The North Carolina Explorer

The Tapoco Lodge & Snowbird Mountains in Autumn

  • the historic Tapoco Lodge | Fontana and Santeetlah lakes | the Cherohala Skyway | Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest


October 25 - 28, 2022


  • Lodging for three nights at the spacious, beautiful Tapoco Lodge – bordering the idyllic, cascading Cheoah River
  • Small group driving tours and outdoor exploration in the land of lakes and forests
  • Great stories on location, featuring the history and culture of the area
  • Exploration of the Cherohala Skyway (parkway), and Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Trip Description

The quintessential Explore Up Close ramble, taking in the beautiful scenery and learning about the significant figures that helped shape North Carolina’s Far West.

Let’s explore North Carolina’s “far west” – Graham County: home of the Tapoco Lodge, the grave of Cherokee warrior, Junaluska, and some of the Southeast’s most beguiling forests, lakes, and two-lane roads.

I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree,

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest, against the earth’s sweet flowing breast,

A tree who looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray . . .

Let’s explore North Carolina’s “far west” – Graham County: home of the Tapoco Lodge, the grave of Chief Junaluska, and some of the Southeast’s most beguiling forests, lakes, and two-lane roads. We’ll make the Tapoco our base for three nights. Snuggle into comfortable quarters, enjoy the spaciousness of the grounds, outdoor seating at the riverside café, and the historic ambiance. We’ll spend one day exploring points west, including Joyce Kilmer Forest, the Snowbird Lodge, and the Cherohala Skyway – with its views and stories. We’ll return to Tapoco in time for excellent R & R, with an optional walk or hike on the grounds. We’ll spend another day taking in local crafts, learning the history of the area’s Native Americans, timber and hydroelectric projects, and taking in lovely lakeside and valley drives. This trip promises to introduce our group to plenty of hidden stories and places, in a scenic region that lies removed from population centers.

Tapoco Lodge

Historic Tapoco Lodge Resort, Tapoco Road, Robbinsville, NC, USA

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Cheoah Ranger District, Nantahala National Forest, Joyce Kilmer Road, Robbinsville, NC, USA

Cherohala Skyway

Cherohala Skyway, Robbinsville, NC, USA

Snowbird Mountain Lodge

Snowbird Mountain Lodge, Santeetlah Road, Robbinsville, NC, USA

Featured Experiences

The Tapoco Lodge

The Historic Tapoco Lodge was built in 1930 by the Aluminum Company of America as part of hydroelectric efforts in Graham and Swain counties of North Carolina. The name Tapoco comes from the first two letters of the Tallassee Power Company which began construction of the Cheoah Dam in 1916. Today, the Lodge is owned by Ronnie and Terry Hedrick, who have lovingly updated it while maintaining the historical integrity.

Stories of the Cherokee

Discover the powerful history of the Cherokee people, on location in their ancestral lands.

The Cheoah Dam

Visit the Cheoah Dam, in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina – where a famous movie star went missing (in a film, shot here) in 1993! The Little Tennessee River flows north and west from its sources into Tennessee, framing the southern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains en route. The river’s swiftness made it a prize for electricity developers, beginning early in the 20th century.

What's Included

  • Comfortable transportation
  • Accommodation for 3 nights
  • Breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$2,289 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $435)

What's Not Included

Price does not include alcohol, other meals, personal expenditures, or optional trip insurance.

..well-planned, from interesting and fun excursions planned each day, to comfortable lodging and transportation. Our trip leaders, Chumley and Khal, were impressive with their knowledge of each area we explored and gracious in their planning of every aspect of our trips.

Trip insurance safeguards your travel investment, your belongings, and most importantly, you. Though trip insurance is optional, we strongly encourage travelers to purchase trip insurance in the event you have to cancel or leave a trip for any reason. Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing travel insurance. Please confirm with Explore Up Close before making any additional travel arrangements.

Once you have received confirmation from Explore Up Close, we recommend contacting a travel insurance provider directly to request a quote and compare pricing and features. You can find other providers that may fit your needs at, or we can gladly connect you with our travel agent.

This trip departs from Greenville / Spartanburg, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina. If you live elsewhere, please contact us to discuss travel arrangements, and we will look forward to assisting you!

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