Welcome to the Smokies

“What you need to know, and more…”

“What do we bring to the conference?”

Here’s a handy guide of what to bring, what to expect, essentials, activities suggestions, & helpful info about the area…all in a handy easy to print 4 page pdf!


Fontana Village, NC

“How will I get there?”

Fontana Village Resort is located in western North Carolina, 20 miles north of Robbinsville on Highway 28 North on the western end of Fontana Lake.

The closest airport is McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS/KTYS) in Knoxville, TN, 54 miles. From Knoxville, Tennessee, take Hwy 129 south from Knoxville to Maryville TN. Just past Maryville, Hwy129 turns left off of the four lane highway. Drive carefully. This section of this route is a beautiful, but curvy mountain road known as the “Dragon” by car & bike enthusiasts. One mile past past the TN/NC state line turn left on Hwy 28 at Deals Gap. Continue on Hwy 28 for 8.6 miles.

The second closest airport is Asheville Regional Airport (AVL/KAVL) in Asheville NC, 102 miles. From Asheville, North Carolina take I-40 west. Take the exit for Hwy 74 (Great Smoky Mountain Expressway). Stay on Hwy 74 (four lane) you will pass Clyde, Sylva, and 8 miles past Bryson City turn right on Hwy 28. Continue on Hwy 28 for 25 miles.

Check out the Fontana Village Resort property maps here.

I need to make a Fontana Village reservation.

Most BRI participants will want to stay on property at either the Lodge or in a cabin. Click here for the Fontana Village Resort map.

Click below check out the accommodations:

To make reservations for accommodations, please call Fontana Village, 800-849-2258, mention BRI for special accommodations.  Online reservations are not available for our conference and would not have access to our special accommodations. The BRI block will be released on April 26th, any rooms not already reserved will be available to anyone.  Do not delay in making your reservation.

“What is there to do? Activities? Recreation?”

There is a lot of fun to be had at Fontana Village! There are twenty miles of hiking and biking trails throughout the village. Guests can cool of in the Stone Creek Pool and Lazy River, workout in the fitness center, or enjoy a fun game of volleyball, tennis, softball, disc golf, or even mini golf on our 18-hole putt-putt course and so much more. Recreation Amenities Include (amenities we had at FCF are highlighted):

  • Stone Creek Pool and Lazy River
  • Lodge Pool
  • Fitness Center
  • Twenty Miles of Hiking and Biking Trails
  • Sand Volleyball Court
  • Tennis Courts
  • Basketball
  • Softball Diamond and Games
  • 18-Hole Professional Disc Golf Course
  • 18-Hole Mini Golf Course
  • Two Playgrounds
  • Shuffleboard
  • Game Room and Billiards Tables
  • Horseshoes
  • Cornhole Boards
  • Ladderball


Area Attractions and Things to Do


Agri-tourism and Farms:

Stoney Hollow Farms
944 Ollies Creek Rd.
Robbinsville, NC 28771
Description: Open Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8AM-6PM, Closed on Wednesday & Saturday. A “U Pick” farm with seasonal crops, educational classes and cooking classes offered, check website for current “menu” of crops and schedules and times.

Wehrloom Honey
257 Willie Colvin Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
General Description: Wehrloom honey is a family business raising honey bees and selling honey, honey infused beauty products and natural homegoods. Call for tours.

Yellow Branch Pottery and Cheese
136 Yellow Branch Cir
Robbinsville, NC 28771
(828) 479-6710
General Description: Locally owned pottery studio and craft cheeses.

Darnell Farms
2300 Governors Island Road
Bryson City, NC 28789
General Description: Darnell Farms is a working farm in Bryson City where you can pick up wonderful fresh produce. Throughout the year they sponsor many agri-tourism events such as a strawberry music festival, pumpkin patch, and fall corn maze.

Horseback Riding

Nantahala Village Riding Stables
9400 US 19
Bryson City, NC 28713

Smokemont Stables Inc
135 Smokemont Riding Stable Road (off US 441)
Cherokee, NC 28719
General Description: Authorized NPS Concessioner offering guided horseback riding within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Whitewater Rafting/Zip-lining

Wildwater Nantahala Gorge Adventure Center
10345 Hwy. 19 W.
Bryson City, NC 28713
Toll-Free Phone: 800-451-9972
Office Phone: 800-488-2384
General Description: Fully guided, guide assisted, and rental trips on the Nantahala, Ocoee, Big Pigeon, and Chattooga Rivers. Enjoy ziplining for the whole family.


Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel
777 Casino Drive
Cherokee, NC 28719
Toll-Free Phone: 877-811-0777
Office Phone: 828-497-7777
General Description: 102,000sq ft of gaming space. 3,000 seat Entertainment Center. Find your favorite Las Vegas games, including video blackjack with real dealers and real chips.

