Tag Archives: Fun things to do in Bryson City

Top 5 Fall Lookout Spots Near Bryson City

The mountains that surround Bryson City, North Carolina provide some of the most spectacular in all of Western North Carolina. One of the most popular times to search out such viewing spots id during the fall, and that is why we have decided to fill you in on what us locals think are the top 5 best spots to take your family to enjoy the fall color!

5. Wesser Fire Tower (Wesser Bald)

Wesser Fire Tower is a summit located in Macon County, NC near the community of Wesser. A wooden fire tower at the summit provides hikers with unimpeded views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and also the Nantahala Mountains. Hikers can park at Tellico gap then climb from Tellico Gap to the fire tower up a forest service access road (1 mile) or the Applachian Trail (1.4 miles). The summit is located at about 4500ft, and is within Nantahala National Forest. This may not be the highest peak in the area, but the 360 degree view is still amazing and the amount of people is minimal. The hike to the top is moderate in difficulty, the trail is well maintained but the elevation gain can be daunting, but the reward at the top is well worth it.WesserTowerFall

4. Wayah Bald

Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area’s highest point (5,385 feet). The Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail cross at Wayah Bald. Wayah Bald is easily accessed by car and the hike from the parking area to the fire tower is short. In the fall be sure to encourage the Appalachian Trail hikers that are 4-5 days from completing their long journey a congratulations!

3. Hopper Bald

Hooper Bald is a grassy bald mountain in the Unicoi Mountain Range located in the Cheoah Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest in Graham County, NC. The summit is 5,429 ft and can be reached via the 0.5 mile Hooper Bald Trail. The parking area and trailhead is located between mile marker 7 and 8 along the North Carolina side of the Cherohala Skyway. We chose this lookout not only because the easy access and the great views, but because the drive to get to it is just as rewarding as the view from the top. The Cherohala Skyway is a great section of road that does not get as much traffic as the Blue Ridge Parkway, but is just as worthy.

2. Black Balsam Knob

Black Balsam Knob is in the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, North Carolina, near milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is the second highest mountain in the Great Balsam Mountains. The Great Balsams are within the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains. It is the 23rd highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6000 feet in elevation. Accessing this lookout is quite easy and the drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway from either direction is beautiful. Once you reach the parking area hike about .5 miles up along the grassy bald and enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the views!


1. Clingman’s Dome

Clingman’s Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. At an elevation of 6,643 feet, it is the highest mountain in the Smokies, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the 2,174-mile (3,499 km) Appalachian Trail. East of the Mississippi River, only Mount Mitchell (6,684) and Mount Craig (6,647 feet). This well known lookout is well deserving of all the talk, from the parking area the hike to the the lookout tower at the top of the mountain is straight up, but the trail is paved. The views from the lookout tower on a clear day cannot be matched, however, the amount of people that venture to this spot during the fall can be overwhelming for anyone looking to take in the beauty of nature in peace. Despite all of the people we still consider this spot the #1 lookout close to Bryson City, NC.

All of these spots are great for their own reasons and we encourage you to try out each of these while you are in the area, because they all have different things to offer. Thanks for taking the time to read through this list and we hope we have inspired you to venture in to the mountains this fall season and catch some amazing views!

Visit Bryson City, Despite The Shut Down

BRYSON CITY, NC – This small town is not going to let the government spoil their fall season if they can help it. The town has launched a social and video campaign (#shutdownshutup) letting people know that there is way more to do in Bryson City than just hike the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding closed federal lands. Shut Down, Shut Up is now spreading across the internet and making its way in to the homes of thousands of potential visitors. I am currently sitting outside right at this moment enjoying the amazing fall air and watching the leaves fall all around, these mountains and this community are still an amazing place no matter what the government tries to do.

Watch Bryson City’s Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29Am1m9hzMk

Here is a short list of places to visit that have not been affected by the government shut down:

-Go Zip-lining
-Ride the train
-Drive across 441 through the GSM National Park
-Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and visit unique small towns along the way
-Drive the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway
-Drive the Cherohala Skyway
-Rent Stand-Up Paddleboards and head to the lake
-Go on a guided fishing trip, or just go fishing
-Visit Fontana Dam
-Take a Jetboat ride
-Enjoy a local fall festival/fair
-Visit a state park, they are not affected by the shutdown
-Visit the Biltmore House
-Take a Brewery Tour
-Take a Kayak Tour
-Play Disc Golf
-Visit the Cherokee Indian Museum
-Ride the Tail of the Dragon (318 curves in 11 miles)
-Visit the Oconaluftee Indian Village
-Go rafting
-Enjoy local restaurants, coffee houses, ice cream parlors, and specialty and gift shops

We here at Yellow Rose Realty hope this shows you many things that you and your family can enjoy during your stay here despite the government raining on our fall parade! If you are still looking for a place to stay this October we still have a few cabins left if you are interested! Give us a call at 800-528-0760

A Big Celebration in a Small Town

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 2.27.14 PMJuly 4th is quickly approaching on the calender, and if you are going to be in the Bryson City area around then that means gearing up for the largest street festival of the year! This festival is an all day long event filled with local music, artisan foods, hand-made crafts and jewelry, and much more. Bryson City shuts down the majority of Everett Street for the festival and the road is lined with tents full of fantastic items for the whole family. After the day has passed and the street vendors start to clear out a portion of the road stays closed until the fireworks show takes place around 10pm. There are many places around town that you can catch the fireworks from, but one of the best is right downtown from the Everett Street bridge.

