The Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Deep Creek is a popular vacation destination just outside the Bryson City limits for locals and vacationers alike. The best whitewater tubing in the Smokies, 3 beautiful and easily accessible waterfalls , natural swimming holes, hiking and biking trails lined with wildflowers,rippling trout runs of the upper creek and large picnic grounds with restrooms makes this a very affordable family friendly attraction. One that just about everybody should experience during their next visit to the North Carolina Smoky Mountains. With so much to see and do in Deep Creek many of our guest spend a large amount their vacation time in this area. Though all of our NC vacation rental cabins are a short drive from Deep Creek in the GSMNP, our vacation rentals just outside the park are very popular with guest who want to make this area base camp for their smoky mountain vacation experience.
Listed below the activity information tabs are all of our cabins that are just outside the Deep Creek entrance of the GSMNP.

Map of Deep Creek area of GSMNP

Map courtesy Swain County Chamber of Congress.
Map is intended as a generalized guide.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts some the most beautiful scenery of the southern Appalachians and tubing down Deep Creek is a great way to immerse yourself in this scenic natural environment. For years, generations of fun-loving vacationers have been coming back to Deep Creek to experience the thrill of riding an inner tube down the rapids of this Smoky Mountain stream. The chilly high mountain spring fed water of Deep Creek is a refreshing retreat from the hot summer sun for locals and vacationers alike. In order to experience the thrill of tubing down a natural Smoky Mountain creek you will need a tube. Fortunately Tube rental companies are located on West Deep Creek Road, which leads directly into the National Park. Right before entering the park local tube rental companies line the road providing the option of renting a tube for the day and loading it on or in your vehicle. You can choose from different sizes and types of tubes , with seats and without. These are not your average tubes, and purchasing your own of the same quality would be expensive. The tubes you rent are heavy duty, and designed to take the rocky conditions in the creek. For those that are driving a car they will find a way to load them on top so no matter what you are driving they have seen it all. You’ll follow the main entrance road of the National Park past the picnic area, and to the end, where the Deep Creek trail head begins. There is a parking lot just to the left that is often full during the summer and a "drop-off only" loop. Missing this area will be difficult, as you’ll see lots of vehicles plied high with brightly colored inner tubs and people in bathing suits setting off up the trail. Additional parking is available in the picnic area. From the parking lot at the Deep Creek trail head, you will have to carry your inner tube upstream about a mile on the Deep Creek trail. The path along side the creek is an old national park gravel/ dirt road that is wide and flat. You will pass by Thomas Branch Falls on the right as you make your way along the creek. Tubing on the one-mile stretch of Deep Creek in the National Park is divided into two sections that each offer a unique experience.

Lower "Family" Section:
The lower section or Family friendly section is wider, easier going and more appropriate for families with smaller kids. As you hike your tube up the trail along deep creek, all of the lower section's tubing run is visible; allowing you to see and hear where the fun and slow spots are on the creek. Put-in for this section is at the swimming hole just past the first bridge. The area around the swimming hole and under the bridge is the deepest of the lower section. The rest of the lower section is usually no more than knee deep. Tubers on this section will enjoy a relaxing ride while meandering through the sparkling waters of the national park and passing the beautiful, cascading Thomas Branch Falls where you can exit or continue on down as far as the the parking lot. As you tube down, there are a few very calm areas of the creek that make for great spots to just stop, float and enjoy the sites and sounds. There are also a few areas of fairly fast moving but small waterfalls, enough to excite the kids and encourage that lets do it again feeling. The tubes are strong, but difficult to maneuver, which adds to the fun and adventure. Adults and older kids can expect to get hung-up / run aground on more than a few large rocks. Expect to bump into other tubers too, which is a fun way to socialize and get to know people.
Upper "Whitewater" Section:
To experience the thrill of the whitewater section you will need to hike up Deep Creek Trail past the first bridge. The trail after the first bridge begins a moderate but steady incline above and along the right side of deep creek gorge. Though the view of deep creek below is mostly obscured by tree, the sounds of laughter and excitement echo up the steep sides to fill the air and you with anticipation. There are no put-ins along this part of the trail; as the left (creek ) side is very steep and unsafe to climb down. At the second bridge where Indian Creek trail branches to the right there will be a sign here saying “No Tubing beyond this point”. This is due to the creek getting too rocky and narrow making it dangerous for tubing. Just before the sign and the bridge, there will be paths down to the left that provide access to the creek and a place to get on the tube. On your first trip it might help to just follow the crowed of wet and excited people. This is a wild, bouncy ride that often separates the rider from the tube, especially when the water is swift after a rain. This section is for those adventures individuals who are looking for a little excitement. You will be in the creek for only a few minutes before you encounter Devil's Dip. This is an exciting 3' or 4' foot drop depending on how the creek is running at the time of your visit. There are a couple smaller drops before entering the family section where there's a wide, deep swimming hole that provides a relaxing break before getting back on the tube to continue down through the "Family section" or climbing out to hike back up to the top. Our guests who are looking for an exhilarating experience will spend most of their day in this part of the creek before ridding down through the family section and to the parking lot at the end of the day.
Tubing Tips:

