Located near the Cherokee Indian Reservation, 270 mi/435 km southwest of Raleigh, and adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee has plenty of hotels and is a much-used gateway to the park. Qualla Boundary is the name of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, home of the Eastern Band of the nation (those who escaped the forced move to Oklahoma over the infamous Trail of Tears). The town of Cherokee features the state-of-the-art Museum of the Cherokee Indian; Oconaluftee Indian Village (a community re-created to appear as it would have in the late 1700s); and the summer symphonic outdoor drama Unto These Hills, which tells the story of the Cherokee from 1540 through their removal to the West. The Cherokee Indian Heritage Days (songs, dances, arts and crafts) take place in July, and another Indian fair takes place in the fall. Just north of Cherokee is the ski area of Cataloochee (Maggie Valley), which has nine slopes and a vertical drop of 740 ft/226 m.

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