Travel The Road to Nowhere
Just beyond Swain County high school in Bryson City, North Carolina, you will find “The Road to Nowhere”. To locals, it is a memory of broken promises dating back to World War II. To my family, it has become a must-do on each trip to Western North Carolina.
Shortly after we were married, we took this epic photo (which is printed on a canvas in our bedroom).
On our most recent trip to Bryson City, we recreated the photo and included our girls.
History of The Road to Nowhere
The best information I’ve found about the history of the Road to Nowhere can be found on this website. In short, back in the 1930’s and 40’s some of Swain County’s private land was given to the Federal Government. During World War II hundreds of people in these communities were forced out of their homes and Old Highway 288 became buried under Fontana Lake.
The government was to replace the road and stretch from Bryson City to Fontana. However, when an environmental issue arose all construction stopped and the citizens named the road “The Road to Nowhere”
In 2010 a legal settlement was reached in regards to The Road to Nowhere.
It’s a really interesting read, so I’d be sure to check out the history on the Bryson City Website.
From Bryson City, take Everet street until it turns into Lakeshore Drive and ends. There is a small parking section just outside the tunnel.
Things to Do in the Road to Nowhere
The Road to Nowhere can be an all-day adventure or just an hour or two. It’s really up to you, and what you want to do. Please be aware, if you are traveling with your family there can be some inappropriate graffiti on the walls. If you just shine your light down at your feet and not at the walls, you won’t even notice it.
Walk through the Tunnel
During your visit, you can simply walk from one end of the tunnel to the other. It will take you less than an hour, you can snap a few fun photos and be on your way.
There are a few trails just beyond the Road to Nowhere. The Gold Mine Loop is only 1.2 miles. However, my Apple Watch claimed we hiked closer to 4 miles. Either way, the hike was awesome. Even with our young girls, we enjoyed this hike.
We had the privilege of having a Bryson City local join us, so we got to learn the history. See some things we might not have. He also escorted us to Fontana Lake. Just off the trail a bit, you can actually walk down to Fontana Lake, which was such a neat experience. We even got to see some bear tracks while we were down there. If you are going to hike The Road to Nowhere, don’t forget your snacks. #momfail I left all the snacks in the car and only took some water with us.
Tips for Hiking with Toddlers
When hiking with toddlers, safety is the #1 concern. We want our children to explore and enjoy the hike but we also want them to be safe. Here are a couple recommendations for hiking with your children.
- Use a Baby Carrier
If your toddlers are young enough or small enough to fit in a baby carrier, bring it along. Our girls (4,3 & 2) all took a turn or two in the baby carrier for this hike. This is my favorite one*
- Buddy System
We made sure at least one adult was with each of the girls during the entirety of the hike. Helping climb up and down the mountain and give the opportunity to take a rest break throughout the hike.
Have a Picnic
The Road to Nowhere is a great spot for a picnic. Either on the other side of the tunnel or somewhere on the trail. The Road to Nowhere is a beautiful destination for a quiet picnic.
Have you considered family photos at the Road to Nowhere? Either with the beautiful foliage or the tunnel, this could be the next location for your family photo.
Exploring the Road to Nowhere
There are many things to do on The Road to Nowhere if you’ve been – leave a comment below! Let me know what you think!
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9 thoughts on “Travel The Road to Nowhere, Bryson City N.C.”
A great little history lesson and I and my husband always like to explore and hike new places.
Thanks for stopping by – there is something so magical about small towns and all the history they hold.
Wow this is very interesting and what a great way to learn some history about it! Thank you for sharing.
I love all the charm and history in Bryson City, NC. It’s worth a trip!
I LOVE the Road to Nowhere hike! As a local western North Carolina resident, this one is practically in my own back yard. You captured it quite nicely. Love it!
This is so cool! I just moved to NC and have been looking for fun things to see and do. I will definitely check this out, thanks!
This is so cool! I just moved here to NC and have been looking for fun things to see and do. I will definitely check this out, thanks!
This looks like such a fun hike! Love your tips, as well!
Cute before and after photo in 2009 and now. I love those kind of photos !