•Try to stay in the main current, and pay attention to the strongest current areas and target them with your tube. This will keep you from getting stuck on rocks and also keep you from getting caught up in calmer areas of water which can be relaxing but are a bit difficult to get out of sometimes due to them swirling.

•The rocks are sometimes difficult to see, but when you do see them and can’t avoid going over them, lean back a little or try to pull up the edge of the tube that will hit the rock first. This will allow water to go in-between your tube and the rock and often let you flow right over it.

•Water shoes – Pick up some good water shoes with a closed toe. You won’t want to carry your shoes in the tube, and you won’t want to walk up the gravel Deep Creek Trail barefoot. Flip flops are almost always lost. This is a naturally formed mountain creek with lots of rocks big and small. No beach sand found here . Also, the bottom of Deep Creek is rocky, and slick. Water shoes make all the difference.

•Beach towels and a dry change of clothes - After spending hours getting repeatedly splashed by cold water, warm dry clothes feel pretty comforting even in the summer. There are restrooms/ changing rooms in the picnic area.

•Waterproof Cell Phone Case – Or leave cells in the car out of sight. If you want your cell phone with you (for video or pictures), make sure it is in a waterproof case and has a method to attach it to yourself. Don’t think you’ll be able to keep your cell phone dry, you won’t and if dropped, locating it in the swift moving water is unlikely.

•Lanyard Key chain Holder - Many big box department stores and camping/ kayaking equipment suppliers sell waterproof lanyard style bags. These are a great choice for those electronic Key fobs. Just make sure they are sealed tight and secured to you before launching your self down the rapids.

•Sunscreen and Hat - Though most of the creek is shaded by trees, most people still manage to get a decent amount of sun exposure.

•Pack a Picnic Lunch - You will build up an apatite trying to steer or dislodge your tube and hiking back up the trail. A short break to warm up, grab a drink and bite to eat will help to extend the day's adventure even longer. There are no food or drink stands available in the park. There is an ice-cream / concession stand just out side the park entrance; but, giving up your parking space is the biggest expense.

 

 

The Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park features 3 beautiful waterfalls - Juney Whank, Thomas Branch, and Indian Creek. All 3 are family friendly and are short easy to moderate hikes, along well established and marked trails. These trails all begin at the deep creek parking area. . The trail head is right off the loop turnaround, and follows along side Deep Creek. You'll have several choices for hikes to see these 3 waterfalls. If you do all 3, it's about a 2.5 mile hike.

Juney Whank Falls - Look for the sign to the waterfall at the upper end of the parking lot near the drop off loop. Juney Whank Falls is located only a quarter-of-a-mile from the parking lot. The trail is a little steep at first, then soon connects with the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Head to the right and up, then look for a side trail to the waterfall a few hundred yards up. The waterfall is visible from here and just a short distance down this trail. Juney Whank Falls is divided into an upper and lower section. Both can be viewed from the footbridge which crosses Juney Whank Branch at the falls. Together they drop 90 feet from top to bottom. Hikers will also have the option of continuing on this same trail, which will create a loop that visits all three falls in this area. From here, you can either backtrack to the parking lot, or you can do a loop hike and only add a short distance to the hike. To complete the loop, continue on the trail over the bridge at the waterfall and connect back on to the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Turn right, then take the right fork down to the Deep Creek Trail. Turn right ( down stream) to return to the parking lot or left ( up stream) and continue along Deep Creek trail to Thomas Branch Falls.