Arts and Crafts

Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center
121 School House Rd
Robbinsville, NC 28771
General Description: The Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center is a non-profit corporation formed by a group of local citizens after the closing of Stecoah School in 1994. The Center is housed in the restored 1926 Stecoah Schoolhouse. The beautiful Artisan’s Gallery is stocked with the works of more than 125 local artisans and craftsmen, including artisan foods produced on site in the commercial Stecoah Kitchen from locally grown sources. Other offerings include a Cherokee history display, beautiful grounds and walking trail, culinary workshops, and arts and crafts classes.

Bee Global Studio and Gallery
1633 Lower Stecoah Rd.
Robbinsville, NC 28771
General Description: Local candles, ornaments and other handcrafted beeswax products.

Dogwood Crafters
90 Webster Street
Dillsboro, NC 28725
General Description: The shop inventory is a constantly changing variety of beautiful and fascinating items limited only by the imagination and skill of the 100 artisans who make Dogwood Crafters what it is – a showcase of mountain crafts. Dogwood Crafters is a non-profit craft cooperative with an interesting mix of artisans. Both traditional and contemporary works can be found within the shops log walls.

The Cottage Craftsman
44 Fry St
Bryson City, NC 28713
(828) 488-6207
General Description: The Cottage Craftsman celebrates regional wines, traditional and contemporary fine art, craft, specialty foods and music with a focus on those wine makers, artists and craftsman who live, work and play in the mountains of Western North Carolina and the surrounding region.

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc.
645 Tsali Blvd.
Cherokee, NC 28719
Office Phone: 828-497-3103
General Description: Founded in 1946 and showcasing the works of over 250 members, Qualla Arts and Crafts preserves and promotes the traditional arts and crafts of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

Music and Theater

Unto These Hills…a retelling
564 Tsali Blvd
Cherokee, NC 28719
Toll-Free Phone: 866-554-4557
Office Phone: 828-497-2111
General Description: This powerful outdoor drama, re-enacts Cherokee history from the first contact with Europeans through the tragic “Trail of Tears”. The story, told from a Cherokee perspective by descendents of those who avoided removal is presented nightly except Sundays from June through mid August.

Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center
121 School House Rd
Robbinsville, NC 28771
The Center is highly acclaimed for its summer concert and dinner series, An Appalachian Evening, which features mountain roots music in the historic 300-seat air conditioned auditorium. Visitors are amazed to discover prominent and highly regarded musicians playing for small audiences in the quiet valley.

Museums and Educational

Oconaluftee Indian Village
564 Tsali Blvd
Cherokee, NC 28719
Toll-Free Phone: 866-554-4557
Office Phone: 828-497-2111
General Description: The Oconaluftee Indian Village is a re-created village of the 1700’s. Visitors experience the everyday life of the Cherokee through artisans who perform tasks done by their forefathers. Witness war council meetings, war re-enactments, traditional dances and more.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian
589 Tsali Blvd
Cherokee, NC 28719
Toll-Free Phone:
Office Phone: 828-497-3481
General Description: The Museum of the Cherokee Indian takes visitors all the way back to the beginnings of human existence here in these glorious, storied mountains of western North Carolina. The museum provides an educational and interactive experience where concise, chronological stories retrace the 11,000 year documented history of the Cherokees.

John C. Campbell Folk School
One Folk School Rd
Brasstown, NC 28902
Toll-Free Phone: 800-365-5724
Office Phone: 828-837-2775
General Description: Nation’s oldest folk school founded in 1925. Crafts, music, dance, other Appalachian traditions are taught one-week or weekend classes year-round. National Historic District. Craft Shop. History Center.

Wheels Through Time Museum Inc
62 Vintage Lane
Maggie Valley, NC 28751
Office Phone: 828-926-6266
Office Fax: 828-926-9158
General Description: A consummate collection of over 250 rare antique American Motorcycles and Automobiles. Equally as astounding is the memorabilia collection that unites the “art of the motorcycle” with the generation of Americans that enjoyed a lifestyle peculiar to the “American Mainstream.” The thrust of the museum is to educate future generations to a fascinating spectrum of Americana.

Smoky Mountain Trains Lionel Train Museum
100 Greenlee Street
Bryson City, NC 28713
Toll-Free Phone: 866-872-4681
Office Phone: 828-488-5200
General Description: Catch the spirit of model railroading. Museum ranked in top ten in U.S. Owned and operated by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum
1194 Newfound Gap Rd
Cherokee, NC 28719
(828) 497-1904


Scenic Drives

Cherohala Skyway
The Cherohala Skyway is a national scenic byway often compared to the Blue Ridge Parkway because of its scenic attractions and natural topography. The skyway serves as a connector between the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, thus the name Cherohala.

