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Despite the forced relocation of their tribe along the Trail of Tears in 1838, a few hardy Cherokee managed to cling on to their ancestral homelands and create the eponymous town which is now home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and the Oconaluftee Indian Village offer an insightful look at their vibrant culture and long and fascinating history and make an ideal introduction to the region.

Great Smoky Mountains National ParkCherokee is most famous, however, as a gateway to the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Named after the bluish haze that sits over the park's heavily contorted peaks, this natural phenomenon is made up of moisture and hydrocarbons released by the lush vegetation. More than 120 species of trees and over 1,400 flowering plants clothe the mountains with colourful spring flowers, summer rhododendrons and then the blazing colours of autumn.

The mountains, which rise over 6,000 feet in height, afford dramatic vistas at any time of year and a range of spectacular driving routes wind through the park. However, nothing beats getting out on foot on one of the many lovely walking trails. Highlights of the park include Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park and in the state of Tennessee, Cades Cove, and Little River and Rich Mountain Roads. Keep a careful look out for wildlife as white-tailed deer are frequently seen, as well as bears, coyotes and wild turkeys.

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