Thomas Branch Falls - The trail begins as a wide path as it follows along Deep Creek upstream. The 80-foot Toms Branch Falls is located only three-tenths of a mile from the trail head. The park service has provided several benches for visitors to admire these beautiful falls, which spill down into the creek from the opposite bank.

Indian Creek Falls - To reach Indian Creek Falls, continue beyond Toms Branch Falls along Deep Creek Trail. After crossing the first bridge you’ll begin a gradual half-mile uphill climb to the right of Deep Creek until you reach another bridge, and a trail junction just in front. Deep creek trail continues straight, and Indian Creek Trail goes to the right. Turn right onto Indian Creek Trail. Turning off onto Indian Creek Trail gets you out of the hustle and bustle of the tubing crowd. Shortly after turning onto Indian Creek Trail (1/10th of a mile), you’ll see a sign to the left and a small trail down to the base of Indian Creek Falls and a picturesque cove.

 

Deep-Creek-NC-17.jpg

Deep Creek offers many day hiking options for the beginner and multi-day hikes for the hard core enthusiast. The Deep Creek Trail was one of the first trails constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the newly legislated park in the early 1930s and was originally a road. This wide flat trial offers the beginner easy hiking to 2 beautiful waterfalls and connects to a loop trail to Juney Whank Falls. For a moderately challenging hike, guest can hike the 4.6 mile round trip Deep Creek Loop Trail; which connects a few trails together to form a loop that takes you past Thomas Branch falls and Indian Creek Falls, over Sunkota Ridge, through about 1.5 miles of peaceful back country forest to end back at the parking area.
For the overnight hiking and fishing enthusiast, Deep Creek Trail continues far into the back country along Deep Creek. Over night primitive campsites are located along the trail and available with backcountry permits and reservations from the National Park Service.

Hiking tips from the National Parks Service

Be sure to allow plenty of time to complete your hike before dark. As a rule of thumb, hikers in the Smokies travel about 1.5 miles per hour. Many people travel slower. Sunset times vary from just after 5:00 p.m. in December to almost 9:00 p.m. in June.
Safety is always a concern when hiking with children. While you won't need any specialized equipment to enjoy these hikes, it is always smart to take enough water and snacks for everyone. Wear sturdy footwear to make the hike more enjoyable and dress in warm layers on colder days. Please remember to be respectful and do your part to preserve these areas because they are wonderful pieces of Smoky Mountain history. Please do not move any objects you find, and leave all plants undisturbed.


