Bryson City Live Cam

It’s a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Views of the Nantahala River, explore all the many activities in the Nantahala Gorge

Hosted by:
  • Bryson City - Swain County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • North Carolina 28713 - United States
  • 828-488-3681


Bryson City is a small town located in Swain County, North Carolina, United States. It is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains and serves as the county seat. The history of Bryson City and Swain County is closely intertwined with the natural beauty of the region, Native American heritage, and the development of the railroad.

Before European settlers arrived, the area was inhabited by the Cherokee people. The Cherokee had a significant presence in the region and had established a number of settlements, including one known as "Nikwasi" near present-day Bryson City. The Cherokee way of life was disrupted when European explorers and settlers arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The European presence in the area increased during the 19th century. In 1838, the forced removal of the Cherokee people from their ancestral lands took place, known as the Trail of Tears. Many Cherokee were forced to leave their homes and relocate to Oklahoma, resulting in significant hardships and loss of life.

The arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century brought about significant changes to the area. In 1882, the Western North Carolina Railroad reached Bryson City, connecting the town to the broader region. The railroad played a crucial role in the development of the local economy, facilitating trade and tourism. Bryson City became a transportation hub, with the railroad serving as a primary means of accessing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, established in 1934.

The logging industry also thrived in Swain County during the early 20th century. The vast forests of the region provided ample resources for timber extraction. Lumber companies played a significant role in shaping the local economy and landscape. However, unsustainable logging practices led to environmental degradation, and by the mid-20th century, the logging industry began to decline.

In recent decades, Bryson City and Swain County have experienced a shift towards a tourism-based economy, capitalizing on the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains and the nearby Nantahala National Forest. Outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, and scenic drives have become popular attractions for visitors.

Bryson City's historic downtown area has retained its charm and showcases a blend of old and new buildings. The town is home to several museums and heritage sites that provide insights into the local history and culture. The Swain County Heritage Museum, for example, exhibits artifacts and displays that depict the area's past.

Today, Bryson City remains a popular destination for tourists seeking to explore the wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains. Its rich history, natural surroundings, and small-town atmosphere make it a distinctive place in Swain County and the broader region.

Top Tourist Attractions

Bryson City offers a range of attractions that cater to outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and those seeking a leisurely getaway. Here are some of the local top tourist attractions:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park: As the most visited national park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-visit attraction near Bryson City. It offers stunning mountain landscapes, diverse wildlife, hiking trails, scenic drives, and camping opportunities.
  • Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad operates scenic train rides departing from Bryson City. Visitors can enjoy excursions through the beautiful countryside, including trips along the Nantahala Gorge, Fontana Trestle, and the Tuckasegee River.
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center: Located near Bryson City, the Nantahala Outdoor Center is a renowned destination for outdoor adventure. It offers whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, and other thrilling activities. The center also hosts events and festivals throughout the year.
  • Deep Creek: Situated within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Deep Creek is a popular area for outdoor recreation. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing, tubing, and picnicking. The three cascading waterfalls—Juneywhank Falls, Indian Creek Falls, and Tom Branch Falls—are particularly scenic.
  • Fly Fishing: Bryson City is known for its excellent fly fishing opportunities. The area is home to various streams and rivers teeming with trout. Anglers can enjoy guided fishing trips, rent equipment, or explore the waters independently.
  • Smoky Mountain Trains Museum: Located in Bryson City, the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum showcases an impressive collection of model trains and historic railroad memorabilia. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the area's railroad heritage.
  • Tsali Recreation Area: Situated on the shores of Fontana Lake, the Tsali Recreation Area offers biking and hiking trails that wind through the scenic Appalachian Mountains. The trails are known for their stunning views and are popular among mountain bikers and hikers.
  • Fontana Dam: A short drive from Bryson City, Fontana Dam is the tallest dam in the eastern United States. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the dam's construction during World War II and enjoy picturesque views of Fontana Lake.
  • Swain County Heritage Museum: Located in Bryson City, the Swain County Heritage Museum provides insights into the history and culture of the area. Exhibits cover topics such as the Cherokee Nation, the logging industry, and the development of the railroad.
  • Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: Approximately an hour's drive from Bryson City, the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is a preserved tract of old-growth forest. It features towering trees, hiking trails, and the famous Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop, named after the poet and conservationist.

These attractions, along with the town's charming downtown area, shops, and restaurants, make Bryson City a captivating destination for visitors exploring the natural beauty and history of the Great Smoky Mountains.


Bryson City experiences a humid subtropical climate, characterized by mild winters and warm, humid summers. Here are some details about the climate:

  • Temperature: The average temperature in Bryson City varies throughout the year. In winter (December to February), temperatures range from around 30°F (-1°C) to the mid-50s°F (12-14°C). Summer (June to August) brings warmer temperatures, with average highs reaching the upper 80s°F (around 31-32°C). Spring and fall offer mild and pleasant temperatures.
  • Precipitation: Bryson City receives a significant amount of precipitation throughout the year. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed, with no distinct dry season. The wettest months are typically May through July, while October tends to be the driest. Snowfall is possible during winter months but is generally light.
  • Humidity: Humidity levels in Bryson City can be relatively high, particularly during the summer months. This is characteristic of the humid subtropical climate of the southeastern United States. Visitors should expect some humidity and the possibility of occasional rain showers.
  • Fall Foliage: Bryson City and the surrounding areas are known for their vibrant fall foliage. The autumn months, particularly October, offer stunning displays of colorful foliage as the leaves change from green to shades of red, orange, and yellow.

It's worth noting that the climate in the Great Smoky Mountains can vary with elevation. As Bryson City is situated in the mountains, higher elevations in the region may experience cooler temperatures and more precipitation compared to the town itself.

Visitors to Bryson City should check the local weather forecast and pack appropriate clothing for the season. It is also a good idea to bring rain gear and be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially if engaging in outdoor activities.


It sits in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. Here are some key geographical features of Bryson City:

  • Mountains: Bryson City is surrounded by picturesque mountain ranges. The Great Smoky Mountains, part of the larger Appalachian Mountains, dominate the landscape. The peaks in the area rise to impressive heights, with Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, reaching 6,643 feet (2,025 meters) above sea level.
  • Rivers and Lakes: Several rivers and lakes add to the natural beauty of Bryson City. The Tuckasegee River flows through the town, providing opportunities for fishing, tubing, and scenic river walks. Fontana Lake, created by the construction of the Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River, is located just a short drive from Bryson City. The lake offers boating, fishing, and stunning views.
  • National Parks and Forests: Bryson City is in close proximity to two significant protected areas. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, encompasses vast areas of pristine wilderness, diverse ecosystems, and scenic beauty. Nantahala National Forest, known for its lush forests, waterfalls, and recreational opportunities, is also nearby.
  • Valleys and Gorges: Bryson City is situated in a valley surrounded by rugged mountains. The town itself is located in the Tuckasegee River Valley. Nearby, the Nantahala Gorge, a dramatic river gorge carved by the Nantahala River, offers breathtaking scenery and outdoor adventures such as whitewater rafting and hiking.
  • Appalachian Trail: The famous Appalachian Trail, a long-distance hiking trail that stretches over 2,100 miles (3,380 kilometers) from Georgia to Maine, passes near Bryson City. Hikers can access sections of the trail in the vicinity, offering opportunities for day hikes or extended backpacking trips.

The geographical features of Bryson City and its surroundings contribute to its popularity as an outdoor recreational destination. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, rafting, and exploring the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains region.