My Smoky Mountain Guide & Podcast

5. Cherohala Skyway

Cherohala Skyway | Robbinsville, NC to Tellico Plains, NC | Eleven Popular Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

Cherohala Skyway | Photo: Monroe County, Tennessee, Department of Tourism

Route: Cherohala Skyway
Type: Point to Point
Begin: Robbinsville, NC
End: Tellico Plains, TN
Travel Time: 1.5 hours
Distance:  51.8 miles
Highlights: Two national forests, long curves, scenic views, leisurely ride, low traffic

The Cherohala Skyway was a long time coming. In 1996, after thirty-four years of construction, this amazing route opened between Tellico Plains, Tennessee and Robbinsville, North Carolina; and it is worth the wait.

According to many motorcycling enthusiasts, this route is one of the best motorcycle rides in the United States.



Cherohala Skyway passes through two national forests, the Cherokee and the Nantahala. The name for the skyway is derived by combining “Chero” from Cherokee and “hala” from Nantahala.

Cherohala Skyway Fall Leaves

Cherohala Skyway Fall Leaves

Since the Skyway is a point to point ride, it really doesn’t matter if you begin in Robbinsville and end in Tellico Plains or vice versa. Either way, the 51.8 miles of road in front of you are straight out of a dream.

NOTE: Officially, the Cherohala Skyway is 43 miles long as it begins a few miles into the drive. However, we are including the road from beginning to end in our mileage total.

Since this ride can be completed in well under two hours, we suggest completing the ride without stopping and then backtracking to stop at one or more of the 15 scenic overlooks and picnic areas.

You may find it impossible to pass up the scenic vistas the first time, and that’s okay. It’s your ride, enjoy it your way!

Of course, if you are not returning to your starting point via the Skyway, please stop and enjoy the scenery.

The Santeetlah Overlook is a must stop for anyone wanting the complete experience. This overlook is located in North Carolina, about 7 miles from the Tennessee state line.

The views from this overlook are amazing given that it sits at 5,390 feet, the highest elevation on the Cherohala Skyway.

Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center

Another stop you need to consider is the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center in Tellico Plains. Owned by Monroe County, the visitor center provides free travel maps and can update you on current driving conditions on the Skyway.

The gift shop is a good place to purchase local souvenirs and gifts.

The Cherohala Skyway has been designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a National Scenic Byway for good reason.

If you are anywhere in the area, take the time to drive this amazing road. You won’t regret it.

Google Map | Cherohala Skyway

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