Blue Ridge Parkway
2551 Mountain View Rd
Vinton, VA 24179
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. Length: 469 miles (754.8 km)

Tail of the Dragon
17555 Tapoco Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
(800) 768-7129

Indian Lakes Scenic Byway
The Indian Lakes Scenic Byway takes its name from the many lakes along the route with Indian names. Begin traveling from the byway’s northern end at the intersection of U.S. 19/74 and N.C. 28 near Almond in Swain County.


Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
225 Everett Street, Suites G & H
Bryson City, NC 28713
Toll-Free Phone: 800-872-4681
Office Phone: 828-586-8811
General Description: All aboard for a historic and scenic journey. That’s an invitation to a delightful journey through the majestic mountains and colorful countryside of Western North Carolina, over a sprawling lake, past rushing rivers, through a deep mountain gorge and into dark mountain tunnels. The railroad operates year-round, with schedules varying seasonally. All trains depart Bryson City.

Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine
6961 Upper Burningtown Road
Franklin, NC 28734
Office Phone: 828-369-9742
General Description: The Mason Ruby and Sapphire Mine is Macon County’s Only True “Dig Your Own” Mine (as well as enriched buckets) where customers enjoy a Real Mining Experience for native North Carolina Corundum. All Tools are provided and we’ll Teach you how much Fun mining can Be.

Smoky Mountain Gold and Ruby Mine
971 Tsali Blvd
Cherokee, NC 28719
(828) 497-6574

Santa’s Land Theme Park and Zoo
571 Wolfetown Rd
Whittier, NC 28789
(828) 497-9191
General Description: Year-round Santa Claus-themed park with rides, a gift shop, a zoo & paddle boating in a lake.


Sequoyah National Golf Club
79 Cahons Road
Whittier, NC 28786
Office Phone: 828-497-3000

Smoky Mountain Country Club
1112 Conleys Creek Rd
Whittier, NC 28789
(828) 497-2772


Tumbling Waters Trout Pond
1612 Panther Creek Rd
Almond, NC 28702
(828) 479-3814
General Description: Trout pond is stocked with Rainbow Trout grown on the property. Bait and tackle provided, fishing license is not required.

Fly Fishing The Smokies
Cherokee/Bryson City, NC
Email Address: guides@flyfishingthesmokies.net
General Description: Wade Trips, float Trips, Fly Fishing Classes, Backcountry Camps, Hiking Trips Guided Fly Fishing for the whole family!

Steve Claxton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures
Post Office Box 995
Bryson City, NC 28713
General Description: Guided fishing and day trips in the Smokies.

Mountain Biking

Bryson City Bicycles
157 Everett St.
Bryson City, NC 28713
General Description: Bicycle rental, repair and gear.

Breweries and Wineries

Nantahala Brewing Company
103 Depot Street Bryson City, NC 28713

Mountain Layers Brewing Company
90 Everett St. Bryson City, NC 28713

Heinzelmannchen Brewery
545 Mill Street Sylva, NC

Hoppy Trout Brewing Company and Pizza
911 Main St. Andrews, NC 28901

FernCrest Winery and Tasting Room
1060 Main St. Andrews, NC 28901

Calaboose Cellars Winery and Brewery
565 Acquone Rd Andrews, NC


Spa and Massage

Lakeview at Fontana
171 Lakeview Lodge Dr
Bryson City, NC 28779
(800) 742-6492
General Description: Amenities include spa services, yoga, a seasonal outdoor pool and a nature trail.

Chambers of Commerce/ Visitor Information

Graham County Travel and Tourism
12 North Main Street
Robbinsville, NC 28771

Swain Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center
210 Main Street
Bryson City, NC 28713

Cherokee Chamber of Commerce
498 Tsali Blvd
Cherokee, NC 28719


Parks and Forests

Nantahala National Forest – Cheoah Ranger District
District Ranger, Angela Gee
1070 Massey Branch Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
(828) 479-6431
Areas of Interest Include:

  • Tsali Recreation Area – Biking, Horseback Riding, Lake Access, Hiking
  • Cable Cove Recreation Area – Fishing, Lake Access
  • Cheoah Pointe Beach Access – Swimming, Picnicking
  • Snowbird Backcountry Area – Hiking, Backpacking

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and Slickrock Wilderness Area
5410 Joyce Kilmer Rd
Robbinsville, NC 28771
(828) 479-6431
General Description: Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, created in 1975, covers 17,394 acres in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina and the Cherokee National Forest in eastern Tennessee.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
General Description: Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.
Areas of Interest Include:

  • Twenty Mile Creek and Ranger Station
  • Cades Cove
  • Oconoluftee Visitor Center
  • Clingman’s Dome
  • Deep Creek