Oconaluftee is located inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 2 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. It is a river valley in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Formerly the site of a Cherokee village and Appalachian community, the valley’s bottom land is now home to the main entrance to the North Carolina section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
There is a Vistor Center, Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill. The Mountain Farm Museum contains a fascinating collection of log structures gathered from throughout the Smoky Mountains and preserved on a single site. It includes a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, apple house, corn cribs and others. The visitor center has restrooms and telephones. There is a bookstore and gift shop with a broad selection of guides, maps and other things.
Mingus Mill is located half-mile north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Built in 1886, this historic grist mill uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building. Located at its original site, Mingus Mill stands as a tribute to the test of time.
If you are traveling to Smoky Mountains from North Carolina, you can enter Smoky Mountains National Park from Cherokee and continue via scenic US 441 until Gatlinburg, Tennessee. US 441 is a very scenic drive through the middle of Smoky National Park with scenic overlooks and trails.
Two excellent walking trails start from the vicinity. The Oconaluftee River Trail follows its Oconaluftee stream for 1.5 miles to Cherokee. Mingus Creek Trail climbs past old farms to the Smokies high country. The easy, 1.5 mile Oconaluftee River Trail begins near the entrance to the museum. It is stroller-accessible and follows the river to Cherokee, N.C.
Here are some photos from our trip to Smoky Mountains on Oct 17th and Oct 18th, 2009.