Here is what the Chamber of Commerce has to say about the festival:

Come join us for an old fashioned street festival on the charming downtown streets of Bryson City.

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Photo from: www.greatsmokies.com

Our annual Fourth of July celebration begins with the Rotary Club Firecracker 5K, and then continues with local artisans and crafters, a full day of local entertainment, festival foods, and fun events including a watermelon eating contest and hula hoop off. Explore Kids’ Street where you’ll find a rock climbing wall, water slide, bouncy house & choo choo ride.

Even Fido is not forgotten – enter your best friend in the “Strut Your Mutt” event that awards ribbons for categories such as “Best Tail Wag” and “Looks Most Like Owner”.

Where else can you find “Elvis” as your emcee as well as performing some of his favorite songs? Actually there are 3 music stages – on the river, at the depot and on the bridge.

As the day wanes and the final band exits the stage, listen to The Star Spangled Banner as you view one of the most spectacular fireworks shows in the Smokies.

For more information about Freedom Fest call 828-488-3681 or toll-free 800-867-9246

Schedule of Events provided by www.greatsmokies.com:

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We at Yellow Rose Realty would love to see you at our small town’s big celebration and if you are still looking for a place to stay we can help, just visit us a www.yellowroserealty.com or call (800)528-0760. See you soon!

Why Vacation in Western North Carolina?


Today I have decided to do my best to answer the above question for those asking because they are trying to find an awesome vacation spot for their family, and for those who are contemplating make a life changing move. Many times over you will see the western counties in North Carolina get mentioned because of their hardship, now this hardship is based on monetary value of assets and income, but can you compare us to the rest of the nation based on these facts alone? No, because the main thing you are forgetting to factor in is the wealth of happiness the people of these impoverished western counties have!

Yes our average household income may be way less than the national average, but the happiness factor is what makes up for all of that. Why are we so happy you may ask? Well, the easy answers is that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the United States, and yes I said “one of”, because I have been to the other ones and you need to go west to see them. The long answer I will get in to in below. I thoroughly enjoyed my journeys out west, and I will go back one day, but the one thing I missed the most while I was traveling was the “simple life” that seems to be so easy to find here in Western North Carolina (WNC).  The life that you can experience here is one encompassed by the amazing beauty of the mountains, rivers, and lakes that are as close as a stones throw away no matter where you are in WNC. Now if you do not enjoy the outdoors and can only see yourself spending your spare time inside of a “high-rise” shopping, or laying beside and pool that is awesome for you, because you are most like happy, but WNC may not be the best option, unless you want to experience something different.

This list of reasons is in no particular order, you must make that decision for yourself:


WNC is one of the outdoor capitals in the nation because you can enjoy almost any outdoor activity that you can dream up at some point during the year. Any day of the week you can find yourself dong any of the following in any order: IMG_1015Swim in a pristine swimming hole in a mountain stream of peaceful lake; sling mud up your back along mountain bike trails that line the ridges and valleys all around; Feel the adrenaline of taking on whitewater’s most impressive features in a raft, kayak, or stand-up-paddle-board; Fish endless miles of rivers, streams and lakes for native beauties; Hunt for wild mountain game that will keep your family full all year; Cling to the side of a rock crag while looking out over the vast landscape around you; Hike thousands of miles of trails that take you deep into the lush forest to experience serenity and natures beauty; Camp or backpack on forever undeveloped land that hides away some of the most spectacular features of WNC; Play in the snow, shred powder, or scale sheets of ice in the winter time; Find a cliff and jump off to experience your heart jumping into your throat until you splash into the glassy water. These thing and many more are what make WNC a playground for all ages, if we do not take advantage of being near all of these awesome activities then we have forgotten what truly matters!

