Day Trips and Local Recommendations

Discover more below about eco-tours and elk viewing, whitewater rafting, flyfishing, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the towns of Asheville, Cherokee, Waynesville and Maggie Valley, lake excursions, fun for kids, and even massage at the Ranch.

Eco-Tours & Elk Viewing

60 minutes from ranch

"Try one of the great eco-tours of Cataloochee Valley, one of the most beautiful and remote spots in the Smoky Mountains," says Cataloochee Ranch owner Ames Alexander.

CATALOOCHEE VALLEY TOURS will show you the elk, the wildflowers, and in June, the synchronous fireflies. Tours are year-round. ~ (828) 450-7985

Whitewater Rafting

45 to 75 minutes from ranch

Always fun! Family-friendly whitewater with Class II and Class III rapids on the Nantahala River with NANTAHALA OUTDOOR CENTER. ~ (828) 785-4847 ~ 60 to 75 minutes from Ranch

Or try waterwater rafting on the Pigeon River in Bryson City with WILDWATER RAFTING After your whitewater adventure, ease down the road about a mile to Bean Trees Cafe for lunch and a couple of beers by the river, or whatever floats your boat. ~ (828) 488-238445 ~ 45 to 50 minutes from Ranch

Fly Fishing

60 minutes from ranch

Take a private, all-inclusive guided fishing trip out of Cherokee or Bryson City with FLY FISHING THE SMOKIES. Wade Trips, Drift Boat Trips, Beginner Classes and instruction. Your choice of Half Day or Full Day Trips. (828) 488-7665

Another option is to hook up with one of the guides who work the WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA FLY FISHING TRAIL, which has 15 fishing spots. and

Maggie Valley & Waynesville

Maggie valley is 10 minutes from Ranch, Waynesville is 20 minutes

Maggie Valley is a great little small town. The Wheels Through Time Motorcyle Museum attracts visitors from all over the USA. Elevated Mountain Distilling Company gives tours and delicious samples. The Stomping Ground is referred to as the "clogging capital of the world." For a calendar of events at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, click here.

In Waynesville, enjoy five-star farm-to-table dining at The Chef's Table. The Sweet Onion and Frogs Leap Public House are other favorites. Have a brew at Frog Level Brewing or Boojum Brewing. Try a peach soda from the high-end soda company Waynesville Soda Jerks ("Southern Appalachia in a bottle"). Main Street has great stores, such as Mast General and High Country. Another favorite is Hazelwood Soap Company in the nearby Hazelwood area. For addresses and phone numbers, click here.


45 minutes from Ranch

Visit the BILTMORE ESTATE - Begin with the breathtaking beauty of 250-room Biltmore House and century-old gardens. Explore the 8,000-acre backyard through a variety of activities from horseback riding to rafting. Experience Antler Hill Village that connects the estate's present and past, providing a relaxing place for dining, shopping, historical exhibits, and new ways to enjoy Biltmore's hospitality. ~ (800) 411-3812 ~ Plan to spend the whole day.

Ames Alexander's family also enjoys LEXINGTON GLASSWORKS in downtown Asheville, "where you can watch artists create amazing pieces of hand-blown glass." 81 S. Lexington Ave. ~ (828) 252-0212

MICROBREWERIES - The craft beer scene in Asheville is booming. Tons of options include Highland Brewing Company, Pisgah Brewing, Twin Leaf Brewing, and Wicked Weed Brewing. For a guided brewery tour, including round trip transportation from the Ranch, call Leap Frog Tours at (828) 507-1421.

OTHER - There's a nice film theater on Biltmore Avenue named The Fine Arts Theater (828) 232-1536. Enjoy dinner and great live music at either Isis Music Hall (828) 575-2737 ~ or The Grey Eagle (828) 232-5800 ~ Lots of culinary destinations, art galleries, and window browsing in downtown Asheville. Great clothes shopping at Biltmore Village.

