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Maggie Valley NC Travel Guide

Maggie Valley NC is a small and friendly mountain town in Western North Carolina.   Maggie Valley has been a popular mountain vacation destination for families for years, and that tradition continues today.  

Updated: 2/29/2023

When you visit Maggie Valley, you'll find great locally owned places to stay and eat, tons of small and unique shops, and lots to see and do, including outdoor activities in the surrounding Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.

Maggie Valley NC

Sunset at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Maggie Valley NC is a small mountain town, located in Western NC between Asheville NC and Cherokee.   The town has roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains dating back to the early 1800s.   Maggie Valley grew in popularity with tourists in the early to mid 1900s, due to its close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In the early 1960s a mountain top Western Themed amusement park opened in Maggie Valley, called Ghost Town in the Sky.  This significantly increased tourism and visitation to Maggie Valley, causing a huge growth period.   The park later closed in the 90s, and remains closed to this day.  Although there are efforts ongoing to reopen it.

Today, Maggie Valley has moved on from its reliance on Ghost Town in the Sky as an anchor attraction for Maggie Valley,  Through the opening of unique shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the World Famous Wheels of Time Museum, the town is re-establishing itself.

Maggie Valley NC makes for a wonderful and quiet getaway for those looking to experience the mountains themselves, and provides close accommodations for those interested in experiencing all of the amazing outdoor activities these mountains have to offer.

Where is Maggie Valley NC?

Not only is Maggie Valley located in a beautiful location, it has the advantage of being at the center of many fun things to see and do in the Western NC Mountains.

Maggie Valley is only 40 minutes west of Asheville, NC, 30 minutes from Cherokee NC, and only minutes away from the most popular National Park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and another very popular National Park, The famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

"A Day in Maggie Valley Video"

This is the first in a series of "A Day in Maggie Valley NC" videos we will be doing on our YouTube channel.   In our videos we'll highlight places to stay, places to eat, and things to in Maggie Valley NC.

History of Maggie Valley NC

Welcome to Maggie Valley NC

Maggie Valley NC was formally established on May 10, 1904, however, people had been living in the area for some time.

The land was originally home to the Cherokee Indians, and a number of trails ran through the area where there are now roads, including US276 and Highway 19 (Soco Rd.)  Settlers first moved into the area, now known as Maggie Valley NC in 1805.

Maggie Mae Setzer

A young lady named Maggie Mae Setzer was born on December 21, 1890.  In 1900, her father, Jack Setzer, wanted to establish a post office for the community.   Jack had been riding 5-miles to the nearest post office to retrieve mail each week.  He grew tired of the travel and wanted a local post office.

Jack wrote a letter to the US Postal Service requesting permission to establish his home as the new post office that would serve the area.  The Postal Service replied telling him to provide postal service from his home for 6 months and to keep records.  The records would determine if a new post office was justified or not.    

A corner of a room in his home was set up as a post office.  He built a custom wood box to keep track of the incoming letters.  During this time, Jack kept careful records of everything.

After 6-months had passed, he submitted his records to the US Postal Service. They accepted his request and asked that he submit names for the postal area.  The first three names Jack submitted were rejected, as they were already in use.  He then submitted the names of his daughters: Cora, Mettie, Maggie Mae, and an additional name, Jonathan Creek.  Jack didn’t mention to his daughters that he had done this

Jack received an official letter on May 10, 1904, from the US Postmaster that the official name of his new Post Office would be Maggie, NC.    Jack told Maggie, and she was so embarrassed by the news, that she burst into tears and ran up the mountain to the old Log Cabin where she was born.

Maggie NC became the Maggie Valley, NC we know and love today.   Jack’s home, and the original post office, is a white house on Moody Farm Rd, just up from Maggie Mountaineer Crafts.  The post office was later moved to the Maggie Valley General Store.

Maggie married Ira Pylant of Nashville, TN at the age of 17 and they moved to Texas.  Maggie returned to her home, and the town named after her several times before she died in 1979 at the age of 88 years old.

Miss Maggie surrounded by Fall Colors

Today, you can often find “Miss Maggie” walking along Soco Rd and attending various events, greeting and waving to everyone.   Miss Maggie is not only a town symbol and icon but a recognition of the original Maggie Mae Setzer.

Things to do in Maggie Valley

Maggie Valley NC is full of fun things to do, both in the town itself, and in the surrounding mountains.  You'll find in-town attractions and hundreds of outdoor activities within a short drive, including hiking, waterfalls, historic sites, and scenic drives.

One of the "Stars of the Show", per-say, are the Elk that inhabit the area.  They can often be seen in the town of Maggie Valley itself, along with Cataloochee Valley, and near the Oconoluftee Visitor Center in nearby Cherokee NC.

Just some of many wonderful things to do in Maggie Valley NC include: 

Waterrock Knob Blue Ridge Parkway

Waterrock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

Where to Stay in Maggie Valley NC

Maggie Valley has a number of locally owned and run Hotels, Motels, Campgrounds and Cabins.  All of these options provide clean, safe and relaxing options for your getaway.  The best part?  They are all locally owned and operated, even the the hotels with "chain names" are owned by local franchise owners.  When visiting, you'll often get to work meet with, and work with the owners.

Top Rated Maggie Valley Hotels/Motels

A popular choice for many visitors to Maggie Valley, hotels and motels provide clean accommodations with many amenities, at reasonable prices.  You'll find many different options in the valley, and you're sure to find at least a few that meet your needs, and make the kids happy!

Best Restaurants in Maggie Valley NC

One of our favorite things about Maggie Valley are all the wonderful places to eat!   Maggie Valley's locally owned and operated restaurants provide lots of great options for you. 

Here are just a few of our favorite places: 

Best Bars in Maggie Valley NC

While Maggie Valley isn't a big "bar town" per say, there are a number of nice places where you can relax after a long day out hiking or exploring to enjoy an adult beverage.  Here are our top picks for Best Bars in Maggie Valley NC: 

Elk in Maggie Valley NC

Elk were native to the Great Smoky Mountains, many years ago.  They went extinct in the mid 1800s due to hunting.   An effort in 2003, re-introduced Elk into Cataloochee Valley and have thrived here since then, multiplying and spreading out.  You can often see Elk in Maggie Valley itself, walking around on side roads, and even up the main road!

The Elk have managed to become one of the largest wildlife attractions in the area, and for Maggie Valley itself.  The Elk are amazing to see year-round, but in particular during the during Rut season in the Fall, where dominant males compete for females.  

The Elk are wild, so do not ever approach or feed them.

Ghost Town in the Sky

When many think of Maggie Valley, they think of fond memories at the mountain-top and western themed amusement park, Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley.   The park opened in the early 1960s, and was very popular with US tourists.  The opening of the park, really kick started Maggie Valley as a popular tourism town, and spurred significant growth and prosperity.

The popularity of Ghost Town in the Sky begin to decline in the 1980s, and continued until the park finally closed in the early 2000s.  There have been a number of attempts to re-open the park, but they have failed so far for many different reasons.  A recent acquisition of the property, and plans to re-open it yet again have been announced.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.

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