Juney Whank Falls Loop:
Round trip Distance:   0.8 miles
Difficulty:    Easy - Moderate
Look for the sign to the waterfall at the upper end of the parking lot near the drop off loop. Juney Whank Falls is located only a quarter-of-a-mile from the parking lot. The trail is a little steep at first, then soon connects with the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Head to the right and up, then look for a side trail to the waterfall a few hundred yards up. The waterfall is visible from here and just a short distance down this trail. Juney Whank Falls is divided into an upper and lower section. Both can be viewed from the footbridge which crosses Juney Whank Branch at the falls. Together they drop 90 feet from top to bottom. Hikers will also have the option of continuing on this same trail will create a loop. From the foot bridge, you can either backtrack to the parking lot, or you can do the loop hike and only add a short distance to the hike. To complete the loop, continue on the trail over the bridge at the waterfall and connect back on to the Deep Creek Horse Trail. Turn right, then take the right fork down to the Deep Creek Trail. Turn right ( down stream) to return to the parking lot or left ( up stream) and continue along Deep Creek trail to Thomas Branch Falls.
Thomas Branch Falls:
Round trip Distance:  0.6 miles
Difficulty:    Easy
Look for the sign to the waterfall at the upper end of the parking lot near the drop off loop. Deep Creek Trail is one of the first roads constructed in the National Park in the 1930s. It is now used as a wide hiking trail. The trail traces Deep Creek upstream. The 80-foot Toms Branch Falls is located only three-tenths of a mile from the trail head. To complete the round trip, just trek back to the parking area or continue along deep creek trail to Indian Creek Falls.
Indian Creek Falls:
Round trip Distance:   1.9 miles
Difficulty:    Easy - Moderate
To reach Indian Creek Falls, continue beyond Toms Branch Falls along Deep Creek Trail. After crossing the first bridge you’ll begin a gradual half-mile uphill climb to the right of Deep Creek until you reach another bridge, and a trail junction just in front. Deep creek trail continues straight, and Indian Creek Trail goes to the right. Turn right onto Indian Creek Trail. Turning off onto Indian Creek Trail gets you out of the hustle and bustle of the tubing crowd. Shortly after turning onto Indian Creek Trail (1/10th of a mile), you’ll see a sign to the left and a small trail down to the base of Indian Creek Falls and a picturesque cove. You can then trek back down the same trail back to the parking lot or If you're looking for additional hiking opportunities in this area, you will can continue along Indian Creek Trail to access the Deep Creek Loop trail, which will add another 2.4 miles to your total round trip back to the parking lot.
Deep Creek Loop :
Round trip Distance:   4.6 miles
Difficulty:    Moderate
Hiking this loop will take you past Thomas Branch falls and Indian Creek Falls, over Sunkota Ridge, through about 1.5 miles of peaceful back country forest to end back at the parking area. The Deep Creek Loop hike begins from the Deep Creek Trail head parking lot, off the loop turnaround. Follow the wide flat Deep Creek Trail as it traces along the left bank of Deep Creek. At about 3/10ths mile you will come to Thomas Branch Falls on the right bank of Deep Creek. The national Park Service has provide benches to sit and enjoy the falls or watch the tubers float past. When you have take a photo or two, continue up Deep Creek Trail to the first bridge where the families are launching their tubes in the creek. After crossing the first bridge you’ll begin a gradual uphill climb to the right of Deep Creek until reach the next bridge and Indian Creek Trail junction at 0.8 miles. Deep creek continues straight into the back country, and Indian Creek Trail goes to the right. To take the loop trail, and to see Indian Creek Falls, go right and follow Indian Creek Trail. Shortly after turning onto Indian Creek Trail (1/10th of a mile), you’ll see a sign to the left and a small trail heading down to the base of Indian Creek Falls. Returning back on the trial, Indian Creek Trail will continue into a really pretty forest area, with a nice, flat and wide trail. You’ll cross a bridge over Indian Creek just after the falls and continue to head through the forest. At roughly 1.4 miles you will reach the Stone Pile Gap Trail junction that branches off to the right. Continue straight on Indian Creek Trail. At 1.7 miles you'll arrive at the Deep Creek Loop Trail junction. Turn left here to continue on the loop hike. For the next half-mile you'll climb roughly 350 feet before reaching the Sunkota Ridge Trail junction. After reaching the Sunkota Ridge junction, proceed straight ahead to continue on the loop hike. From here it's all downhill until reaching Deep Creek once again. Upon reaching the Deep Creek Trail junction, roughly 2.9 miles from the trail head, You’ll turn left here and cross the footbridge, and then follow the trail back along side Deep Creek. The trail along here is very flat and wide and makes for a nice relaxing walk with the refreshing sounds of Deep Creek. You will again pass by Thomas Branch Falls. Then continue on towards the parking lot. On your way back to the parking lot, at roughly 3.7 miles, you will reach a spur trail that leads to Juney Whank Falls. If you have anything left in your tank, the spur travels roughly 0.5 miles to the falls, and then another quarter-mile back to the parking area.