Blue Ridge Parkway

15 to 20 miles from Ranch

WATERROCK KNOB - This incredible lookout is the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern U.S. Located at Milepost 451.2, it features the last hiking trail along the Parkway before you reach the Great Smoky Mountains. To get there, drive to the bottom of Fie Top Road, take a right, and follow the road until you go under a bridge. Right after the bridge take an immediate left, and then another right turn. After this, you will be on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you can explore each turn-off or head straight to Waterrock Knob. 20 minutes from Ranch

BIG CREEK - To get to this beautiful trail, take Interstate 40 to the NC - Tennessee border. Take exit 451 and drive past the Waterville hydroelectric plant. Follow the brown park service signs past the intersection at Mt. Sterling Gap and into the park. Be aware of pick-up trucks that are towing horse trailers on this narrow dirt road. The distance from the exit on the Interstate to the entrance of the Big Creek area is less than three miles. About an hour from Ranch

GRAVEYARD FIELDS - This looped trail on the Parkway is a special favorite of Cataloochee neighbor Penny Redfern. Hike down a well maintained, shady trail to the big waterfall. Located at Milepost 418.8 ( "A little further down the Parkway, The Pisgah Inn is a good spot for a late lunch after your hike. Enjoy their spectacular view, " says Penny. Round trip with lunch, 4 hours

SOCO FALLS - A double waterfall on the edge of the Cherokee Indian Reservation. To get to the waterfall, go down Fie Top Road, turn right at the bottom at the four lane, and go past the Blue Ridge Parkway for 1.5 miles. Look for a sign before you arrive at the waterfall which reads "Soco Falls 1/2 mile ahead." There will be a small roadside parking area on the left once you arrive. You can hear the falls from the roadside parking. 15-20 miles from Ranch


30 minutes from Ranch

This is a favorite trip for the Aumens, of Cataloochee Ranch.

OCONALUFTEE INDIAN VILLAGE is much more than just a place; it's living history. Join Cherokee cultural experts on an interactive journey through Cherokee lifestyle and history. Your guide will show you the way through the winding paths, flanked with traditional Cherokee dwellings, work areas, and sacred ritual sites. Delight in cultural dances amid the swaying oaks and sycamores. As you wander, interact with villagers as they hull canoes, sculpt pottery and masks, weave baskets, and fashion beadwork. ~ (828) 497-2111

MOUNTAIN FARM MUSEUM is a self-guided walk through a working 1800's homestead with authentic log houses, outbuildings for crops, barn, and split-rail fences. A wonderfully preserved bit of history.

CHEROKEE CREEK "We love to visit Cherokee and play in the creek," Ashli Aumen says. "There is a huge island, lots of picnic tables, real bathrooms, and shade. KFC is located across the road from the creek. Easy way to picnic and play in the water!" Cherokee includes many shops, outdoors areas, and museums. The creek runs through the middle of town.

TUBING ON THE CREEK - The creek always has lots of kids and adults tubing. (Cherokee Rapids Tube and Kayak Rentals: ~ (828) 736-4237) Cherokee Rapids will take you two miles up the Oconaluftee River. You'll float back to where you started and your car is waiting. Enjoy the scenery, swimming holes and rope swing. Other vendors include Cherokee Tube ( and Smoky Mountain Tubing (828) 497-4545.

Day Trips to Lakes

25 to 90 minutes from Ranch

At NANTAHALA LAKE enjoy summer swimming in a deep lake and rent a pontoon boat. About 90 minutes from Ranch.

LAKE LOGAN in nearby Canton is a beautiful retreat site where you can buy a $5 day pass for swimming, fishing or hiking along the banks. Visitors must call ahead to ensure the property is available on the day requested. (828)646-0095, About 25 minutes from Ranch.

More Fun Stuff for Kids

45 to 90 minutes from Ranch

WATER PARK! Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has a great water park for kids. ~ About 90 minutes away.

ASHEVILLE FUN DEPOT - Family entertainment center featuring indoor and outdoor go-carts, indoor mini-golf now with black light holes, multi-level laser tag, climbing wall, bumper cars, arcade gallery, and mini-bowling. The upstairs area is enclosed with soft plays, inflatables, a tot area, plus much more. (828) 277-2386

ASHEVILLE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE - the premier exploratory science experience in downtown Asheville. With fully interactive exhibits, street level access, and a variety of educational programs. (828) 254-7162

BOTANICAL GARDENS AT ASHEVILLE - A 10-acre wooded enclave near central Asheville, the botanical gardens shelter some 600 species of Appalachian wildflowers, flowering shrubs, and flowering trees. A half-mile trail loops through the property. (828) 252-5190

Get a Massage in Your Room or Cabin

take a trip and never leave the Ranch

CHARLENE QUINN, LMBT offers in-cabin massages. She specializes in deep tissue and myofascial release. The cost is $85 for 60 minutes or $105 for 90 minutes. Also available, couples massage for $170. Just call the front desk at (828) 926-1401 to make an appointment during your stay at the Ranch. You'll be glad you did.