5 Enchanting Spots in Cherokee to Welcome Spring!3.28.2018
Goodbye snowy days of winter, hello warm spring afternoons! Although the beginning of this season always starts out with chilly weather, we have passed the official starting line of spring. Yay for longer days and time spent in the beautiful outdoors! As the flowers return to Cherokee lands and the blossoms appear on the trees, we are extra excited to welcome guests looking for springtime adventure in Cherokee, NC.
Here are five must-see experiences this spring!
1. Travel Back in Time
Open for the 2018 season from April 30 through November 11, the Oconaluftee Indian Village is a place frozen in time. Catch a glimpse of what life was like in 18th century Cherokee: what people wore, what crafts they created, how they danced, and what battles may have looked like. Special Time of War reenactments based on an event in Cherokee history take place on select days and times.
The first half of the Village includes a 20- to 30- minute guided tour through craft demonstrations, which include beadwork, fingerweaving, pottery, woodcarving, and weaponry, among others. The lower half of the Village is self-guided, with historical interpreters along the way.
Also presented by the Cherokee Historical Association, renowned outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” will begin its season in a couple months, running from June 2 to August 18. For more on the Oconaluftee Indian Village and “Unto These Hills,” visit the Cherokee Historical Association online.
2. Put Your Best Swing Forward
“One thing I enjoy about playing golf in the spring is being out here and seeing so much of nature coming back to life,” says Carr Crowe, Head Golf Professional, PGA, at Sequoyah National Golf Club. “It’s perfect weather and everything is starting to bloom. You get excited about the rest of the golf season.”
Carr says the busiest time on the course is late april until late November. With 17 holes, this par 72 championship course measures 6,600 yards and, with its Robert Trent Jones II design, features 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Keep up with all the upcoming tournaments and events by following the Sequoyah National Golf Club on Facebook.
3. Support Cherokee Artisans
Amazed by the handwork you watched in the Oconaluftee Indian Village? Take some beauty home with you! In addition to the Indian Village’s gift shop, there is another place to stop for mementos. Founded in 1946, Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual is the oldest Native American cooperative of its kind. Hundreds of EBCI members display their traditional arts and crafts in this shop.
Manager Vicki Cruz is excited for guests to look through the assortment of Easter baskets and choose their favorites. “I want the baskets to represent decoration for the home and possibly an Easter basket to collect,” says Vicki. Several ribbons adorn the basket area, denoting winning artists from the Cherokee Indian Fair last October. Other spring-themed items include wood carved rabbits, rabbit potholders, fish paintings, wooden bowls, table runners, hot mats, and cane fishing poles. “There are a lot of new Cherokee crafts that we have been purchasing since the first of March,” says Vicki. “New crafts include Cherokee baskets, wood carvings, beadwork, pottery, and finger weaving.”
4. Learn Something New
Located across the street from Qualla Arts & Crafts, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian hosts permanent and visiting exhibits that celebrate Cherokee culture–past, present, and future. Audio tours are available to the public for $2 per person. They are available in English, Spanish, and German. New displays and touch screen computers in the Museum Lobby highlight things to do in Cherokee, the Museum’s exhibits, and items from the collections.
Barbara Duncan, Education Director at the Museum, says, “June 9 will be the 21st annual Cherokee Voices Festival, along with the grand opening of our new gallery and its first exhibit, featuring Cherokee artists of the millennial generation.”
You know you’ve made it to the Museum when you see a 22-foot tall wooden bust of Sequoyah, a Cherokee silversmith who developed the Cherokee Syllabary, near the entrance. Read more about the statue and Sequoyah’s legacy.
5. Get Your Heart Pumping
Are you an outdoorsy type? Free and open to the public every day, the Fire Mountain Trails is a wonderful way to get out in lovely nature. This 10.5-mile, mixed-use network is made for guests of all activity levels—from beginning hikers to expert cyclists. Responsible dog owners are welcome to bring their furry friends for the adventure.
The planning process for the trails began in 2014 and the project was completed in June 2017. The trailhead is conveniently located a hundred yards from the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, NC, where it also shares a parking lot.
We’re Glad You’re Here!
Our hope is that this list has helped you plan your trip to Cherokee (make it twice as nice and stay two nights!). In addition to the kiosks inside the Museum, the Cherokee Welcome Center at 498 Tsali Blvd is a great place to find information on the many attractions within the Cherokee Reservation. Pick up informational brochures, including one on the Bears Project. See how many of these bears you can spot in town!
Whatever the season, Cherokee is a special place for residents and visitors—and wildlife! This season, keep an eye out for spring peepers (frogs), hellbenders (salamanders), warblers, and other animals (more listed here!). We’ll see you soon!