Deep Creek is one of the better brown trout streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Brown and Rainbow trout are both present in the lower portions of Deep Creek and native brook trout in the uppermost portions. Fishing is permitted year-round in the park, but a Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license is required. Either state license is valid throughout the park. Deep Creek is a relatively large stream that flows from deep with in the national park and immediately through Bryson City where it enters the Tuskegee River. As with most of the larger streams in the park, Deep Creek is mostly fished in its lower section that is easy to access. In warm weather, this section is usually crowded, with people floating by in inner tubes. Surprisingly, the fish have become so accustomed to the tube traffic that you can catch a trout or two between runs of tubing enthusiasts. On prime weekends the tub traffic can be nearly jammed and tying to drop a fly in is nearly impossible and not worth the trouble. Head upstream to Deep Creek’s junction with Indian Creek. Beyond that point, no tubing is permitted, and this is where the real fishing begins. From the campground you can follow the Deep Creek Road Trail for just over two miles. From there upstream, you can only access the stream by hiking the Deep Creek Trail. Spring is an ideal time to fish the creek. It’s still too cold for tubing, and mayfly, caddis and stonefly hatches are abundant. Spring is also an ideal time to view the spectacular displays of wildflowers that color the trail sides. Indian Creek is a good side trip, if you have plenty of fishing time. A trail runs alongside the creek, providing easy access to the stream, which is populated mostly by rainbow trout, with a few browns thrown in for good measure. Fishing can be tight in places, but it has plenty of open space for fly casting.

For up to date licensing and additional fishing info visit
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Our smoky mountain vacation rental cabins closest to the Deep Creek area are listed below according to number of bedrooms. just click the icon with the number of bedrooms you need.
To view detailed information about any of the rental cabins listed below; click on the photo or view cabin button


  • Romantic rental cabins with hot tubs
  • 2 bedroom getaways with hot tubs
  • 3 bedroom vacations with hot tubs
  • 4 bedroom mountain lodges with hot tubs
  • Group pet friendly rental cabins
Deep Creek Cottage
Bryson City, NC
Starting at
$120
Per Night
1
Bedrooms
1
Bath
4
Guests
Neighbors Next Door
Seclusion
Rating
Deck View Faces other Cabins
View
from Deck
Motorcycle Accessible
Road
Accessibility
Pet Friendly Cabin
Pet
Policy
Bed Types:
Queen Size BedTwin Size Bed
Features:
Gas Log StoveGas GrillStone Fire pit in yard

 

Appalachian Escape Cabin
Bryson City, NC
Starting at
$160
Per Night
2
Bedrooms
2
Bath
4
Guests
Semi Secluded / Private
Seclusion
Rating
Forested View
View
from Deck
Cars & most all Vehicles can access
Road
Accessibility
Pet Friendly Cabin
Pet
Policy
Bed Types:
King Size BedQueen Size Bed
Features:
Outdoor Hot TubWireless internetGas Log StoveGas GrillStone Fire pit in yard
Kathy's Deep Creek Hideaway
Bryson City, NC
Starting at
$140
Per Night
2
Bedrooms
2
Bath
6
Guests
Semi Secluded / Private
Seclusion
Rating
Forested View
View
from Deck
Cars & most all Vehicles can access
Road
Accessibility
Pet Friendly Cabin
Pet
Policy
Bed Types:
Queen Size BedQueen Size BedSleeper Sofa
Features:
Outdoor Hot TubGas Log StoveGas GrillWireless internet

 

AJourney's End couples escape log cabin
NO Cabin
No 3 Bedroom Cabins Featured
Per Night
$0 - $0
0 Bedrooms 0 Bath 0 Guests
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Seclusion
Rating
Neighbors walkin' Distance
View
from Deck
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Road
Accessibility
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Pet
Policy
Bed Types:
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Features:
Neighbors walkin' Distance

 

AJourney's End couples escape log cabin
NO Cabin
No 4+ Bedroom Cabins Featured
Per Night
$0 - $0
0 Bedrooms 0 Bath 0 Guests
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Seclusion
Rating
Neighbors walkin' Distance
View
from Deck
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Road
Accessibility
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Pet
Policy
Bed Types:
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Features:
Neighbors walkin' Distance
No Group Cabins
NO Cabin
No Cabin Groups Featured
Per Night
$0 - $0
0 Bedrooms 0 Bath 0 Guests
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Seclusion
Rating
Neighbors walkin' Distance
View
from Deck
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Road
Accessibility
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Pet
Policy
Bed Types:
Neighbors walkin' Distance
Features:
Neighbors walkin' Distance