee River flows north into Franklin from Georgia and continues all the way in to Fontana Lake. The Cullasaja, Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers also offer fantastic spots for the fly fisherman in the family. Set out solo or contact a local fishing guide to help you find the best places to cast a line and relax.

The famed naturalist William Batram passed through the Franklin & Nantahala area back in the late 1700s, writing books about the wildlife, fauna, and flora he encountered along the way. If hiking and exploring the mountains and trails are calling you to the mountains, the Bartram Trail has over 100 miles of trail, much of which lies within the Nantahala National Forest. Together with the world-famous Appalachian Trail, even the most avid hikers will have numerous options to challenge their skills. The two trails also intersect at one of the most popular historic and scenic locations in all of Western North Carolina, Wayah Bald Lookout Tower. Sitting at over one-mile high in elevation, Wayah Bald Tower is one of the must-see locations in the area.

Blue Ridge, Nantahala

From the tower, you can see the Blue Ridge, Nantahala, and Great Smoky Mountains. Sunrise is the most magical time to be at the tower, which was built back in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. 

While the outdoor recreation opportunities are never-ending, Franklin has plenty to do for the foodies, music lovers, and craft beer aficionados. Franklin is home to the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, a world-class venue that offers entertainment from all genres of music and Broadway shows. Make sure to plan ahead to catch an A list performer or masterful character portrayals. Head downtown Franklin on Saturday evenings from Memorial Day thru late October for Picking’ on the Square, a free concert right in the heart of the historic district, Main Street adjacent. Country, Blue Grass, Classic Rock, Beach Music, and so much more! We’d invite you to walk the Main Street in Franklin anad get to see some of the hand made local item made by local crafters.

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We also have two full service craft beer breweries in Franklin, bookmarking opposite ends of Main Street. They are both very family friendly venues, they’re both great places to enjoy an evening in the yard or out along the Little Tennessee River. If you’re looking for a finer fare to dine on, look no further than Café Rel or Gracious Plates. Exquisite cuisine and a refreshing way to end the day for sure!

After a day of retail therapy, it’s time to head over to Nantahala Lake, a water-sports enthusiasts happy place. From paddle boarding to pontoon boats, jet skiing to speed boating, with over 80% of the lake’s shoreline undeveloped and owned by the National Forest Service, ensuring the lake remains a serene and peaceful getaway. Have your own boat? Bring it along to one of our two public boat launches. Need a boat of just about any kind, head over to Lake’s End Marina and rent a boat of your choosing. Make sure you stop in at the Café & Grill for lunch and dinner!

We invite you to join us in 2023 in Franklin and Nantahala North Carolina – your gateway to adventure!