Reason 2: SEASONS

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall are the four seasons, right? Well yes, but have you ever lived in a place where you get to experience all four of them? WNC is a place where the four seasons are very defined, and amazing each in their own way. In Winter you get to see just the right amount of snow, IMG_1029not too much and not too little, just enough where everything turns white, but you are not stuck without power and out of work for weeks. In Spring you get to watch the many plants and trees that make up our lush landscape bloom and come to life after being held dormant during the Winter, and the show is spectacular to watch! In the Summer activities abound and people come from all over to join in on them, from festivals to competitions, the outdoors are crawling with people having fun. The tress have covered the landscape with a layer of never-ending green, that creates awesome shade for all of our outdoor activities to shield us from the 80 degree heat. In Fall watch the mountains and valleys that surround you be transformed into a beautiful painting that will make even the most unimpressed people stand in awe. Experiencing one of the four seasons is just not enough for me, which is why I call this place home!


Bryson CityThis third reason can be one of the most important for people looking to call a new place home. The community in WNC varies some depending on what city you are in, but that is just another thing that makes this place great. However, one thing that all of our communities have in common is true “southern hospitality”, and I am not talking about the use of a country twang “Ma’am and Sur” being used to greet you, I am talking about people who truly want to listen to your story and help you out in any way that they can. We may be different in many ways, but the one thing a neighbor in the mountains will always do is help one another. We eat, love, argue, live, have fun, and mourn together and at the end of the day no matter how rough it was we still support each other and carry on. A community is hard to find when you go on vacation somewhere, but while you are here I hope you get a chance to experience it because it is unique.

There are other reasons that are grouped in with these three for now so that I do not write a 50 page blog post, but these reasons and many more depending on who you ask are all great reasons to want to visit and live in Western North Carolina! If you have been here before I encourage you to come back, if you have never been to WNC the what are you waiting for, and if you are looking for a new place to call home then I hope you are convinced now!

Get to the Mountains!


April is NC Beer Month!

Do you enjoy the crisp refreshing taste of a locally brewed craft beer? If you answered yes then Western North Carolina (WNC) is the place for you to visit during April! The biggest metropolis in WNC is Asheville and has been voted as “Beer City USA” for two consecutive years now! With 17 breweries west of Black Mountain, NC there will be plenty of options for the beer enthusiast who is looking to relax in the mountains of WNC.

NC Beer Month promises enough “beer moments” to fill a memory bank. Homegrown beer festivals survey the state’s craftsmanship and tap into local and regional scenes. Award-winning brewers create collaboration beers, a beer barbecue sauce and ale from a Revolutionary War hero’s handwritten recipe. Brewery events and beer tastings, food pairings and beer dinners, classes in cooking and beer-making, and dozens of other events inspire the moment for beer-loving travelers across North Carolina.        – by www.ncbeermonth.com

Bryson City, North Carolina is a new city on the map that is boasting a craft brewery of its own now, the Nantahala Brewing Company is on the map and they are getting plenty of recognition, and recognition that is well deserved. Currently they have eight of their own beers on tap for guests to enjoy with other guest taps available. They will also be doing another release of their limited edition “Trail Magic” series on March 22nd and 23rd.

We here at Yellow Rose Realty have some great options for lodging when you are coming to WNC to enjoy the outdoors and great craft brew. Visit our website at www.yellowroserealty.com to find a cabin that is right for you and your friends and then either book online or call us (800-528-0760) for more information about the area or about our cabins. We have have a special Stay 2 nights and get the 3rd free going on for stays up until March 31st, so book you cabin with us!

For more NC Beer Month events and ideas visit: www.ncbeermonth.com

Gem Mining in the Smokies – Turn Your Treasure into a Unique Work of Art

Gem Mining in the Smokies, Fun things to do in Bryson City NC, Yellow Rose Realty
This is a beautiful example of a cut star ruby

So, while enjoying your vacation cabin rental near Bryson City,  you went on a gem mining adventure and found a beautiful native ruby or sapphire. Now what do you do with it? The stones themselves are interesting to look at but to the untrained eye, they just look like any other rock! When cut and mounted, however, they can be truly spectacular!

There are many artisans in the area who will cut and mount the stones for you. Most mines will be happy to refer you to a gem artist /jeweler who is both dependable and talented. Here’s a link to one of our favorite artist jewelers. Keep in mind that the cutting process can sometimes take a few weeks, so your stone will most likely be shipped to you once you are back home. When a stone is cut, the artist must around imperfections and determine the type cut that will produce the most beautiful finished gem. The cut stone you receive will be much smaller than the stone you now hold in your hand.

Some mines in the area are noted for a particular type of sapphire and ruby that produce six-pointed star when they are cut into a cabochon shape, with a smooth, rounded top. These are called Star-Sapphires and are considered to be rare. The star is the result of tiny inclusions that react with light, giving it a beautiful, lustrous star pattern.

Jewelry made from gems you found yourself is special and fun to wear because it has a story and will always remind you of the wonderful time your had on your vacation in Bryson City or Cherokee, NC and your rental cabin from Yellow Rose. Happy polishing!

