We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Route advice -Fontana Dam & Road to Nowhere from Nantahala

Level Contributor
366 posts
55 reviews
Save Topic
Route advice -Fontana Dam & Road to Nowhere from Nantahala

I will be cross-posting this in the GSMNP forum, but I'm hoping there are some locals lurking here that can provide some good advice.

When I called in July to book our room in Townsend for October, our favorite hotel wasn't available on the first night of our trip. We decided that we'd take advantage of that by taking an alternate route into GSMNP that would put us on the road for 8 hours the first day instead of the usual 10. We'll be spending the first night at Lake Ocoee in Tennessee, then meandering our way up to the park, taking our time and enjoying sights that we don't normally see. Since I'm not as familiar with this part of the area, I'm looking for some advice about the best route to take.

Here's what we want to do: Wake up on Tuesday morning and enjoy the views of the lake for a bit before taking our time driving up 64 through the Ocoee River Valley. We'll stop at overlooks and will probably make a stop at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, though I don't know if we'll hike any trails there or not. We'll continue along 64 and will lunch at Nantahala Outdoor Center. Had planned to eat at Pizza By the River, but they just switched to Fall hours and are now only open on weekends. :( We'll spend a little bit of time on the NOC campus before continuing on our way. This is where I need help.

We want to visit Fontana Dam and the Road to Nowhere. Not planning to spend a lot of time hiking the Road to Nowhere, but we both want to get some photos of the tunnel surrounded by fall color. Once we're finished in the Bryson City area, we'll make our way on toward the main area of the park, taking our time because we plan to be at Clingman's Dome for sunset before eventually making our way on into Townsend for the night.

I need route advice regarding the best way to get to Fontana Dam from the area of Hwy 64 where we will be (near NOC) and the best way to get to Lakeview Drive. Is there anything else that we need to see as we make this drive that day? I'm not interested in driving Tail of the Dragon, though we'll be seeing both the south end and the north end of it on this trip, since we'll also be driving the Foothills Parkway West at some point during our trip. We stayed in Bryson City this summer, so we're already familiar with the railroad and Deep Creek.

Any advice or suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated. I'm excited about exploring these areas that are new to us.

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
607 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Route advice -Fontana Dam & Road to Nowhere from Nantahala

When the road from NOC center dead ends. Take a left onto hwy. 28. Will take you to the dam. A very pretty drive.

Level Contributor
366 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Route advice -Fontana Dam & Road to Nowhere from Nantahala

Very helpful. Thanks Atlanta!

Whittier, North...
Level Contributor
46 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Route advice -Fontana Dam & Road to Nowhere from Nantahala

At NOC you can eat at Rivers End Restaurant on the water. Casual and good food. They also have Big Wesser BBQ & Brew - also on the river. If you want to see NOC then yes take 28 to the Dam. Then to get back to Bryson City and the Road to Nowhere you will retrace back on 28 to get to 74 and Bryson City. Stop at the Visitor Center in the Old Courthouse in Bryson and they have plenty of maps and info. It's open daily. GreatSmokies.com

Another possibility, which would involve skipping NOC is to take 129 off of 74 at Topton. This takes you through Robbinsville, past Santeetlah Lake and beside the Cheoah River. You would see the Cheoah Dam (from Fugitive movie), Tapoco Lodge (nice lunch spot), then drive past Deal's Gap (southern end of the Dragon starts there) and circle back around on 28 to the Dam driving past the Little Tennessee River. Fontana Village is a great place to eat as well. Then following 28 to 74 to Bryson City.

Either way, you should stop at the Stecoah Valley Center gallery in Stecoah (on 28). It's an old school that has a beautiful gallery of local artisans work. StecoahValleyCenter.com

Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
46,716 posts
1,496 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Route advice -Fontana Dam & Road to Nowhere from Nantahala

From Hwy 64, heading East, we turn off onto Hwy 129 at Murphy, taking it up to Topton, where 129 turns to the North. At Tapoco, we pick up Hwy 28, to the dam.

We have taken Hwy 28 (slow but lovely) down to Almond, picking up Hwy 74 into Bryson City.

From there, we like the "old road" Hwy 19, into Cherokee, but Hwy 74 is probably quite a bit quicker.

Now, and for us, those trips are usually NOT getting us to where we're spending the night, and nowadays are just day-trips, and not the end of an extended road trip.

Good luck, and travel safely,


5. Re: Route advice -Fontana Dam & Road to Nowhere from Nantahala

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 11 January 2017, 00:17
Get answers to your questions about Bryson City
Recent Conversations