Nantahala National Forest

Mountain view from Cherohala Skyway

Welcome to the Nantahala National Forest! The Nantahala National Forest lies in the mountain and valleys of southwestern North Carolina. The largest of North Carolina's four National Forests, the Nantahala encompasses 531,148 acres with elevations ranging from 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along Hiwassee River. The Forest is divided into three Districts, Cheoah in Robbinsville, NC, Tusquitee in Murphy, NC, and the Nantahala in Franklin, NC. All district names come from the Cherokee language. "Nantahala" is a Cherokee word meaning "land of the noon day sun," a fitting name for the Nantahala Gorge, where the sun only reaches to the valley floor at midday.The Nantahala National Forest was established in 1920 under authority of the 1911 Weeks Act. This act provided authority to acquire lands for national forests to protect watersheds, to provide timber, and to regulate the flow of navigable streams. In the Nantahala National Forest, visitors enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities from whitewater rafting to camping. With over 600 miles of trails, opportunities exist for hikers, mountain bikers, horse-back riders and off-highway vehicle riders.

Camping and Day-use Information

Enjoy camping or a picnic at one of the many day-use areas. A list of camping and day-use areas in the Nantahala National Forest can be found here.

Recreation Maps

Nantahala & Pisgah National Forest Maps

Be Safe

The national forests in North Carolina offer a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. From the mountains to the sea, there are many exciting adventures awaiting your visit to these national forests. Please keep in mind that all outdoor recreational activities on the Croatan, Pisgah, Nantahala and Uwharrie national forests, including activities at recreation sites, have inherent risks due to the natural setting in which they occur. Always remember, your safety is your responsibility.

Waterfall Safety for the Summer.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

Areas for Campground Camping at Nantahala National Forest

RV Camping

Areas for RV Camping at Nantahala National Forest

Group Camping

Areas for Group Camping at Nantahala National Forest

Dispersed Camping

Areas for Dispersed Camping at Nantahala National Forest

Cabin Rentals

Areas for Cabin Rentals at Nantahala National Forest

Rock Climbing

Areas for Rock Climbing at Nantahala National Forest

Lake and Pond Fishing

Areas for Lake and Pond Fishing at Nantahala National Forest

River and Stream Fishing

Areas for River and Stream Fishing at Nantahala National Forest

Day Hiking

Areas for Day Hiking at Nantahala National Forest


Areas for Backpacking at Nantahala National Forest

Big Game Hunting

Areas for Big Game Hunting at Nantahala National Forest

Small Game Hunting

Areas for Small Game Hunting at Nantahala National Forest

OHV Trail Riding

Areas for OHV Trail Riding at Nantahala National Forest

Target Shooting

Areas for Target Shooting at Nantahala National Forest

Interpretive Areas

Areas for Interpretive Areas at Nantahala National Forest

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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