Gem Mining in the Smokies – How it Works

Gem mining in the Smokies, Gem Mining Western North Carolina, Yellow Rose Realty Vacation Cabin Rentals, Thiings to do in the Smokies
While enjoying your vacation cabin rental in the heart of the North Carolina Smokies,  you may want to try your hand at gem mining. Our previous posts discuss what kind of gems you might find, where to go and what to bring with you. Now, let’s look at how it all works!

Times of Year To Go Mining: Most mines in the area are open from spring through autumn. While some mines charge a daily admission fee, most sell gem dirt by the bucket or bag. A few allow you to dig your own dirt from a specified area.

Two Types of “Dirt”: There are two different types of “dirt” you can get. Some mines have only “native” dirt, which means that you are getting a bucket of dirt straight from the ground in the mine. You may or may not find anything in it but whatever you do find is an authentic gem from Western North Carolina. Others have what they call “enriched” dirt in addition to native buckets. These buckets of dirt are “salted” with gems bought at shows. They most likely are not gems native to the area.

For beginners or for young children who want the quick payoff, an enriched bucket is really the way to go. The colorful stones are easy to see and exciting to find. For those with more experience, the native buckets are a great challenge.

Step 1: After deciding which type of bucket you want, it is time to get down to business. You will be provided with a sifter box; a wooden box with a screen on the bottom that lets water and dirt rush out but keeps your gems and rocks inside. Take your bucket and sifter box and have a seat next to the flume, which is a shallow trough with water running through it. The running water will help you wash the dirt of the rocks and stones in your bucket.

Step 2: Pour some of the dirt from your bucket into the sifter and place it in the water. Shake the sifter from side to side and move it up and down in the water to rinse away the dirt. If you have an enriched bucket, the job won’t be too difficult. Stones are clean when mixed into the dirt, so it will wash off easily. If you have a native bucket, it will take more time and effort. Rinsing the dirt off native stones is a bit more challenging and the gems are still surrounded by their matrix, a crusty gray protective barrier.

Step 3: Push large rocks aside and gather smaller gravel into a mound at the center of your tray. Push your hands down onto the pile and move it in a circular motion to help remove the dirt. Rinse your stones and rub again. Repeat the process until no more mud is visible on your hands. Spread your clean stones into one layer and look carefully for glints of lavender, pink or deep purple-red.  Don’t forget to check those larger chunks you set aside. Chances are they’re just rocks but you never know – there could be something amazing hiding within!

If it’s your lucky day, the mud will be washed away to reveal spectacular treasures in your sifter! Rubies are silky red; garnets reddish brown; and note that sapphires come in just about every color there is! Quartz, a favorite among gem hunters, is a smoky clear color. Mine staff are usually on hand to help show you what to look for because gem stones in their natural state look nothing like the brilliantly colored cut gems we see as the final product.

We hope you have a wonderful time on your gem mining adventure! There are a lot of gem mines in the area, many just a short drive away from Bryson City, NC and your vacation cabin rental from Yellow Rose. Happy hunting!

The History of Gem Mining in Western North Carolina

Gem Mining in Franklin, NC, Fun things to do in the Smoky MountainsWhile visiting the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains, there are many great ways to enjoy nature while getting a little dose of local history. One fun and exciting way is to try your hand at gem mining!

Western North Carolina has a complex geologic history, resulting in rich deposits of beautiful gems and minerals that attract gem hunters, rock collectors, mineralogists and geologists alike. Thousands of people visit gem mines in Western North Carolina each year in the hopes of discovering their own unique treasures. Some truly incredible finds have been made over the years, including the 1070-carat Cherokee Chief Ruby and the world’s largest blue star sapphire. While there are mines throughout the area, the nearby town of Franklin, NC is known as the Gem Mining Capital of the World!

Sapphires and rubies are both variations of corundum. Second only to diamonds in hardness, corundum is used as an industrial abrasive. Commercial mining of corundum began in and around Franklin in 1870 and was an important industry for many years. Tiffany’s showed an interest in the area in the 1890’s but because a steady, consistent source of corundum could not be found, they did not set up operation. Commercial mining continued until synthetic corundum became a cheaper solution for industrial needs. The mines were abandoned and forgotten until locals and tourists became interested in them for mining their own rubies and sapphires!

We tend to think of sapphires as blue, but they can be green, pink, yellow and other colors. All colors of corundum are called sapphire except one: red corundum is always a ruby. Other precious stones commonly found in our area include garnet, amethyst, amazonite, beryl, jasper, moonstone, peridot, quartz, topaz, tourmaline, aquamarine and emerald. To learn more, visit the Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum, which offers free admission.

Your Bryson City or Cherokee vacation cabin rental from Yellow Rose Realty is only a short drive away from one of many gem mines in the area. Why not take some time to try your luck? Who knows, you may just have the next big find! Stay tuned for our next installment about how gem mining works. Happy hunting!