Welcome to Graham County, North Carolina!Graham County was formed January 30, 1872, from the northeastern part of Cherokee County. It was named for William A. Graham, United States Senator from North Carolina (1840–1843) and Governor of North Carolina (1845–1849).
The terrain of our beautiful county is mountainous, with elevations ranging from 1,177 feet to 5,560 feet above sea level. Two-thirds of the county is the Nantahala National Forest.
Graham County is home to three fresh water lakes: Fontana Lake, Lake Santeetlah and Cheoah Lake, offering numerous opportunities for fishing and water sports.
The Appalachian Trail winds through Graham County, offering superb hiking opportunities. For the rafting and kayaking enthusiast, the Cheoah River is noted for its Class IV and Class V whitewater rapids. The river is used for whitewater rafting about 17 days per year, based on a water-release schedule from Santeetlah Dam. .
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a rare example of an old growth cove hardwood forest, is located in northwestern Graham County. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness area.
Our county has three of the best motorcycle/sportscar touring roads in America. The Tail of the Dragon (US 129) will challenge even the best riders/drivers with its 318 curves in 11 miles. The 50 mile-long Cherohala Skyway offers breathtaking views of Joyce Kilmer and the Cherokee National Forest from mile-high vistas. Moonshiner 28 skirts Cheoah and Fontana Lakes with challenging twists and turns.
Parts of the Qualla Boundary, also known as the Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation, are located in Graham County. These sections of the Qualla Boundary are non-contiguous from the primary part of the Qualla Boundary located in Swain, Jackson, Cherokee and Haywood counties. The Cherokees who live in Graham County form the Snowbird Cherokee community.
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